Human Rights Organization Labels Artsakh Conflict Genocide Against Armgenocide
Posted 15 January 2021 - 08:50 AM
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Posted 16 January 2021 - 09:33 AM
01/15/2021 Russia (International Christian Concern) – This week, the prime ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan met in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the peace agreement between the two countries following their brief war last fall. Although Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev expressed optimism about the compliance with the peace agreement signed in November, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan expressed his concern regarding several unresolved issues that remain for Armenia.
The issue at the forefront of many Armenians’ minds is the continued detention of Armenian soldiers captured by Azerbaijan during the war. Despite requests from the European Court of Human Rights, Azerbaijan has not released the identities nor information on the quantity of Armenian prisoners of war (POWs) that it still holds. Additionally, there is mounting evidence that Azerbaijani soldiers have abused and tortured Armenian POWs, in direct violation of international law.
The continued detention and reported abuse of Armenian POWs speaks to the deep hatred that is present throughout this conflict. The oldest Christian nation of Armenia has long been threatened by Turkish aggression. Dating back to the takeover of the Ottoman Empire, ethnic Armenians have been continually targeted by the rise of Islamic Turkish nationalism in the region. The Turkish-backed attack on Armenia in September and the brutality that followed are a manifestation of this long history of animosity towards ethnic Armenian Christians.
As part of the peace agreement, Russia has served as the peacekeeper between the two sides, overseeing the implementation of the agreement. 2,000 Russian troops have been deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian: Artsakh) to ensure that hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan do not start back up. It is expected that Russian presence in the Caucasus will continue to grow, potentially countering the presence of Turkey, a close ally of Azerbaijan.
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Posted 17 January 2021 - 09:32 AM
01/16/2021 Nagorno-Karabakh (International Christian Concern) – Local media reports that on January 13, relatives identified the body of 58-year-old Alvard Tovmasyan, found dead in the yard of her home in Karin Tak, a village of Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian: Artsakh). Relatives left the village on October 29, while Tovmasyan stayed behind. Azeri forces later captured the village and following the ceasefire agreement she was reported missing.
When Tovmasyan’s body was discovered, it had been mutilated nearly beyond recognition. Her brother Samvel only recognized her by her clothing. Relatives also reported that Tomasyan’s feet, hands and ears had been cut off as part of her torture. These types of atrocities are reminiscent of those committed during previous pogroms and genocides against the Armenian Christian community.
Tomasyan is one of many Armenians who were killed needlessly at the hands of Azeri forces in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Azerbaijan’s dehumanization of Armenian Christians is also influenced by Turkey. It is a combination which builds concern for the remaining Armenian Christian community in Nagorno-Karabakh.
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Posted 19 January 2021 - 09:01 AM
01/18/2021 Nagorno-Karabakh (International Christian Concern) – Though the war has ended in Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian: Artsakh), Azeri and Turkish messaging continue to undermine and threaten local Armenian Christians. Azerbaijani authorities are working to rewrite the narrative of Nagorno-Karabakh, teaching it to the younger generations and mass producing for consumption.
For example, a recent report highlighted how eighth grade textbooks include highly slanted language, discrediting any rights Armenians and Christians may have to the land. The textbooks blame Armenian Christians for Azerbaijan’s historical struggles, fostering an us versus them mentality. While Christianity and Islam both have historical roots in the region, it is dangerous to rewrite history in such a way to a younger generation who cannot question the government’s ideology.
Azerbaijan works to push the anti-Armenian, anti-Nagorno-Karabakh mindset to the broader public as well. State media boasted of new postage stamps, bearing “heroes” from the 44-day war. The stamps depict COVID workers alongside deminers and soldiers. Such cloaked language fit within the wider narrative by state media that Armenian residents of Nagorno-Karabakh are like a pandemic that needs to be eliminated.
This state media campaign against Armenians and the Christians of Nagorno-Karabakh further insights fear and tears down the Christian identity.
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Posted 20 January 2021 - 09:04 AM
in Russian – https://aga-tribunal...bner-14-1-2021/
Photo: A man prays in Ghazanchetsots Cathedral, Shusha, partly destroyed by shelling, in October 2020.
Note (Wikipedia): During the Armenia-Azerbaijan War of 1992-1993, John Eibner led CSI relief expeditions to CSI to Armenians in the blockaded territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, and to Azerbaijanis displaced from their homes in Nagorno-Karabakh.
