BY HRANT APOVIAN
“When, in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
“To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world [for the truth of which we pledge a faith yet unsullied by falsehood].”
– Thomas Jefferson, “The Declaration of Independence”
Historically, Nagorno-Karabakh has never been part of Azerbaijan.
Nagorno-Karabakh was arbitrarily given to Azerbaijan by Stalin.
We, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, have voted for independence under Soviet rule.
Azerbaijan has organized pogroms on our people in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Azerbaijan has plundered and ravaged our villages, burnt our cities and destroyed the lives of our people.
Azerbaijan has abdicated government here by declaring us out of his protection, and waging war against us.
Azerbaijan has obstructed the administration of justice by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.
Azerbaijan has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of new officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
Azerbaijan is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbaric ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.
Azerbaijan declared war against our people, bombarded us mercilessly.
Our people rose in defiance, fought valiantly to defend their homeland and won.
Nagorno-Karabakh, better known as Artsakh for Armenians, is a beautiful and idyllic place.
Rolling hills covered with greenery. Well organized cities with democratic institutions. So peaceful, so enticing. Its people, extremely hospitable, warm, so welcoming, so nurturing. And yet, this is a nation at war with a terrorist state bent on destroying it; one that attacks daily killing civilians and soldiers with impunity, despite an existing ceasefire. Black clad mothers and widows mourn their loss and yet are proud that their loved one gave his life defending the homeland.
It is with anguish that once again, we learn of two soldiers of the N.K. defense forces killed by Azerbaijani gunfire. Mikael Arakeli Torossyan and Vahe Vartkessi Vanoyan of the village of Arevig. Two more young soldiers killed by a murderous regime inebriated with oil revenues that will stop at nothing to use its massive arsenal of firepower. And yet no nation condemns the continued killings. No nation sees the similarities between a corrupt regime like Azerbaijan and ISIS. One continues to hear of calls for the two sides to refrain from violence. Azerbaijan has no intention of adhering to a ceasefire that it agreed to. It has no intention of agreeing to a peaceful resolution to the conflict. It is bent on intimidation by murder.
It is incumbent on the United States, Russia, and France to put a leash on this monster of a nation and to condemn in the strongest terms its terrorist behavior. The valiant people of Artsakh deserve to live in peace.
It is with deep concern that we learn that members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, including Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Tadzhikistan, and Kyrgyzstan, have been arming Azerbaijan despite their pledge not to participate in actions against a member state. According to the World Arms Trade Analysis Center 2006 – 2017 report, one of Azerbaijan’s largest suppliers of arms is Belarus, it has also renovated Azerbaijan’s missile systems. Officially, Kazakhstan is not selling arms to Azerbaijan. However, a deeper inquiry has elicited that Israeli attack missile systems made in Kazakhstan under license were sold to Azerbaijan.
So far Azerbaijan’s largest supplier of arms is Russia, including heavy artillery, attack helicopters, missile systems and tanks. Officially, Yerevan does not hide its displeasure with the quantity and sophistication of arms sold to Azerbaijan by Russia, but is confident that Armenia is capable of countering any large scale attack and hopes that Russia will abide by its obligations as a strategic partner when needed. It is an unfortunate but blatant fact that Armenian soldiers are being killed by Russian arms.
Israel, the so called champion of the war on terror, continues to supply sophisticated arms to Azerbaijan in return for oil. High level Israeli politicians are cultivating a special relationship with the Aliyev Dynasty.
It is with deep disappointment that we find out after the fact that the Special Committee for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, adopted a report prepared by British E.P. member Robert Walter, entitled “The Escalation in Violence in Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijani Occupied Territories.”
This is a serious development not only because it is biased in favor of Azerbaijan, but since it also interferes with mediation efforts by the O.S.C.E., is a flagrant example of the failure of Armenian diplomacy, and affirms Azerbaijan’s successful reach within European parliamentary circles thanks to its caviar diplomacy.
Armenian authorities have not been able to garner support for Nagorno-Karabakh. The fact that Azerbaijan, despite being a pariah nation, is using its vast oil resources to garner support is no excuse. Armenia should be able, along with the help of its diaspora, to counter these efforts and not to allow destructive resolutions to pass either at the UN or the E.P. to confuse and ultimately mar the issues related to the conflict.
Finally, it is with deep bewilderment and concern that once again a member of the ruling Republican Party, Levon Mardirossian, hinted at the possibility of surrendering certain liberated territories to Azerbaijan. The fact that this kind of defeatist declaration comes from a member of the Armenian president’s party is alarming. Equally alarming is a report by a Russian newspaper that Russia is pressuring the Armenian government to make unilateral territorial concessions to Azerbaijan. The Moscow daily Kommersant said that one possible Armenian – Azerbaijani peace deal currently under discussion envisages the liberation of virtually all districts around Nagorno-Karabakh that were occupied by Armenian forces during the 1991 – 1994 war. In return it claimed, Baku would pledge not to try to reclaim Nagorno-Karabakh.
Even though senior officials in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh dismissed the report, one cannot help but wonder whether there is this kind of pressure to surrender territory without an agreement on Nagorno-Karabakh’s status. The fact that a lowly party member like Levon Mardirossian utters the word “surrender” could be a trial balloon sanctioned by the Armenian president. The people of Nagorno-Karabakh will never allow the government to unilaterally make concessions that will endanger the security and defensibility of Artsakh absent the buffer zones.
Regardless, Azerbaijan’s unabashed terrorist actions at the border absent world condemnation, irresponsible declarations by Armenian party members, Azerbaijan’s massive arms buildup and resolutions based on biased special reports, will aggravate the situation and embolden Azerbaijan to be more bellicose and unyielding.
The blue skies above Artsakh and its beautiful people are marred by dark clouds and a despotic ruler like Ilham Aliyev at the borders. He is personally responsible for each and every soldier sacrificed in defense of freedom. He deserves to be indicted as a war criminal.
It is time for the “Land of the Free” to recognize the legitimate aspirations of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. There is an urgent need for U.S. intervention to stop the bloodshed.