Preventing a second Armenian Genocide: Ruben Vardanyan participated in the Columbia University online discussion
Ruben Vardanyan, State Minister of the Republic of Artsakh, participated in the online webinar, organized by the Peacebuilding and Human Rights Institute at Columbia University, USA, and entitled "Preventing a Second Armenian Genocide: Azerbaijan closes the Lachin Corridor and makes Artsakh unlivable in a bid to depopulate the territory."
Van Krikorian, Co-Chairman of the Armenian Assembly of America and Senator Chris Van Hollen, member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also participated in the discussion held on February 1, in the evening. Director of the Program on Peacebuilding and Human Rights David Phillips moderated the event.
Opening the discussion, David Phillips noted that the goal is to present the most difficult situation created in Artsakh due to the blockade. "Azerbaijan blockades the Lachin Corridor as we meet today; the corridor connects Artsakh to Armenia. The blockade is a flagrant violation of ceasefire terms and a violation of international humanitarian law. Azerbaijan disrupts access to essential goods and services, including food, fuel and medication for 120,000 Armenians in Artsakh. These actions constitute a second Armenian Genocide; thus, the name of our panel."
Senator Chris Van Hollen noted in his speech that we are witnessing another episode of Azerbaijan's aggressive policy toward Nagorno-Karabakh. "Azerbaijan has launched another campaign of aggression against the people of Artsakh for over fifty days now. Azerbaijan has imposed a blockade on the region, cutting people off from deliveries of food, medicine and other daily necessities. Among those stranded are 30,000 Armenian children, 20,000 Armenian elderly and 9,000 Armenians with disabilities. We are witnessing a rising humanitarian crisis, and we cannot remain silent in the face of these malign actions," he said.
Welcoming the initiative, Ruben Vardanyan thanked the speakers for organizing the event and supporting Artsakh. He stressed the importance of keeping Artsakh in the centre of attention of the world community. "We are grateful to all the people who supported us during these days. I want to say that it is very important for all of us in Artsakh to feel that we are not alone."
The State Minister of Artsakh said that the problem is not only in the conflict between Artsakh and Azerbaijan, the problem is about our right to live in our homeland. "We have said that we are ready for negotiations, and discussions, we are ready for peace, but it must be respected by all parties. We can live side by side, but never within one state, which is absolutely unacceptable for President Aliyev, who openly declares that he prefers Artsakh without Armenians, if Armenians do not want to live under the laws of Azerbaijan. This is a serious challenge for the right of nations to self-determination and other democratic principles, said Ruben Vardanyan. - International actors should express a clear position at the state level. This is not only a legal issue, but a gross violation of human rights, which is unacceptable by any standards. That is why it is essential to put pressure on Azerbaijan to show that this is unacceptable. It is also significant to establish potential sanctions against parties, and persons, who violate rights because they disrupt the normal living conditions of people. I think it is substantial to raise the issue of access of the air corridor to deliver humanitarian aid to Artsakh and not be dependent on the road.
Van Krikorian emphasized that the statements of high-ranking officials of Azerbaijan evidence that Azerbaijan is trying to expel the people of Armenia and Artsakh from their homeland. "These "eco-protesters" are not eco-protesters, but security service employees and related to the Aliyev clan in various ways; they have official capacities." Krikorian noted that the presidents of Azerbaijan and Turkey are preparing their people for more war. "Artsakh has the right of defending itself, and I hope that is something the United States and other countries would defend."
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