Proactions for protecting Artsakh’s Right to Exist

By Prof. Z. S. Andrew Demirdjian, Los Angeles, 17 November 2023

In light of the increasing anti-Armenian propaganda which falsely claims the exodus of the ethnic Armenians from Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) was voluntary intense effort has to be made to combat pro-Azeri propaganda.

Undoubtedly, Azerbaijan’s Machiavellian policy (consider its Caviar Diplomacy, the Azeri Laundromat, buying Hungarian bonds to get the release of an Azeri soldier who had killed Armenian soldier in Hungary) is geared to deny any wrongdoing to the 120, 000 ethnic Armenians of Artsakh.

As a result of widespread Azeri falsehoods,, there is urgent need to set the record straight before the lie becomes truth through repetition by the Azerbaijani propaganda machine and its sycophant collaborators including some of the members of the United Nations.

There is dire need to inoculate the public against false claims that exonerate Azerbaijan’s crimes against humanity.

We need to prepare the Armenian refugees about a few facts to remember when they are interviewed by international refugee protection organizations and the international media.

Beleaguered Artsakh refugees should adopt the following strategies:

Know thy Homeland

Refugee organizations or agency personnel including journalists may not know Artsakh. Refugees should be ready to respond to their inquires about their homeland.

According to numerous scholars, the ancient Armenians were around for over 3,000 years. The Egyptians also had a 3,000 year-old civilization, but they mysteriously disappeared. Tenaciously, Armenians are still around. The Armenian civilization is one of the longest surviving civilizations.

Artsakh was one of the 15 provinces of the Kingdom of Greater Armenia, where indigenous Armenians lived continuously for thousands of years. The people of Artsakh are the natives, but Azeris are newcomers; they are the descendants of Turko-Mongol conquerors. Artsakh is an Armenian territory captured by Central Asian Turks.

First Artsakh War (1988-1994)

The Republic of Artsakh is an integral part of Armenia. During the Soviet era, Artsakh was arbitrarily carved out of Armenia in 1921 by Joseph Stalin and placed temporarily under the jurisdiction of Soviet Azerbaijani administration. However, the enclave kept its autonomous status, as part of the Soviet divide-and-conquer strategy in the South Caucasus. At this time, Azerbaijan was newly minted as a state or country for the first time ever in 1918.

When the Soviet rule dissolved, Azerbaijan claimed Artsakh to be part of its territory, but the Armenians of Artsakh held a referendum in 1988 and decided to be free and independent on the democratic principle of self-determination. As a result, war erupted between Artsakh and Azerbaijan. In 1994 a ceasefire was mediated by Russia for the cessation of armed hostilities between Artsakh and Azerbaijan. The conflict had to be resolved peacefully through negotiations. However, this fragile ceasefire was breeched by Aliyev for a number of times by aggressions toward Armenia and Artsakh.

Between 1988 and 1994, the Artsakh Defense Forces had regained their province including seven regions around it to be used as buffer zone. Artsakh remained a model democratic republic for nearly 30 years until 2023.

The Second Artsakh War (2020)

Deaf to the war drums of Aliyev, Armenian generals were ill-prepared to counter Azerbaijan’s offensive. As a result, they lost the second war to Azerbaijan miserably in 2020. Artsakh also lost the seven regions around it including one third of its territory and became a rump state. The casualties were nearly equal on both sides.

Russia brokered a ceasefire between Artsakh and Azerbaijan for five years beginning on Nov. 9, 2020. However, as usual, Aliyev failed to respect his commitment by several incursions into Armenia proper as well as Artsakh –with impunity –while the Western powers turned a blind eye to Aliyev’s breaking of international laws.

The Deadly Blockade (2023)

On December 12, 2023, on a trumped up lame excuse of protecting the environment, a group of so-called environmentalists from Azerbaijan blockaded the Berdzor (Lachin) Corridor, which is Artsakh’s only link to Armenia and beyond. The population of 120,000 people was stranded and deprived of food, medicine, fuel, and other essential items for survival for months and months despite the UN and other agencies have ordered Azerbaijan to reopen the corridor for the transport of essentials to the besieged people of Artsakh. The strategy of weaponizing the siege starvation traumatized the people.

The Blitzkrieg (2023)

On Sept. 13 and 14, 2023, Azerbaijan launched surprise artillery and missile attacks on the residents of Stepanakert for two grueling days. Supposedly, the aim of the attack was to dislodge terrorists hidden in the capital city of Stepanakert by purposely ignoring the presence of civilians to terrify them to flee their homes.

Azerbaijan forces killed over 200 persons and fatally 400 unarmed men, women, and children in Stepanakert.  The whole brutal event terrorized the people. While the bombs were falling on their heads, Aliyev the Magnanimous offered the terrorized people the option to stay. Overwhelmed by the surprise attack, outgunned, and outnumbered, the Republics of Artsakh surrendered and later all of its government officials were captured for alleged crimes.

