Karabakh Marks 18 Years of Statehood and Democracy on Human Rights Day

A man in Karabakh walks against the backdrop of a banner that reads "constitution" in Armenian.

A man in Karabakh walks against the backdrop of a banner that reads "constitution" in Armenian.

STEPANAKERT—As the world marked the 61st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Thursday, The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic commemorated two declarations of its own, celebrating the decision of its people to declare independence in 1991 and a vote by the population in 2006 to approve a new constitution reaffirming democratic statehood.

Karabakh’s population on December 10, 1991, held a general referendum and overwhelmingly voted in support of independence from the Soviet Union. Azerbaijan, which had been given control of the indigenous Armenian region of Karabakh by Stalin responded to the pro-democracy movement with military force, declaring war on Karabakh.

In 2006, the people of Karabakh held a second referendum on December 10, internationally known as Human Rights Day, to adopt a new constitution that reaffirmed Nagorno-Karabakh as a sovereign and democratic state. 

“In the modern history of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), December 10 twice proved to be pivotal,” Karabakh’s President Bako Sahakian said in an address congratulating the nation on the “crucial holiday.”  “For us the powerful, independent, sovereign, democratic and legal state is an exclusive value that has no alternative.”

“In 1991 on this day the Artsakh Armenians expressed their unified will and confirmed the dedication of creating an independent statehood. On the same day of 2006 again through the nation-wide referendum the basic law of our state, the Constitution, was adopted, registering another great victory of our state, which succeeded in defending its independence and freedom and was firmly staying on the path of democracy,” he said.

He described December 10 as “symbolic” for the people of Karabakh, who had faced seven decades of discrimination and subjugation under Azeri rule. “December 10 is also celebrated as International Human Rights Day. This fact is symbolic for itself as the Artsakh movement, the birth and the very existence of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic are the integral parts of human rights, the reflection of the basic universal rights of equality and self-determination of nations,” Sahakian said.

But the two plebiscites, and nearly two decades of democratic development in Karabakh are largely ignored by international mediators working to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, left frozen since a Russian-brokered cease-fire in 1994 put an end to the brutal war launched by Azerbaijan in the wake of the 1991 referendum.

Ongoing peace talks, currently between Armenia and Azerbaijan, leave Karabakh out of the equation and ignore its people’s right to self-determination.  Meanwhile, mediators from the OSCE Minsk Group have said the two sides are close to an agreement on Karabakh, which will see the transfer to Azerbaijan of liberated territories vital to the survival of the fledgling republic and a referendum to determine Karabakh’s status that will follow the assisted influx of Azerbaijanis into the country.


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  1. Kisul said:

    there will be no influx of azerbaijanis. first, because they are cowards, and will demand an international gandarms, which becomes too crowded. secondly, because these will be disguised al-qaeda fighters, currently trying to hide anywhere possible. so, putin-medvedev, you better watch what you bring upon you head. these gays were killing with no human trace russians about 30-years ago. they are same dough. do not brake russian bread and salt with them.

  2. Lusik said:

    I am still wondering, why a simple Assyrian priest in Turkey can speak this language, and Armenian president (or FM) can not. Listen now the story:
    By Ramazan Yavuz, Serdar Sunar / DHA
    Following a referendum banning mosque minarets in Switzerland, three unidentified persons visited the 1,750-year-old Assyrian/Syriac Church of Virgin Mary in Diyarbakir, Turkey, and allegedly threatened the priest, Yusuf Akbulut, by saying, “Switzerland is banning minarets and we will ban bell towers to you. You will demolish the bell tower by next Friday.”
    Akbulut informed the police of the threat to demolish the bell towers. He is now receiving protection by the police, and made the following statement:
    “Last Friday, i.e. on the 4th of this month [December], my church and I were threatened. Three persons in their forties visited the church at 14:00 hours last Friday. They knocked on the door of my house inside the church and asked me to come outside. In the courtyard of the church, these three persons that I do not know asked me if the church had a bell tower. When I told them that it did, they said, “You will demolish this bell tower. Switzerland is banning minarets and we will ban bell towers to you. You will demolish this bell tower by next Friday.” When I told them that this was a historic church with an ancient bell tower and that the foundations (directorate) and the state would react, they said for the second time, “Go and complain to whoever you want. This bell tower will not remain here. We will take the necessary action,” and left. Then I filed a complaint to the police. Now the police are seeking the three persons who threatened me by checking the camera records.”
    Noting that he would not destroy the 600-year-old church bell in any way, Akbulut stated that the minaret ban in Switzerland had nothing to do with him, and added: “We, the Syriacs, have been living in these territories for 6-7,000 years. We have a deep-rooted history. Who can dare demolish this bell tower by asserting the minaret ban in Switzerland as a pretext? …”

  3. GregMelkonyan said:

    Long live free and independent Artsakh. To Azeri leadership one has to say ” AZERIS  SAY ADIOS TO KARABAGH “. ARTSAKH ( KARABAGH) is not yours any more, it is liberated and free and it is gone away from your hands for ever and ever… Long live Armenia.

  4. Pingback: About turkey, president, nagorno-karabakh, azerbaijan, armenian | Find me About

  5. Pingback: Karabakh Marks 18 Years of Statehood and Democracy on Human Rights … | armeniatoday

  6. Pingback: Karabakh Marks 18 Years of Statehood and Democracy on Human Rights … | azerbaijantoday