There’s a genocide of Armenian Christians, according to the head of a human rights group, but it’s largely going unnoticed because of conflicts between world powers.
Although people often perceive the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan as another forgotten and meaningless conflict in a distant part of the world, it’s actually a genocide of Christians that springs from over a 100 years of history, Christian Solidarity International President John Eibner told The Christian Post. Disinformation campaigns by the government of Azerbaijan have covered up the truth.
Armenia and Azerbaijan are in conflict over a small area of land called Nagorno-Karabakh. The area is claimed by a small, independent Armenian republic.
“From an Armenian perspective, this area is their historic homeland. There are many different ways to describe it. Armenians will say this is part of Armenia, but it is not formally a part of the state of Armenia,” said Eibner.
Internationally, Nagorno-Karabakh is recognized as Azerbaijani land, but it’s mostly populated by Armenians and self-governed. After six weeks of war, Russia brokered a peace deal last year that left Armenia in control of most of the land and Azerbaijan in control of the rest. The conflict killed thousands and displaced hundreds of thousands.Caroline Cox and John Eibner. “Ethnic Cleansing in Progress: War in Nagorno Karabakh”, November 16, 2015 https://karabakhreco...r_karabakh.html
“It’s not just a local pushing and shoving. This problem has erupted as a part of a longer historical process and it’s erupted now because local geopolitical conditions have enabled it to erupt,” said Eibner.
In 1915, the Muslim Ottoman Empire killed over 1.5 million Armenians. Turkey still refuses to admit today that the event was a genocide. Most Armenians are Christians, and Armenia was the first nation to establish Christianity as a state religion. Azerbaijan was once a province of the Ottoman Empire, and human rights groups have called out ongoing discrimination against Armenians and “state-supported policy of Armenophobia.”
“People don’t understand Azerbaijanis are Turks. They speak a dialect of Turkish,” said Eibner. “Whenever there is a weakening in the protection that Armenians have and confusion in the international system, there’s another attempt to drive Armenians out of their lands.”
The last major attack on the Armenians happened in the 1990s, he said. Because Russia is the major Christian power in the region, Armenia usually works with Russia for protection from its Islamic neighbors. Eibner believes American leaders often don’t pay attention to threats to Armenia because Russia and the United States rival each other.
The United States works with Azerbaijan to oppose Iran. Because Azerbaijan borders Iran, American leaders give it money in exchange for a presence in the country, said Eibner.
Support from America, Israel and NATO to oppose Iran makes local leaders feel they have free rein. Often, American leaders do a better job of advocating for persecuted Christians in countries where they are strategically useful, he contended.
“Why does Azerbaijan feel empowered to make another move? It has done so because it has become oil rich. It has done so because it’s a member of NATO. It has done so because it has received sophisticated drones from Israel. It feels it has the cover to do so,” he said.
To cover up its genocidal attacks on Armenians, Azerbaijan has publicized stories of Armenian war crimes while minimizing its own, said Eibner. Atrocities happen in every war, but evidence suggests that Azerbaijan’s atrocities are far worse than the atrocities on the Armenian side. Azerbaijani communities have not suffered the way Armenian ones have.
“Information warfare is a part of any war. One has to understand not to take anything one hears from either side at face value,” he said. “Who lost? Where are the Armenians now who lived in areas now controlled by Azerbaijan? Why aren’t they living in their own homes today?”
In Turkey and in Islamic warfare, victors in war have a long tradition of treating the losers as less than human, said Eibner.
Christians who want to help Armenians should write their leaders in Congress, connect with local Armenian organizations and ask their pastors to speak about these issues in church, Eibner said.
“This is a tragedy at many different levels. People are homeless, people are killed, but it’s very much connected with the disappearance of Christians,” he said. “Washington has cared much more about Chinese Christians that Christians in Nagorno-Karabakh. If the trend continues, there simply won’t be viable Christian communities in the Middle East.”
This information in other resources
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Posted 21 January 2021 - 08:21 AM
We'll see, if US foreign policy changes towards Turkey. It hasn't in the past, Republican or Democrat makes no difference!
