Artsakh Officials Warn of Impending Genocide, Urge International Condemnation
For the second time this month, a group of Azerbaijanis dressed in civilian clothes and claiming to be environmental inspectors closed the Goris-Stepanakert highway—the only road connecting Armenia to Artsakh that passes through the Lachin Corridor.
The standoff at the Lachin Corridor began at around 10:30 a.m. local time. As of this reporting the road has been closed for more than 17 hours, according to Artsakh’s Interior Ministry.
The blockade has caused traffic jams and uncertainty for many traveling on the route to and from Artsakh, with the ministry reporting that hundreds have been stranded in Goris, and those traveling from Artsakh to Armenia are waiting on the road.
The traffic on roads through Lisagor, Mets Shen, Hin Shen and Yegtsahogh villages of the Shushi region toward the capital Stepanakert is at a standstill.
“Hundreds of citizens, including children, are stranded on the road. Some of them returned to Goris, while those who have been waiting for many hours in the Stepanakert-Shushi zone have been transported to Stepanakert accompanied by police officers. The transportation of medical items, medication and severely-ill patients to Artsakh has become impossible. Negotiations are currently underway. Additional information will be provided on developments of the situation,” the Artsakh Police said in a statement.
Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan called for all Artsakh citizens to come together and not panic.
“Azerbaijan’s aggressive actions are aimed at terrorizing our population and jeopardizing our vital rights and interests. This is completely unacceptable to us,” said Harutyunyan. “This is an unprecedented challenge for our state and people, and I am calling on the entire society to unite and remain calm because one of the goals of the Azerbaijani government is to incite domestic division and panic in Artsakh.”
He said that the Artsakh government is utilizing all means at its disposal to protect the citizens of Artsakh.
“We are certain that the Russian peacekeeping contingent, as the guarantor of security of our people and the road, will use all means to prevent such provocations and violations of agreements aimed against the vital rights and interests of our people,” added Harutyunyan.
Warning that Azerbaijan is attempting to ethnically cleanse Artsakh of Armenians, Harutyunyan called on the international community to call out Baku’s “gross violation of international legal norms.”
“Artsakh has been and will remain Armenian because of our united and resolute efforts, despite all challenges,” added Harutyunyan.
“This is another manifestation of Baku’s genocidal policy, a destructive and criminal act aimed at terrorizing the people of Artsakh, creating an atmosphere of instability in the region and hindering the activities of the Russian peacekeeping mission,” said a statement by the Artsakh Foreign Ministry on Monday.
“As usual, Azerbaijan is displaying absolutely disrespect toward its obligations assumed by the trilateral statement of November 9, 2020, in particular, it is not guaranteing the secure movement of citizens, vehicles and cargo in both directions through the Lachin Corridor,” the foreign ministry added.
The Artsakh Foreign Ministry strongly condemned Baku’s latest provocation and called on the international community “to take practical steps to put an end to Azerbaijan’s ambitions towards the sovereign territories of Artsakh and to provide appropriate conditions for the realization of the fundamental rights of Artsakh Armenians.”
Meanwhile, Armenia’s Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan raised the blockade of the Lachin corridor when meeting on Monday with the Special Adviser to the United National Secretary General on Genocide prevention, Alice Wairimu Nderitu.
Nderitu, who is in Yerevan to attend the 4th Global Forum Against the Crime of Genocide, was briefed about the ongoing standoff in the Lachin Corridor.
According to Armenia’s foreign ministry, during the meeting with U.N. official Mirzoyan emphasized that the blockade of the Lachin Corridor was a clear sign of Azerbaijan’s policy of ethnic cleansing, adding that Armenians of Artsakh continue to face an existential threat.
He stressed that it is inadmissible to incite identity-based hatred carried out at the highest political level in Azerbaijan, which greatly undermines efforts toward establishing security and peace in the region.