Azerbaijan’s Aggression: ‘Another Armenian Genocide’

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Catherine Chan, Staff Writer

Armenians across the world are currently protesting against Azerbaijan aggression. Beginning Sept. 27, Azerbaijan fought to gain power over the Nagorno-Karabakh territory, also known as the Republic of Artsakh, a territory that ethnic Armenian forces control. As the attacks became more and more serious, many Armenians call it the next “Armenian genocide.”

On Sept. 29, Azerbaijan began bombing the Republic of Armenia, firing on innocent civilians living there. On this same day, a Turkish F-16 jet taking off from Azerbaijan shot down an Armenian SU-25 fighter jet. The Republic of Azerbaijan handed over the air command of offensive operations to the Turkish Air Force the following day. In the meantime, Turkey has also sent Syrian mercenaries to fight in Armenia. Although there have been violations of the ceasefire in the past, this is more serious than the initial war for independence in 1994. Although the Prime Minister of Armenia and Armenians worldwide are calling for peace, there have been no moves by Turkey and Azerbaijan to cease their violent attacks. 

The Prime Minister of Armenia said, “Artsakh is under existential threat,” so they have no choice but to fight. All men ranging from 18 to 55 are being mobilized for military service, with many already deployed to the front lines. The Armenian diaspora is also mobilizing to get much-needed supplies to Armenia as this conflict is more urgent than it has ever been, and Armenians are fighting for their lives.

This uncovers the atrocities of 1915 events that Armenian communities will never forget. Historians estimated that the Ottoman Turks murdered approximately 1.5 million Armenians in what we call a genocide. However, Turkey persistently denies such events. With generations of Armenians being displaced, their strength has nurtured a resilient national identity-in-exile. 

Since the founding of Azerbaijan in 1918, the nation has had an ethnic conflict with Armenia, an issue arising from creating ethnic-states in the Caucasus region. Initially, Azeris lived in Armenia and Armenians lived in Azerbaijan. The enforcement of ethnic borders in this region came with huge ethnic violence campaigns. In addition, the anti-Armenian sentiment is bolstered by Azerbaijan’s close relationship with Turkey. 

Alarmingly, Turkey’s president Erdogan has vowed to finish the Armenian Genocide, calling it a “mission, which our grandfathers have carried out for centuries.” This is the same president who has repeatedly denied the Armenian Genocide, carried out in 1915.

In addition, in a 2005 meeting with the municipal delegation from Bavaria, Germany, the Mayor of Baku said, “Our goal is the complete elimination of Armenians. You, Nazis, already eliminated the Jews in the 1930s and 40s, right? You should be able to understand us.” Ultimately, the conflict remains an issue of ethnic cleansing and genocide. 

In order to strengthen society’s ties with Turkey, Stalin incorporated the indigenous Armenian province of Artsakh into the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan in 1923. Although relative peace was maintained by Soviet rule in the region, as the USSR began to collapse, Armenians protested peacefully for their right to self-determination, and in 1988 the Regional Soviet of People’s Deputies of Nagorno Karabakh voted to join the Republic of Armenia. This was met with horrific violence against Armenians in the Azeri cities of Sumgait and Baku. Generations today are told stories from Armenians that were forced to leave their homes and incidents such as women being thrown out of balconies or set on fire. In the face of this violence and impending threat on Artsakh, Armenians are taking matters to their own hands in determination not to let another tragedy happen. 

The Armenian diaspora is heavily concentrated in the U.S., including several influential groups in Lebanon, France, Russia, and Australia. At least 500,000 Armenians reside in the heart of Southern California. Los Angeles County is home to twice these numbers alone. As a tight-knit community, the American-Armenians protested for the Republic of Artsakh’s freedom and for the lives of their brothers and sisters. 

The Artsakh War was a war between Artsakh’s army, supported by the Army of Armenia, and Azerbaijan. This war ended in the ceasefire of 1994, and Artsakh gained independence as a de facto republic. After the ceasefire, Armenia’s attacks continued as Azerbaijan began to fire regularly on civilians in the border villages of Tavush province in Armenia. While these firing campaigns were never meant to break out into another all-out war, they were intended to keep the people of Tavush in a constant state of fear and to cut off their economic opportunities along with their livelihoods.

They refuse to remain silent as the international community continues to stand by and watch the atrocities happen, as it did in 1915. While Armenia is a small country of nearly 3 million people, they are faced with the combined 94 million population of Turkey and Azerbaijan. The aggression of the Azerbaijan and Turkish forces stands as a significant humanitarian crisis. In the face of the silence and inaction of governments around the world, the voices of Armenians need to be heard as much awareness is long overdue. It is crucial to hold our media accountable for proper reporting on behalf of the fighting. They are not merely “clashes” when it has always been Azerbaijan attacking and Armenia defending.

Azerbaijan ultimately captured the strategic territory of Shusha. This makes the Nagorno-Karabakh capital, Stepanakert, very vulnerable to attacks, and possible capture. Because of this, the Armenian Prime Minister announced on Nov. 10 that he had signed a peace deal with Azerbaijan and Russia to end the fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh territory. What this peace treaty means is that both sides will stop their advances and give Azerbaijan back much of the territory lost in this conflict. Armenia is also being prompted to open a route that allows access to Azerbaijan in its Nakhchivan cave. 

According to BBC, the Armenian Prime Minister expressed the deal was “incredibly painful both for me and both for our people.”

Thousands of Armenians gathered outside Parliament and on the streets of Armenia’s capital, Yerevan to protest against their country’s agreement to end fighting with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Armenians around the world are feeling a heavy loss as they were not able to defend the Nagorno-Karabakh territory and now must withdraw from their homes. 

 

Photo courtesy of LOSANGELES.CBSLOCAL.COM