Jan 20 2021Secretary of State Nominee Questioned on Turkey and Nagorno-Karabakh
01/20/2021 United States (International Christian Concern) – This week, the U.S. Senate is holding confirmation hearings for President Joe Biden’s cabinet nominees, including his nominee for Secretary of State, Antony Blinken. During Blinken’s hearing, Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) specifically questioned him regarding the U.S.-Turkey alliance amidst Turkish domestic abuses of human rights and its aggressions in Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian: Artsakh).
The senator listed several human rights violations committed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government and concerning Turkish military aggressions in the Middle East. Senator Menendez asked Blinken if he was “clear-eyed” on the status of the Turkish alliance, to which Blinken said he was and that Turkey was an ally who has not been acting like an ally.
In his comments, Menendez heavily criticized the Trump Administration’s approach to Turkey, saying President Trump had “coddled” Erdogan.
Senator Menendez has long been an ally of Armenian Christians, advocating for the U.S. recognition of the Armenian genocide of 1915 and condemning Turkey’s aggressions in Nagorno-Karabakh, even going as far as to call out the war crimes of Turkish ally Azerbaijan in the conflict.
In accordance with Blinken’s comments during the hearing, the incoming Biden Administration is poised to take a harsher stance on the Turkish alliance. Especially with allies like Senator Menendez in Congress, a Biden state department headed by a Secretary Blinken will signal a staunch shift in U.S. attitudes towards Erdogan.
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Posted 22 January 2021 - 09:05 AM
From the Introduction:
“War erupted in the South Caucasus on 27 September 2020 when Azerbaijan and Turkey launched a joint military operation named Operation Iron Fist into the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian: Artsakh). A truce was brokered by Russia forty-four days later which ceded significant parts of Karabakh to Azerbaijan.
During those forty-four days, Azeri and Turkish-paid Syrian mercenaries published multiple accounts and footage demonstrating possible war crimes against the local community. Following the truce, Turkey entered a peacekeeping role alongside Russia. Nevertheless, Turkey demonstrates biased support to Azerbaijan, who persists in violating the truce’s terms and the basic principles
of human rights.
The dynamics of this conflict are deeply complex, but have strong religious freedom implications impacting the future of Karabakh’s local community. The strategic planning by Turkey and Azerbaijan show an intent of mass extermination, thereby genocide, of Karabakh’s Armenian residents because of their combined faith and ethnic identity.
These identities are important to the Pan-Turkic ideology driving Azerbaijan and Turkey’s activities in Karabakh. This ideology is hidden behind highly symbolic language. Tactics used to promote this ideology include erasing Christianity from the historical memory of Karabakh, dehumanizing local residents, dismantling their identity, and using a variety of impression management maneuvers to limit the ability of international observers to name this war for what it is: genocide.”
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Posted 28 January 2021 - 08:40 AM
01/27/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Turkish President Erdogan and Azerbaijani President Aliyev approved the building of a Grey Wolf School in the captured Nagorno-Karabakh city of Shushi. On January 30, 2021, they will begin to lay the school’s foundation.
The leader of Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahceli gave this announcement during a Parliamentary address on January 16th. He stated, , “I said that ‘If our President Recep Tayyip Erdogan grants permission, and if the President of Azerbaijan, Mr. Ilham Aliyev, finds it appropriate, it is our goal to build a school of nine classrooms in Shusha by the Ulku Ocaklari Education and Culture Foundation on my personal instructions. I said that the name of this school will be the late Üzeyir Hajibeyli, born in Shusha and composer of the Azerbaijani National Anthem and that it will be founded on 30 January 2021.’With the mutual agreement and approval of our President, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the President of Azerbaijan, Mr. Ilham Aliyev, our project to build a school in Shusha was approved.”
The Ulku Ocaklari Education and Culture Foundation is an official name of the Grey Wolves, which the international community recognizes as a terrorist organization. It is often described as Turkey’s MHP’s paramilitary wing and acknowledged their presence during the forty-four-day war in Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian: Artsakh). ICC documented their role in the conflict in the recently released report entitled The Anatomy of Genocide: Karabakh’s Forty-Four Day War.
The report recommends that the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom name the Grey Wolves as an Entity of Particular Concern. It explains that the Grey Wolves have “became known as a death squad and were involved in many religious freedom violations.” It further argues that religious freedom abuses during the Nagorno-Karabakh war “were often done using the cloaked language familiar to those associated with the Grey Wolves… Both Turkey and Azerbaijan once had a vibrant, diverse society. Today freedom of conscience and identity does not exist there. This is what is at stake in Nagorno-Karabakh.”
