Azerbaijan Pursues The ‘Elimination of the Entire Christian Population and It’s Churches’

(From 9/6/23)The U.S. congressional Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, chaired by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), held a hearing Wednesday to discuss the plight of Armenian Christians trapped by an Azerbaijani blockade in the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region. The commission heard testimony from experts who said Azerbaijan’s actions clearly constituted genocide, with complicity from Turkey and the Islamist forces it has dispatched into the region.

Nagorno-Karabakh is a mountainous territory about the size of Delaware in Azerbaijan that has been inhabited by Armenians for centuries. The Azerbaijanis are mostly Muslims, while the Armenians are Christian.

The Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh fought an unsuccessful war of secession in 1994 following the collapse of the Soviet Union, then remained as a semi-autonomous colony supported by the Armenian state. 

Sporadic clashes over the years erupted into a full-blown war in 2020, which concluded with a cease-fire brokered by Russia in November of that year. Azerbaijan was generally seen as victor in the conflict, as Armenia was required to hand over control over some border territories.

Fighting broke out again in late 2022 despite the presence of Russian peacekeepers. Both the Armenians and Azeris accused each other of violating cease-fire terms with unprovoked ground attacks and artillery barrages. 

In December 2022, Azerbaijan began blockading a road known as the Lachin Corridor, the only land route between the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh and the nation of Armenia. The blockade was initially launched by a group of self-professed “environmental activists” to protest illegal mining operations, but testimony at the Human Rights Commission on Wednesday made it clear they were actually agents of Azerbaijan.

Testifying before the commission on Wednesday was Luis Moreno Ocampo, a former prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) who published a report in August about the Lachin Corridor blockade. Ocampo’s report said the blockade was Azerbaijan’s attempt to use “starvation as a means of genocide.”

“There are no crematories and there are no machete attacks. Starvation is the invisible genocide weapon. Without immediate dramatic change, this group of Armenians will be destroyed in a few weeks,” Ocampo warned in August.

Ocampo explained to the Human Rights Commission that there are essentially two types of genocide: murderous violence with weapons, and deliberate efforts to create conditions that will wipe out an entire population. He said the Lachin blockade was clearly an example of the latter, as it deprives the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians of food, gas, electricity, and medicine. The Azeris have blocked the Red Cross from reaching the Armenians, and even turned back Russian peacekeepers.

“This is an ongoing genocide. It is happening now,” he said. “There is no doubt that genocidal intentions are there.”

Ocampo rendered harsh judgment against Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliev, as did the commission’s other expert witness, Georgetown University adjunct professor David L. Philips. Both said Aliev was well aware of the humanitarian crisis created by the Lachin blockade.

“The responsible person is clearly President Aliev. No doubt, no doubt,” Ocampo said.

Philips said Aliev’s goal was “elimination of the entire Christian population and its churches.” 

“There is no doubt that genocidal intentions are there,” Ocampo said. 

Philips extensively quoted remarks from Aliev and his top officials that indicated their resolve to wipe out the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh once and for all.

Please! Pray for all the sides in this conflict and that God will bring peace to this situation very quickly!  Pray for for the protection of all Christians in Azerbaijan, and pray for a softening of President Aliev’s heart.

You can read the full story here: