Because the world watches in horror whereas atrocities unfold in Ukraine, one other former Soviet Republic is staring down a brutal invasion. On Tuesday, round midnight in Armenia, Azerbaijan launched assaults on the Armenian cities of Goris, Jermuk and Vardenis. Although the precise variety of casualties is unclear, the prime minister of Armenia reported the next morning that 105 individuals have died within the clashes.
For a lot of within the U.S., Armenia is solely off their radar, significantly because the Russian invasion has overshadowed different points within the area. Even right here within the Boston space, a spot we each have known as house for years, Armenian points not often get the eye they deserve, regardless of Watertown having the third largest Armenian inhabitants within the nation.
Thankfully, the latest Azerbaijani assault has prompted outrage and response from U.S. officers. On a telephone name with Azerbaijani president, Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged “a right away finish to army actions alongside the Armenia-Azerbaijan border.” U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Senate International Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, D-N.J., are calling for instant cessation of financial help to Azerbaijan.
Whereas the latest assaults got here as a shock to some within the worldwide neighborhood, for individuals who reside in Armenia, significantly these close to the border, the assaults appear to have been inevitable. Having endured invasion, ethnic cleaning and torture within the latest previous, Armenians have additionally suffered indifference from the worldwide neighborhood. A displaced instructor from Nagorno-Karabakh informed us earlier this yr, “I’m coming to understand we’re nobody. We don’t matter. We don’t exist.”
On the coronary heart of the latest strikes is the long-standing dispute over the area of Nagorno-Karabakh. Internationally acknowledged as a part of Azerbaijan however principally inhabited and autonomously ruled for many years by ethnic Armenians, Nagorno-Karabakh’s territory, politically drawn by the Soviets, has sparked preventing over the land for a century. In September 2020, the Nagorno-Karabakh battle escalated when Azerbaijan launched a army offensive within the disputed space, prompting a 44-day struggle. A ceasefire was signed in November that yr, however because the latest assaults illustrate, invasion and battle over the territory haven’t ended. In actual fact, they’ve spilled into Armenia correct.
Over the previous yr, we’ve got labored as a part of a group of lecturers, attorneys, researchers and college students on the College Community for Human Rights, the Yale Lowenstein Clinic and the Harvard Regulation Faculty Advocates for Human Rights to research human rights violations which have taken place following the 44-day battle. We’ve documented egregious abuses, together with the abstract execution and disappearance of civilians, torture of prisoners and displacement of Armenians from the territory. The central premise of our soon-to-be printed report is that for ethnic Armenians within the space, the struggle rages on.
All conflicts are messy, however the fog of struggle can not obscure the ugly intentions of Azerbaijan on this dispute. Excessive-level Azerbaijani officers have referred to Armenians as a “most cancers tumor” and a “illness” that should be “handled,” dehumanizing language akin to that used within the Rwandan genocide and Holocaust. Different officers have claimed that Armenians “haven’t any proper to reside on this area” and said, “Our aim is the entire elimination of Armenians.”
To this point, the worldwide neighborhood has remained disengaged, abandoning ethnic Armenians to the destiny of the proverbial frog in boiling water, as Azerbaijan has continued to commit grave human rights abuses and encroached additional and additional into territories occupied by ethnic Armenians. If there is no such thing as a significant worldwide response, the individuals of Armenia face the actual hazard of annihilation.
Because the U.N. Basic Meeting meets this week, it ought to condemn the unlawful assaults on Armenia’s sovereign territory because it did concerning Russia’s assault on Ukraine’s sovereign lands in Might this yr; the U.N. Safety Council should authorize a multinational peace-keeping drive; and the U.S. ought to observe the advice of U.S. policymakers and finish financial help to Azerbaijan. Armenians deserve the world’s assist.
Thomas Becker, a senior supervisor with the College Community for Human Rights, teaches human rights at Wesleyan College and Columbia Regulation Faculty. Anoush Baghadassarian, a latest graduate of Harvard Regulation Faculty, is a visiting skilled on the Worldwide Legal Court docket.