The Tragedy of Artsakh (2023)

What happened to Artsakh Defense Forces during the 44-Day War with the Azerbaijani, Turkey’s, and Israeli forces was unexpected, sad, and shocking. However, what happened to Artsakh on Sept. 13 and 14 under Azerbaijani surprise attack on Stepanakert was devastating to Armenians around the world –for it entailed the uprooting of the 120,000 natives of Artsakh from their ancestral homeland.

Of all the bad news, the surrender of Artsakh was the worst. If Armenians forget Artsakh, if they consider it a done deal, a gone case just like the loss of Nakhitechvan, it would devastate the Armenians for years to come. Therefore, it is incumbent also on the Artsakh refugees to keep the flame burning under each and every Armenian around the world for returning to the homeland. Otherwise, it would haunt the Armenian nation as deeply as the loss does of the 1915-1923 Armenian Genocide.

Please read more in the following article on how it would affect the Armenians if they were to write off Artsakh as lost in their hearts and minds: “Abandoning Artsakh Would Haunt Armenians Forever“, published in Keghart.org on October 7, 2023 and in the USA Armenian Life Magazine on Oct. 15, 2023.

A Government in Exile

To get things done in any enterprise, Armenians would need an organized group motivated to achieve the group’s mission, goals and objectives. Particularly, the leadership should not be occupied by local politics of the host country; instead, all energies should be directed at making life easier for the refugees and at returning Artsakh to its rightful natives. Since almost all of Artsakh’s government officials were arrested for allegedly various crimes, a vacuum of leadership has been created.

To organize for the proactive campaign of protecting the Artsakh’s right to exist, Artsakh Armenians would need effective transformational leaders all showing evidence of high levels of inspiration, integrity, selflessness, experience, and pro-action. Otherwise, the refugees would miss out opportunities to enhance their chance to return to Artsakh. If all would do their part proactively, with the spirit of unity, and concerted effort, chances are they would get ahead in protecting the rights of the dislocated people of Artsakh.

For a detailed approach to organizing a government in exile, please read “Empowering Artsakh’tsis with a Government in Exile“, published in the USA Armenian Life Magazine, Nov. 3, 2023 and in Keghart.org, Nov. 5, 2023. Also a lot of valuable information can be gleaned from The Dynamics of Organizing a Diaspora (1915).

Need for Damage Control

Most Armenian refugees coming from rural areas would not know what to do to not lose their opportunities away from home, especially in dealing with international refugee organizations. It is important for the leadership in exile to devise some ways for the refugees to register with refugee agencies, to keep records of their homes, businesses, farms, and belongings in Artsakh since they had to evacuate at warp speed to avoid inhumane treatment by Azerbaijan.

Several international organizations have issued Red Flag Warnings for the likelihood of Azerbaijan committing ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Armenians of Artsakh. Details of what to do are included in “For Artsakh’s Survival: Some Damage Control Strategies,” published in Keghart.org on Sept. 28, 2023 and it also appeared in the USA Armenian Life Magazine on Oct. 10, 2023.

Ethnic Cleansing/Genocide

The fall of Artsakh will be debated whether it is ethnic cleansing or genocide for years to come. As mentioned, the Azerbaijani propaganda machine is in gear to discredit any claim that the exodus of Armenians from Artsakh was their fault and that Azeris are not responsible for ethnic cleansing or for genocide.

The refugees should equip themselves with the knowledge of what it takes to constitute an act as ethnic cleansing or what the requirements are for genocide. It is crucial that each and every one of the refugees knows the difference and the combination thereof. If one is not well versed in those two major crimes against humanity, then it would be very difficult to convince others of the atrocities of Azerbaijan’s criminal acts which made them flee their homes.

Therefore, the refugees should have an appreciation of what the following self-explanatory Flowchart 1 aims to convince the public that Azerbaijan’s criminal acts against the Armenians of Artsakh amounts to ethnic cleansing and Genocide:

The Ethnic Cleansing Genocide of Artsakh:
The Input Variables Required for Ethnic Cleansing
Are The Same or Analogous to Variables As The Input for Genocide

Additionally, please read “The Capturing of Artsakh: Implications of Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide,” published in Keghart.org on Nov. 5, 2023 and in the USA Armenian Life Magazine on Nov. 16, 2023.

Please use the “Search” box on the front page of Keghart by typing the author’s name (Z. S. Andrew Demirdjian) for locating the above-mentioned articles in Keghart. Likewise “The latest news in USA Armenian Life Magazine.”

In sum, the only way for Artsakh to exist is for its natives to quest for the return of their republic from the occupation of Azerbaijan. No one else would do this for them, not the Western powers, not the Federation of Russia.

There is a lot of work to be done to keep the wish to return to homeland alive in the minds and hearts of those who had fled their homeland. Please remember pro-action means action that initiates change as opposed to reaction to events. It is the art of taking control of your destiny.

Mother Armenia statue, (Yerevan, Armenia), symbolizes peace, patience, and strength.

 

 

 

 

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