Armenian community in Rojava calls for an end to Nagorno-Karabakh siege

The Armenian community in Rojava has called on the West to act against the siege of Nagorno-Karabakh. Since mid-December, the population there has been cut off from the outside world due to an Azerbaijani blockade.

The Armenian community in the autonomous region of North and East Syria has called on the international community to act against the siege of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh). The Azerbaijani blockade of the region is threatening a humanitarian catastrophe there, the Armenian Society Council and the Women’s Council of Armenians in Rojava said at a rally in front of the UN mission in Qamishlo, adding that immediate action is long overdue. “The world must not allow another genocide against our people. Act humanely and with values in mind, and work for the release of the lifeline of Nagorno-Karabakh.”

The lifeline refers to the Lachin corridor, the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia. Since mid-December, Azerbaijan has blocked this artery. 120,000 people, including 30,000 children, have been cut off from the rest of the world and thus from any supply. Previously, Armenia delivered 400 tons of food to the region every day. But under the blockade, both the import of food and medicine and the transport, for example, of sick people out of Nagorno-Karabakh are impossible.

“This policy of starvation and siege with the aim of a complete occupation of Armenian Karabakh has already claimed its first fatalities,” said a joint statement by Armenian associations read out by Kohar Khaja Dorian for the Women’s Council and Imad Tatrian for the Societies Council. They said the blockade was in violation of international and humanitarian law and should be dealt with accordingly by the international community. “Over a hundred thousand people are trying to survive in precarious conditions in the middle of winter, without food, medical care or electricity. Geopolitical and geostrategic interests of the West must not lead to soft-pedalling on human rights.”

The Lachin corridor has been secured by Russian peacekeepers under a treaty since the supposed end of the Azerbaijani-Turkish war of aggression on Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020. Nevertheless, on 12 December, alleged “eco-activists” from Azerbaijan set up a roadblock there with the aim of stopping “illegal mining”. The aim was to demonstrate against the “exploitation of Azerbaijan’s gold and copper deposits by Armenia”, they said. The Armenian side, on the other hand, speaks of a state-coordinated action. Accordingly, the alleged eco-activists are members of the military and the secret service, and the fairy tale of environmental protection is only a pretext for a new invasion. Azerbaijan, they say, has never cared about environmental issues, and there is no such thing as a civil society in this authoritarian country.

Earlier this week, Armenia appealed to the International Court of Justice over the Nagorno-Karabakh siege to impose emergency measures against Azerbaijan and oblige it to lift the blockade. The government in Baku denies blocking the Lachin corridor to cut off supplies to the population. It accuses Armenia of transporting weapons and mines through the road, in violation of the terms of the ceasefire. A ruling by the UN court is expected in a few weeks.