The city of Shushi belonged to the Armenian Christian territory of Nagorno-Karabakh until the Turkish-Azeri invasion in November 2020. During the invasion, Turkey targeted, dismantled, and/or destroyed Armenian Christian sites. The Armenian name of Shushi changed to Shusha as part of the forced demographic change. The city is important as it overlooks Nagorno-Karabakh’s capital of Stepanakert and is militarily considered a linchpin.
Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “The opening of a Grey Wolf school in Shushi further proves that this war has had strong ideological foundations from its start. Turkey has adopted a so-called peacekeeper position following the war, and we are disappointed in their approval of a school by a group that is internationally known for its extremism. It is no coincidence that some of the worst religious freedom incidents in Turkey’s history were at the hands of the Grey Wolves. This decision is completely incompatible with Turkish-Azeri promises to protect religious diversity. Unfortunately, similar decisions may be forthcoming if the international community continues to look the other way on Nagorno-Karabakh.”
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Posted 31 January 2021 - 08:15 AM
01/30/2021 Nagorno-Karabakh (International Christian Concern) – Media reports that only five Armenian prisoners of war have been returned by Azerbaijan following international attention to the status of Nagorno-Karabakh’s prisoners of war. Armenia has reportedly returned all Azeri captives from the 44-day war.
However, until January 28, no Armenian prisoners of war had yet been brought home. According to Article 8 of the Russian-brokered truce agreement this past November, there was supposed to be a full “exchange of prisoners of war and other detained persons and bodies of the dead.” Though Armenian has proactively been fulfilling these obligations, Azerbaijan has not reciprocated.
Russia had to broker the agreement to bring home the five Armenian captives held by Azerbaijan. A comprehensive plan for Armenian POW return was not completed during an earlier meeting this month. It was also reported that an additional 62 Armenian POWs talked with relatives on the phone.
Though not solely motivated for religious reasons, the war ignited by Azerbaijan and Turkey has strong religious freedom implications. The ethnic Armenian community in Nagorno-Karabakh is predominately Christian, and was indeed the first Christian nation in history. Azerbaijan and Turkey are united in their shared Turkic Muslim identity. Both the ethnic and religious elements factor heavily throughout this conflict. For more information, read ICC’s report on Nagorno-Karabakh, Anatomy of a Genocide. ICC’s petition for the return of Armenian POWs can be found at this link.
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Posted 13 February 2021 - 08:06 AM
02/12/2021 Nagorno-Karabakh (International Christian Concern) – A recent report detailed the execution of 19-year-old Erik Gasparyan, an Armenian soldier who fought in the Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian: Artsakh) war this past year. Gasparyan was one of the soldiers who was killed after Azerbaijan broke the ceasefire agreement on December 11 by attacking Hadrut.
The war ended on November 9 after a ceasefire agreement was reached trilaterally between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia. The December 11 attack came one day after a joint Azerbaijan-Turkey military parade, though Turkey is supposedly jointly acting as a peacekeeper with Russia.
Gasparyan’s gruesome execution-style murder was filmed, and videos released from Azeri troops provide the timeline for his death. He was originally captured on December 13 as several videos show him being transported with other soldiers. Believed propaganda footage was released on December 27, attempting to justify the Hadrut attack and the later killing of Armenian soldiers. Footage of Gasparyan’s body being mutilated and degraded also surfaced.
Gasparyan is just one of the many Armenians who lost their lives in the Nagorno-Karabakh war, one that appears to continue taking lives even after a ceasefire was reached. ICC’s joint report on Turkey addresses Turkey’s role in the Nagorno-Karabakh war saying, “Turkey has an obligation under national and international law to uphold Freedom of Religion or Belief… This obligation for religious freedom extends to those territories under Turkish military control.” However, Turkey continues to contributing to horrific war crimes such as these.
Posted 20 February 2021 - 12:18 PM
02/19/2021 Azerbaijan (International Christian Concern) – A group of Armenian pilgrims heading towards the Armenian monastery in Dadivank were originally blocked and have since been allowed to enter. The monastery came under Azerbaijan’s control following the 44-day war.
On February 7 a group of Armenian Christians were seeking to visit the monastery and were accompanied by Russian peacekeepers. Previously, only the number of pilgrims had to be reported in advance of their trip, and that no more than 30 could visit at a time. However, on February 7 the group was met with new restrictions and told to wait in a nearby village. When they attempted to return, they were again turned away and told that the names of the visitors must be provided in advance. On February 14 the Christians were finally able to visit Dadivank.
