The Direct Evidence on Artsakh’s Ethnic-cleansing Genocide

By Prof. Z. S. Andrew Demirdjian, Monarch Beach CA, February 2024

“Your motivation may be that you want the people out,
but if in doing that you intend to destroy the group,
then it’s also genocide.”
Professor James Silk (Yale Law School)

Legally, a better than a smoking gun has surfaced. It came from the horse’s mouth: without the following admission we would not have been able to establish a direct, incontrovertible, incriminating evidence that President Aliyev had the intention to eradicate the natives of Artsakh on September 19 and 20, 2023, surprise attack on Stepanakert.  If the remaining population of Artsakh had not surrendered to his forces, President Aliyev would have “eliminated” them.

Here is the supporting evidence. According to an over twenty-page report in English on the Internet, on January 10, 2024, President Aliyev gave a lengthy two-and-half-hour (2.5) long press conference to Azeri reporters of various TV channels during which he expressed his usual venom toward Republic of Armenia (RoA) and the Armenians.

President Aliyev also expressed his threats of having his way with the so-called Azerbaijani territories in RoA, especially the realization of his and Turkey’s dream of the so-called “Zangezur Corridor, connecting the Nakhichevan exclave with mainland Azerbaijan without any checkpoints or customs inspections by RoA.

During the national press interview cited above, President Aliyev admitted his intent of genocide of the people of whom 200 had already been killed and 400 wounded to terrorize the people into fleeing their homeland, by stating –“Had they [the Armenians of Artsakh] not surrendered, they would have been eliminated. There was no other option.” The act is a crime of genocide no matter how many Armenians were killed 200 or 120,000 by Azerbaijan. It is one of the UN rules pertaining to genocide.

“They [The people of Artsakh] would have been eliminated” means Aliyev had the intention to liquidate or eradicate them had they continued to defend themselves against his aggression, but he could only eliminate part of them, which is still genocide.

In a court of law, when someone is accused of a crime and enters a “not guilty” plea, the prosecutor would have a herculean task to prove otherwise. However, when a smoking gun or direct evidence surfaces such as a defendant’s admission of guilt, the entire case takes a new direction to convict the suspect with the new irrefutable evidence.

So is true with Aliyev. He has admitted his intent to eradicate the rest of the population of Artsakh for wanting to remain free and independent in their ancestral lands.

Not too many leaders leave traces of their plans to exterminate a group of people in part or whole. Hitler’s Nazi regime is an exception, which put it in writing and speaking about the “final solution” of the Jews. And now, we have President Aliyev to have admitted his intent, advertently, inadvertently, or ignorantly to “eliminate” the population of Nagorno-Karabakh. In so doing, he has incriminated himself of Ethnic-Cleansing Genocide.

President Aliyev may be the second head of state to have left evidence of his intent to exterminate an entire ethnic group. Here we have an unequivocal piece of information that proves Aliyev had committed the crime of genocide by killing part of the inhabitants of Artsakh and intending to wipe them out if they continued to refuse to succumb to his wish.

The term “smoking gun” is a reference to an object or fact that serves as a relatively conclusive evidence of a crime or similar act, just short of being caught in “flagrante delicto”. Smoking gun refers to the strongest kind of circumstantial evidence, as opposed to direct evidence, which is the primary, the ultimate evidence to convict a defendant of the accused crime.

Let us not forget: Since the Second Artsakh War in 2020, a number of  international genocide watch organizations have warned the world of the looming massacres of Armenians by genocidal Azerbaijan, causing fear and anxiety in the natives of Artsakh. Besides, Azerbaijan’s track record in the brutal treatment of the Armenians in Azerbaijan is well documented in specific pogroms and massacres throughout its adjustment as a newly minted state in 1918.

In a criminal proceeding, a defendant’s confession or admission of guilt invariably constitutes direct evidence. Now that we have the incriminating admission from the horse’s mouth, we can conclude with 100 percent certainty that President Ilham Aliyev is guilty of Ethnic-Cleansing Genocide of the natives of Artsakh.

President Aliyev is being interviewed at the press conference on January 10, 2024. By admitting his intent to “eliminate” the people of Artsakh, he has incriminated himself. On account of killing part of the people of Artsakh during the surprise attack on September 19 and 20, 2023, and based on his past track record of atrocities brought upon the Armenians, we can bestow upon him the distinct honor of being the “Butcher of South Caucasus,” who does not hesitate to commit ethnic-cleansing genocide to get his way.

Why Artsakh Citizens Fled Their Homeland 

By Prof. Z. S. Andrew Demirdjian, Monarch Beach CA, 6 March 2024

People leave their homeland for a variety of reasons, including war, violence, persecution, torture, human rights violation, discrimination, negative economic conditions, and hatred toward minorities by the in-group which had conquered their country in the distant past. In the case of indigenous Artsakh people, they had become a target of hatred because of their claim to become independent on their ancestral lands.

The 1951 Geneva Convention spells out who qualifies as a refugee and the kind of legal protection, other assistance, and social rights he or she should receive from the countries that have signed the document.

Logic dictates that war alone would not have triggered a mass exodus of the indigenous people of Artsakh. Part of the natives would have stayed home. The fact that the entire population of the Armenian enclave fled their homeland in September of 2023, substantiates the claim that multiple causes made the entire population seek shelter in another country.

The 44-Day War in 2020, for example, did not make the entire population of Artsakh flee their country. The separate factors of war with the fear of violence, and dread of persecution created the fright stimulus to leave their ancestral lands after the surprise attack on Artsakh on Sept. 19 and 20, 2023.

To clarify “combined causation” and “multiple causation” (aka multifactorial etiology, the study of causation), hopefully an example in medicine would clarify these concepts that a given health state or health related process may have more than one cause. A combination of causes is required to produce the health outcome.

By the same token, the multiplicity of cause, not the combination, of war, violence, and persecution most likely have produced the mass exodus of the entire population of Artsakh. There is a difference between combined cause and multiple cause. While combined cause occurs when several factors are mixed to work together to produce a result. Multiple causes is the condition when separate and identifiable elements or factors work together toward an end. Therefore, Azerbaijan is guilty of waging war on the peace-loving people of Artsakh and of terrifying them of what might happen to them if they  stayed in their homes because of Azerbaijan’s resort to violence and persecution to subjugate the dissenters.

Furthermore, the ill-intent of Azerbaijan had already become public. It was clear Azerbaijan laid a starvation siege on the enclave on Dec. 12, 2022, thus preventing the flow of food, medicine, fuel, and other essentials and necessities for nearly 10 months. In this way, Azerbaijan weaponized the siege of starvation to frighten and break down the will of the people to stay in their homes.

The main factors, the causes, leading to forced displacement are often complex and multifaceted. Understanding the causes is important for formulating effective solutions to mitigate the effect, if possible, on the affected population.

Let me cite additional reasons for the inclusion of the phrase “war, violence, and persecution” both in the form letter as well as in the Ethnic-Cleansing Genocide model in which the three causes are listed to show that the Armenian refugees of Artsakh had, in fact, the three distinct and discreet reasons to flee their homes in a mass exodus.

WAR. When a sworn enemy conducts a surprise attack on one’s country as Azerbaijan did on Sept. 19 and 20, 2023 and aims artillery strikes indiscriminately at the population of Artsakh, naturally people are terrified and want to flee their homes.

Since the Artsakh Defense Forces were outnumbered, outgunned, they had to surrender the next day to stop the barrage of missiles falling on civilians. For dear life, the people would flee their homes to seek safety and not become war casualty. As the result of the attack, 200 people were killed and 400 were wounded. But the people of Artsakh had more reasons than war to flee their homes, such as violence and persecution.

Another source of fear was materialized when the Russian so-called peace keeping force proved to be derelict. Instead of stopping Azerbaijan’s illegal blockade of the Berdzor (Lachin) Corridor, they stood by as spectators as though cheering the Azerbaijani inhumane act to starve the Armenians of Artsakh into submission.

PM Vladimir Putin shirked his duty to make Azerbaijan uphold the terms of the peace agreement signed on Nov. 9, 2020. Putin was diabolically irresponsible in this case. The feeling of being left without any help from an “ally and partner” struck fear in the hearts and minds of the Artsakh natives for being left in the lurch to face the genocidal wolf, aka, also well known as Azerbaijan.

VIOLENCE. The Azerbaijani forces have a long record of violence in and out of the battlefield. Examples are grotesque, such as axing an Armenian officer in his sleep at a NATO training camp in Budapest in 2004, beheading POWs while alive, cutting the ears and noses of civilians in 2016 (Four-Day War) attack on Artsakh and Republic of Armenia, and group executions of Armenian POWS. In 2022, Azeri soldiers raped, mutilated Armenian female soldiers, degrading the female dignity around the world, and so on and so forth –the list of heinous acts of violence is long and varied.

The preceding acts of violence would terrify anyone from being captured by Azeri soldiers. Social media have many videos of the atrocities and violence mentioned above. The fear of violence would make any normal person flee for shelter. Armenians have been conditioned to fear the cruel treatment of the Ottoman Turks by remembering the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923, and the various massacres and pogroms perpetrated by Azerbaijan in the 1980s.  Besides, many international genocide watch organizations have warned the world of the looming massacres of Armenians by genocidal Azerbaijan, causing fear and anxiety in the natives of Artsakh. During a two-and-a-half-hour national TV interview, President Ilham Aliyev admitted his intent of genocide of the people of whom 200 had already been killed and 400 wounded. He wanted to terrorize Armenians into fleeing their homeland when he said: -“Had they [Artsakh Armenians] not surrendered, they would have been eliminated. There was no other option.” Aliyev’s act is genocide no matter how many Armenians were killed 200 or 120,000 by Azerbaijan.

PERSECUTION. Persecution, hostility, and ill-treatment by Azeri regime, especially on the basis of ethnicity, religion, and political beliefs, drove Artsakh natives to become independent of Azerbaijan in 1988.

Azerbaijan discriminates against other groups, such as the Lezgins, the Avars, the Talish and others. Some of them rebelled against the Azeri regime. Some of the  Lezgin freedom movement leaders were assassinated in Baku in the 1990s. The Talish people declared independence in 1991, but within three months their Republic of Talyshstan was brutally crushed.

In the above three cases, fear was the most prevalent factor. The psychology of love, hate, fear, etc. suggests that these emotions are very strong stimuli, or drivers to action. The population of Artsakh was overwhelmed with fear of war, violence, and persecution perpetrated by the wanton Azerbaijani army.

Additionally, the fear intensified when the Russian peacekeepers turned out to be sterile puppets. As a result, the natives of Artsakh reacted timely and left their homes to seek shelter elsewhere before Azerbaijani soldiers massacred them.

According to UNCHR, “A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group”. The agency further states that “Most likely, they [refugees] cannot return home or are afraid to do so,” which is the case now with the Artsakh refugees.

At the end of 2022, over 108 million people were displaced worldwide. This number reached the 100 million marks due to the war between Russia and Ukraine making the highest number ever reached. The EU, not the U.S is the leading international doner in situations of forced displacement of refugees.

Now we have to add to the 108 million, the 120,000 refugees from the Republic of Artsakh with their hearts heavy with hope and fear. There are more people driven to become refugees in the “civilized” world of 21st century than the number of refugees during any year in the entire medieval period in Europe, which lasted from approximately AD 500 to 1500. But the good news is that most refugees and displaced persons return to their communities when peace and stability return in their region.

In view of the objective argument presented above, the three causes of war, violence, and persecution apply to the entire population of Artsakh. Armenian writers, journalists, lawyers, politicians, publishers, teachers, scholars, cartoonists, etc. should subscribe to the fact that Azerbaijan is guilty on three counts:  1. It has been inhumane in waging war 2. Barbaric in violence 3.  Cruel in persecution of the indigenous people of Artsakh. These three causes or factors instill fear of dying in the hands of your cruel enemy.

Armenian refugees need global solidarity, which requires international cooperation, a shared responsibility to protect and support them, to stand for Artsakh to exist, make repatriation safe, and collectively condemn Azerbaijan’s inhumanity against the human race. And most importantly, recognize the ECG (Ethnic-cleansing Genocide) of the Artsakh people.

Let us not forget, the eventual effect of consistency and repetition like the dropping of water in the same place would sooner or later make a hole in the rock below. By the same token, let us remain persistent in claiming rightfully that the population of Artsakh had to flee their homes en masse on account of war, violence, and persecution patently perpetrated by Azerbaijan — not only on Sept. 19 and 20, 2023, but throughout its illegal rule over Artsakh.

Refugee Registration and Identification Report (A sample) 

March 6, 2024
1310 L. St. NW, Suite 450
Washington, D.C., 20005

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am sending you the following brief report about my situation of becoming a refugee on September 28, 2023, by fleeing from our homeland Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), an ethnic Armenian enclave in present-day Azerbaijan.

Name: For example -Artur and Anni Hayrapetyan, daugher Lilit, and son Kegham
Reason Left Homeland: to escape war, violence, and persecution by the armed forces of Azerbaijan.
Former Address: 18 Freedom Avenue, Stepanakert, Artsakh 10005
Temporary Address: 240 N. Abovian Street, Yerevan, Armenia 00005
Contact information: See address above; Cell (949) 923-8899; email …

I would appreciate receiving from you directions as what to do next and any form(s) I need to fill out for formal registration and identification.


Sign your name here

P.S. If you want you can send your introductory letter to Amnesty International Headquarters:

Office at the United Nations, New York ∇ Amnesty International Tel: +1 212 867 8878 United Nations Office Fax: +1 212 370 0183 777 United Nations Plaza, fourth floor E-mail: AIUN @ AI-UN-NY New York, NY 10

Credit: Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty Images

A woman cries after crossing the border near Kornidzor to safety in Republic of Armenia on Sept. 27. This Artsakhtsi heartbroken and tearful native is expressing her deep sadness for fleeing her country because of the well-founded fears of Azerbaijan waging wanton wars, repelling violence, and inhumane persecutions as the overlord of her beloved homeland. She is the epitome of her people’s pain and suffering. I have to stop here, because this picture portrays more than I can describe one’s emotions for being forced to abandon his or her homeland. Even volumes cannot capture her sorrow. The people of Republic of Armenia, Artsakh, and the Diaspora should hand in hand try to make it possible for this bereaving lady to look homeward again.




Prof. Z. S. Andrew Demirdjian In addition to his active academic pursuits, he has devoted his time since high school to researching ideas on how to advance Armenia. Among his published works,  he has two books on Armenian unity and hundreds of articles. Since just July 2019, over 105 articles have been published on Armenian affairs. To access his previous articles open the search engine of the website and type his name.


1 comment
  1. Hello. Please provide the correct email address to which I can send the petition. The email address you provided, AN@AI-IN-NY, does not exist.

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