April 24, 2023 will be the 108th anniversary of the beginning of the Armenian Genocide. That is what we thought, but it may not be true? The truth is that the Armenian Genocide, as it has been taught to us in school, ended in 1923 after two million Armenians were murdered. Now, the rest of the story.
There is a war going on that is not getting much coverage in the media, but involves the Armenian Genocide not in 1923 but one hundred years later in 2023. This is problem that we as Catholics should be concerned about.
The simple truth is almost two months ago a small country had its contact with the outside world completely shut down under some very odd circumstances.
On January 31, 2023, the Los Angeles Times Opinion page published an article about Artsakh. They laid out the case for: We can't let history repeat itself with the siege of Nagorno-Karabakh
The world watched and allowed a brutal genocide three decades ago in the Bosnian city of Srebrenica. A tragically similar crisis is looming again. Global leaders know how this could end, and they have no excuse to stand by. Indeed, they are bound by law and human decency to intervene and protect the 120,000 civilians in the Armenian-majority Republic of Artsakh.
Upon the breakup of the former Yugoslavia 30 years ago, Bosnia declared independence. The Serbian central government responded by launching a brutal military campaign to crush Bosnia’s attempt at self-determination.The conflict reached a critical point with the siege of Srebrenica, whose residents included a Bosnian self-defense force and many civilians. During the siege, the United Nations provided some emergency supplies, but hardly enough to meet the needs of the besieged population. Following a period of starvation, in July 1995 Serbian forces entered the city and began killing civilians. The Srebrenica genocide was underway. Later trials at the International Court of Justice affirmed that this was genocide, and the Dutch Supreme Court held the Netherlands responsible for some of the deaths for not trying hard enough to stop the killings.Around the time Bosnia declared independence, the Soviet Union was collapsing and Soviet republics declared their own independence. An autonomous enclave within Soviet Azerbaijan known as Nagorno-Karabakh, which had a majority-Armenian population, also declared its intention to exercise its right to self-determination. The Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, a minority group within Soviet Azerbaijan, were subjected to decades of abuse and pogroms. Following the enclave’s declaration of independence, with eerie echoes of events unfolding in Bosnia, the Azeri government mounted a similar operation of ethnic cleansing and launched an attack on the enclave’s Armenian population.After several years of war, the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians prevailed and in 1995 formed an independent democratic state known as the Republic of Artsakh, based on the ancient pre-Stalin name of the region. For the next 25 years, the unrecognized democratic Republic of Artsakh engaged effectively with international institutions and European oversight bodies to enhance governance and civil society infrastructure.
Why should we be concerned as Catholics? There is a genocide going on today. It is an outgrowth of educide. Educide is the genocide of education- a complete rewriting and reframing of history. No longer are facts truly important. This process is what was left over from the Armenian Genocide 1915-1923. During the time before the genocide, the area of Artsakh was a majority Armenian population. In fact, Astsakh was a vital part of the Armenian Kingdom, spoke Armenian, they were Christian, and their leaders were relatives of some of the most famous Armenian noble families. In fact, if we were to stop right there, Armenians were living on this land long before the Azei migrated to this area. Azerbaijan was a country created by USSR’s Joseph Stalin in the early 1920s.
The history of Aberjian revolved around the history of oil. In 1846 oil wells had been drilled in the Baku Oil Field. Then by 1900, the Baku Oil Field was the world's number one oil producer. In fact, that same year, Baku produced over 50% of the oil in the world. Even by the beginning of World War I the Baku Oil Field produced more than 18% of all of the oil in the world. Today, Baku still produces oil but not at the levels it once did. Much of the money and foreign policy of Azerbaijan has been tied to the oil field.
On Jan. 30, 2023, both Armenia and Aberjian were in front of the World Court arguing over the Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Armenia v. Azerbaijan), referring to Article 41 of the Statute of the Court and Article 73 of the Rules of Court. In its Request, Armenia states that “[o]n 12, 2022, Azerbaijan orchestrated a blockade of the only road connecting the 120,000 ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh with the outside world, thereby preventing anyone and anything from entering or exiting”. It further claims that “[the] blockade is ongoing as of the date of [its] Request,requestere are no signs that it will be lifted any time soon”.
Armenia asked the Court to take the following interim steps: "Armenia respectfully asks the Court to take the following steps in the meantime: Azerbaijan should stop organizing and backing the so-called "protests" that stop people from moving freely along the Lachin Corridor in both directions;
Azerbaijan shall ensure uninterrupted free movement of all persons, vehicles, and cargo along the Lachin Corridor in both directions”
"Azerbaijan must fully restore natural gas and other public utilities to Nagorno-Karabakh right away and stop interfering with or stopping them."
Rationale For The World Court’s Help
I. The blockade targets ethnic Armenians because they are Armenian.
So, to the blockade and the relevant context. In 2020, the Court will remember that tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians were forced to leave areas that Azerbaijan had taken over during the 44-day war. Not a single person has been able to return to their home. When the war ended, the Russian Federation sent peacekeepers to the region to "prevent the mass death of Nagorno-Karabakh's civilian population"  (these are the words of the Federation Council decree authorizing the deployment: "prevent the mass death of Nagorno-Karabakh's civilian population"). Even so, Azerbaijan has been doing its best to make the lives of the remaining ethnic Armenians in the region intolerable. It has attacked Armenian villages in violation of the ceasefire agreement. It has forcibly displaced residents of Res Aghavno, including all Armenians from the villages of Parukh, Berdzor, Aghavno, and Sus. It has intimidated and killed Armenians who just happened to be going about their lives near its armed forces. And it has repeatedly cut off access to gas, electricity, and the internet. Azerbaijan has always been blunt about its objective.
II. Azerbaijan’s actions are causing very serious humanitarian consequences
The second part of my intervention, the humanitarian consequences of Azerbaijan’s actions. These are not hard to imagine. The Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh is, as I said, approximately 120,000 people. This number includes 30,000 children and 20,000 elderly people. With students, the population is essentially the same as that of Leiden. What would happen to the people there, if it were essentially walled off from the outside world for 50 days, with only the most minimal trickle of goods allowed in, and gas and electricity supplies cut? No great leap of imagination is required to answer that question
III. Azerbaijan’s excuses are not credible
Faced with these stark and widely condemned facts, what does Azerbaijan say? Not much actually. We look forward to hearing what it has to say later today, though we expect it will be much of the same. Azerbaijan next claimed that “protesters are not blocking the road and that the Russian Federation peacekeepers are allowing the passage of residents, essential medical services, and humanitarian supplies on the Lachin Road” Orwell’s line about rejecting the evidence of your eyes and ears seems apposite here. Literally, no one in the world outside of Azerbaijan actually believes that protestors are not blocking the road.
Azerbaijan’s Main arguments:
1. Armenia is planting landmines to destroy Azerbaijani citizens
To be fair, please read both sides of this issue and make up your own mind. Is this a case of ethnic cleansing or are Azerbaijanis defending their own rights?
Read both sides of this issue and make up your mind. Look into what they both are saying and see what makes sense to you. Why is this important? Why should we as Catholic care?
The bottom line is simple we need to learn what is really going on. We need to quit depending on others to make up our minds for us. Is this a Genocide? Why is this happening again? Could it be because we are simply not paying attention?
Remember these words.
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.