Azerbaijan also continues to threaten the security and safety of Armenians via political maneuvers. Azeri President Ilham Aliyev recently introduced and announced the recipients of the National Hero and Patriotic War Hero awards. Most notably, Ibad Huseynov reportedly received the National Hero award. Huseynov was a veteran of the first Nagorno-Karabakh war in which he received significant attention after he boasted of photos of him holding the severed head of an Armenian soldier. His prominence was promoted in and by Azeri politicians and press, as well as gaining the attention of Turkish President Erodgan who has been photographed shaking hands with Huseynov.
Azerbaijani rhetoric towards Armenians and Christians continues to appear heavily influenced by Turkish ideologies. Limitations placed on Armenians as well as the promotion of violent human rights offenders indicate that the fallout from the most recent Nagorno-Karabakh war is still just beginning.
Posted 26 February 2021 - 09:24 AM
02/25/2021 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – Civil society group Anadolu Kültür (Anatolian Culture), founded by Osman Kavala, is being brought to court by Turkey’s trade ministry for an investigation into its public filing. The organization was founded in 2002 to promote cross-cultural dialogue and understanding through the arts, which included Armenian culture and its historically Christian heritage.
The recent lawsuit accuses the company of operating as a non-profit despite its registration as a company. It is believed that the charges are an attempt to continue to smear Kavala’s name as he has remained in solitary confinement and imprisoned since November 2017. The organization will appear in court on April 15.
In 2016, prior to his imprisonment, Kavala utilized Anadolu Kültür as a way of increasing reconciliation efforts between Turks and Armenians, as outlined in ICC’s Turkey Report. Calling into question the validity of this company further promotes the idea that Armenians and Christians are inherently anti-Turkish and should not be engaged or condoned in any manner.
Posted 27 February 2021 - 08:55 AM
02/26/2021 Azerbaijan (International Christian Concern) – Today marks the 33rd anniversary of the Sumgait pogrom that took place against ethnic Armenian Christians. In late February 1988, Azerbaijanis attacked Armenians living in Sumgait, Azerbaijan, resulting in many deaths, looting, burnings of cars, and rioting. Pogroms and other acts of violence resulted in the near erasure of Armenians from Azerbaijan.
Now 33 years later, the violence and targeting of Armenians continue. Through the Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian: Artsakh) war this past fall, Armenian Christians were again forced from their homes. A new, hateful narrative is being rewritten by Azerbaijan in an attempt to negate the Christian history there and also justify their aggression. This aggression is supported and encouraged by Turkey, who is also amplifying Azerbaijan’s President Aliyev’s speech today that shows a desire for complete subjection of Karabakh’s Armenian community.
Azerbaijan has also forcibly stopped all search operations in Nagorno-Karabakh since February 15. This is the longest searches have stopped since the ceasefire agreement. These operations were conducted by Armenians looking for the bodies of those who died during the war.
Armenian Christians are being denied the right to bury their dead, or even to have confirmation of what happened to their loved ones as a result of Azerbaijan cutting off access to their newly-controlled territory. The Azerbaijani and Turkish narratives continue to reinforce how little they value the lives of ethnic Armenian Christians.
Posted 01 March 2021 - 10:32 AM
02/28/2021 Armenia (International Christian Concern) – A criminal complaint has been filed against a woman for hate speech who said she would cut off the heads of 20 Armenians if she knew she would not be punished for it. The woman in question was interviewed on the street by a YouTube channel asking people what actions they would do if they would not receive punishment. She later said she was Azerbaijani.
A member of the Armenian parliament announced he was filing an official criminal complaint against her for her hate speech. Incitement towards violence against Armenian Christians is common rhetoric coming from Turkish and Azerbaijani governments. The Armenian parliament has been critical of particularly Turkish rhetoric that has been ongoing since before the conflict began.
According to a report by the Hrant Dink Foundation, Armenians were the most targeted ethnic minority in Turkish media with hate speech in 2019. Since the Nagorno-Karabakh war that ended in November 2020, Azerbaijan and Turkey continually signify that they do not value the lives of Armenians and their Christian heritage.
