Cry for Artsakh
(This map does not reflect up to this date territories held)
I know that everyone here has heard an unceasing stream of news about the Russian war on Ukraine for a year and a half now.
I assume that most of you have heard of and have a cursory understanding of the Armenian Genocide. But have you heard of the Republic of Artsakh?
Probably not. Most Americans, myself included, are blissfully ignorant of the contemporary struggles of the SWANA region (South West Asia and North Africa).
This week, the Republic of Azerbaijan launched a full scale invasion of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh), causing its devastated population of ethnic Armenians to surrender after 10 months enduring an illegal blockade that cut off the only route to humanitarian aid to the besieged population.
The 120,000 people of Artsakh have been literally starving and dying from lack of medical care for months. This is ethnic cleansing and genocide of Armenians in the 21st century, one hundred + years after the Armenian genocide of 1915, unfolding in full view of the world.
This tragedy, hastened and aided by Europe and Israel’s lust for Azerbaijan’s oil wealth and Turkey’s glorified global campaign of Pan-Turkism, is history repeating itself. This week Azerbaijan launched a full scale invasion of Artsakh, causing its crippled and starving population to surrender after months and years of its struggle for self-determination.
As of today, the *best case* scenario is the people will be forced out of Artsakh and into Armenia as refugees. The worst case scenario is…unthinkable. We’re already seeing war crimes and rabid Armenophobia unfolding over social media as the Azeri armed forces destroy and desecrate what is left of capital city Stepanakert and the last remaining indigenous people of Artsakh.
If you know anyone whose name ends in “ian” or “yan” then you know someone who has been screaming–no, BEGGING–our own government and those around the world to acknowledge and address this crisis.
For myself, I thought I was trying to intellectually understand the full scope of the events unfolding, reading everything I could get my eyes on about the history of the conflict before making some kind of public statement. What could I possibly say that others haven’t already been crying and screaming into deaf ears for months and years? The truth is that I was just paralyzed, in my psyche and my soul.
As a woman who is earnestly searching for my Armenian roots and embracing the culture that I was long cut off from, I’m ashamed for having been silent all this time. My one hope is that if you’re reading this, my non-Armenian friends, you’ll now see what is happening and will take action in some way, big or small. At the end of this post I will list a number of humanitarian aid organizations that are toiling at the heart of this tragedy. PLEASE write to your Congresspersons demanding sanctions on Azerbaijan and consider donating to this cause.
This image, "Adelante Artsakh" is a print by Ali Cat of Entangled Roots Press. Purchase a print here to benefit the cause or donate directly to All For Armenia.
The Briefest Background
Artsakh is a disputed region between Armenia and Azerbaijan, historically populated by a large majority of Armenians, currently about 97%. Armenian settlements, architecture, and monuments date to centuries before the common era, including ancient churches, graveyards, and archaeological treasures. For reference, Turko-tatars (ancestors of the Azeris) began arriving in the Caucasus around the 11th century CE.
Political rule of Artsakh has been contested for well over 100 years, and despite consistent attempts at self-determination, is formally recognized internationally as a territory of Azerbaijan, beginning with its sudden appointment to Azerbaijan by Stalin in 1921.
After 4 years of escalating conflict over the territory beginning in 1987, Artsakh made its declaration of independence from the Soviet Union in December of 1991, intending to reunite with Armenia. This spurred Azerbaijan to launch a full scale war, which ended in an unresolved ceasefire in 1994. Armenia gained a significant portion of territory in this conflict, but Artsakh remained isolated. Artsakh is connected to Armenia by a 6km mountainous road called the Lachin corridor. This is Artsakh’s only link with the outside world; it receives 90% of its food, supplies and medicine via this lifeline.
In September of 2020, Azerbaijan launched a full scale war against Artsakh with the military and financial support of Turkey, lasting 44 days. A ceasefire was declared in December, yet intermittent fighting and drone strikes persisted along the borders of Artsakh despite the Russian peacekeeping force that was agreed upon for a period of 5 years.
In December of last year, 2022, Azerbaijan installed an illegal blockade along the Lachin Corridor under the false pretense of “eco-activism,” blocking all traffic to and from Artsakh, installing military checkpoints, blocking alternative routes, and seizing all forms of humanitarian aid. The government of Azerbaijan crippled the crucial infrastructure of Artsakh, cutting off its power and water supplies, even in the dead of winter.
The west ignored the crisis for more than 10 months, and Artsakh has finally fallen. Make no mistake, Armenia itself is the next target.
:: I will update the following resources as I find them. ::
Understand the conflict
Republic of Artsakh: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_Artsakh
Schiff calls for Action (Aug 2023): https://schiff.house.gov/news/press-releases/statement-rep-schiff-calls-for-aid-and-action-in-artsakh-amid-ongoing-humanitarian-crisis
AID + ACTION
All for Armenia: https://allforarmenia.org/
Action Armenia: https://www.actionarmenia.com/
The Armenian Report: https://www.instagram.com/thearmenianreport/
Akoonk Media: https://www.instagram.com/akoonkmedia/
Zartonk Media on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/zartonkmedia/