Posted 04 March 2021 - 08:25 AM
03/03/2021 Nagorno-Karabakh (International Christian Concern) – Many cultural collections located in Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian: Artsakh) are now under Azerbaijani control. Geological, cultural, and historical items that were moved into bomb shelters in Shushi are now claimed by Azerbaijan. Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh representatives appealed via Russian peacekeepers for their return, although there has not been any success so far.
Several have been critical that the precious items were even allowed to remain in Shushi. During the war, Shushi was considered invincible and many believed it would not fall to Azerbaijan. As such, some museums only transferred items into bomb shelters instead of shipping them out of the region.
The claiming of Nagorno-Karabakh’s historical items is part of the attempts of Azerbaijan, supported by Turkey, to rewrite the narrative and discredit the regions Armenian Christian history. The acquisition and reconstitution of these artifacts and religious sites are being utilized to negate and/or rewrite Christian history in Nagorno-Karabakh. This sends a message that Armenian Christians are no longer welcome in the present moment.
Posted 06 March 2021 - 08:48 AM
The Turkish Government was said to have used cluster munitions and white phosporus gas during the war and even celebrated the tactics they used last December 10 through a victory parade.
According to International Christian Concern, the document is meant to "distract" people from the real issue, which is "committing genocide against Christians."
"This report by Turkey, particularly given its length, is meant to overwhelm and distract us from the real issue at hand. Which is that Turkey, a NATO ally, is committing genocide against Christians," declared International Christian Concern Middle East Regional Manager Claire Evans in their organization's website.
The International Christian Concern reported that the said document has a very lengthy historical analysis of what transpired during the war to "justify its actions." They said that the historical analysis can only set the context of the what happened but would not be able to justify any human rights abuses the Turkish Government has done in the past and present. Accordingly, International Christian Concern said that this is a technique of the Turkish Government of "erasing the collective memory of Christianity as an excuse not to pursue religious freedom protections for the local communities."
"This report shows the depth to which Turkey will message its narrative. It cannot be contradicted by those on the ground who are living the consequences of Turkey's actions, without risking their personal lives and safety," Evans added, "It is absurd that Turkey can so blatantly acknowledge its role in igniting a war, in using the language of genocide to win it, and yet still have an internationally recognized peace-keeping role over newly conquered territories."
In "The Anatomy Of Genocide; Karabakh's Forty-Four Day War," prepared and released by International Christian Concern last January, a background on the war is given alongside advocacy recommendations and the history of Nagorno-Karabakh. The war broke on September 27, 2020 in South Caucasus, Turkey and lasted for forty-four days until Russia stepped in. Footages of the war crimes were published by the Azeri and paid Turkish Syrian mercenaries.
International Christian Concern explained that the dynamics of the war was deeply complex but had strong implications on religious freedom since it is basically set to "erase Christianity from the historical memory of Karabakh." It also aimed to "dehumanize local residents" by "dismantling their identity" and by "using a variety of impression management maneuvers to limit the ability of international observers to name the war" for the "genocide" that it is.
Posted 10 March 2021 - 08:34 AM
03/08/2021 Armenia (International Christian Concern) – A military cemetery rests on a hilltop just outside of Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. Since 1988, Yerablur Pantheon has served as the burial place for ethnic Armenian soldiers who lost their lives defending Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian: Artsakh). This small country located in the South Caucasus is predominately Armenian Christian, and has been for millennia. But decades of wars, religious genocides, and ethnic cleansing has threatened the existence of Karabakh’s Armenian Christians.
Yerablur is a reminder of this situation. When I asked Vahe Yeprikyan, a young lawyer and patriot of his country, the question “what kind of meaning does Yerablur have for you?”, his answer spoke volumes.
He replied, “Yerablur for me is not just a cemetery, and it’s not the voice of death I hear in the silence of the air of this height here. It is the sanctuary of those who fell in love with our homeland for eternity. Fallen heroes like Ishkhan are buried here, but did Ishkhan die? …Who says that life ends when the heart stops beating? It is a lie; the heroes live as long as they are remembered…”
Iskhan Petrosyan was one of the 5 thousand martyrs who died protecting Karabakh from Azerbaijani-Turkish aggression last year. “It’s very hard to speak about my friend Ishkhan thinking he is not with us anymore,” Vahe says emotionally. “He was a man full of optimism with a cheerful and gentle soul, seeing the positive side in evil, and always was smiling.”
“We met over dinner just days before the war began in September, had a couple of drinks or two, spoke about our country, statehood, and its future. After these long pleasant hours-long discussions, with a big smile on his face, Ishkhan said his daughter Taguhi (whose name means ‘Queen’ in Armenian) is getting married soon. He was always sentimental speaking about his daughters, and those sentiments became more visible in his eyes filled with a sad gleam: Ishkhan knew somewhere along the line his daughters will get married and move from their parental house,” he continued.
“To make a long story short, it was getting late, and next day was work for both of us, we said good bye promising to see each other over the weekend. Unfortunately, there was no next time. The next Sunday, the war broke out…”
Ishkhan, whose grandparents survived the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire (modern day Turkey), had served in the military decades ago during the first Karabakh war. With this new war, he would again throw himself into the frontline. He bravely went forward to protect his country and his daughters, their future, so that he would not inherit a war to his grandchildren. He wanted to leave for them a peaceful state.
He did not survive, and is buried at Yerablur Pantheon.
Just days ago, his daughter Taguhi was married to her beloved man, just as it was planned. She visited her dad’s grave at Yerablur Pantheon and asked his blessing before the marriage. The bride does not have a wedding bouquet in her hands, instead placing the flowers on her father’s grave under her feet. The smile on the bride’s face talking to her father certainly is not full: grief has fallen on her face and is frozen within her eyes.
“I am sure Ishkhan has the same big smile on his face, looking from above as he had at the night when I saw him the last time,” Vahe concludes.
Rest in peace dear Ishkhan. Your fallen blood will still flow in your grandchildren’s veins.
To learn more about how Turkey and Azerbaijan joined together to commit genocide against Armenian Christians in Karabakh, read the report Anatomy of Genocide: Karabakh’s Forty-Four Day War.
Posted 17 March 2021 - 07:31 AM
03/16/2021 Armenia (International Christian Concern) – At least two Armenian Christian villages are now divided in two after the ceasefire deal that ceded parts of Nagorno-Karabakh’s (Armenian: Artsakh) territory to Azerbaijan, according to local media reports. The border with Azerbaijan now runs through the towns of Shurnukh and Taghavard.
Villagers who have called these places home for years now look out their window and see Azerbaijani troops patrolling not far from them. Shurnukh is home to 28 farming families. About a dozen homes now fall in Azerbaijan territory. One villager named Stepan Movsisyan even has his property divided. His house remains in Karabakh, but half of his cow shed now falls under Azeri control.
Such is also the case in Taghavard. As the line is drawn in a once unified village, residents find themselves without access to their grazing land, farming equipment, and natural resources that now lay under Azerbaijan’s control. Infrastructure especially causes issues for many residents as the city must rebuild. These cities are on the new frontlines of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
At the same time, Azerbaijan is currently engaging in large military exercises, consisting of up to 10,000 soldiers and heavy artillery. The reported purpose is to train against illegal armed and terrorist groups in mountainous and difficult terrain. This is not the first time that Azerbaijan has held military exercises that is meant to flex their military might over Armenia. Many are concerned that these exercises are but preparation for yet another invasion into Karabakh.
Posted 21 March 2021 - 07:18 AM
03/19/2021 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – The historical site of an Armenian and Catholic cemetery is being desecrated in Ulus, Ankara as construction continues on top of human remains. The Chamber of Architects Ankara Branch verified the remains and submitted stop work requests to several overseeing ministries. Not only does the construction of a state-owned bank continue, but oppositional political leaders are being barred from entering the site.
MP Garo Paylan, an Armenian-Turkish politician of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) condemned the continued construction and submitted questions to Parliament on why action was allowed to continue. Tezcan Karakuş Candan, President of the Chamber of Architects Ankara, also spoke out saying “the ongoing construction is a great disrespect to the multiculturalism of Anatolia. It is inhumane to be dumping concrete on top of those who lived in Anatolia, regardless of their religion, language or race.”
Paylan, Candan, and their accompanying group were stopped by police when they attempted to examine the Armenian cemetery site on March 16. Public outcry and sentiment speak of the historical Armenian presence in Anatolia and the disrespect shown to ancestors and those of a different religion, notably Christianity.
Armenian Christians are facing significant attacks against their heritage from both Turkey and Azerbaijan. Sacred places and items to Armenian Christians are being destroyed or misused for tourist attractions.
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