Time in Yerevan: 11:07,   18 April 2024

Azerbaijan tried to rewrite history of Nagorno Karabakh and is exacerbating a humanitarian crisis-Azerbaijani journalist

Azerbaijan tried to rewrite history of Nagorno Karabakh and is exacerbating a 
humanitarian crisis-Azerbaijani journalist

YEREVAN, JANUARY 31, ARMENPRESS. Azerbaijani journalist Bashir Kitachayev wrote an article for openDemocracy on Azerbaijan’s blockade of Lachin Corridor and the resulting humanitarian crisis, the anti-Armenian atmosphere generated in Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan’s efforts to falsify history of Nagorno Karabakh.

 “The blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh by Azerbaijani protesters claiming to be environmental activists has entered its second month, sparking a humanitarian crisis in the disputed territory and condemnation from the international community.

The Lachin corridor, the only road that links Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh (or simply Karabakh), an ethnically Armenian region of about 120,000 people within the Karabakh mountain range in Azerbaijan, has been blocked since mid-December.

Last week, the European Parliament called on the Azerbaijani government in Baku to lift the roadblock, but so far there has been no sign of any change.

The protesters claim illegal mining is taking place on territory controlled by the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and demand that Azerbaijani specialists are allowed to monitor any mining operations. They have a well-equipped tent camp and are allowing only Russian peacekeepers and the International Committee of the Red Cross to travel on the Lachin corridor.

Civil servants, disguised military personnel and members of pro-government NGOs and youth organisations are reported to be among the so-called ‘eco-activists’, none of whom appear to have taken part in previous environmental protests in Azerbaijan. Journalists from state publications are also there to cover the roadblock.

The interruption of food and medical supplies to Karabakh has caused a humanitarian crisis. Supplies of fruits and vegetables are dwindling, stocks of baby formula have reportedly run out, and the area’s de facto authorities have issued food coupons and are rationing certain staples, such as oil, pasta, rice, sugar and buckwheat. Karabakh has also suffered interruptions in its electricity and gas supply, which passes through territory controlled by Azerbaijan.

Russian peacekeepers have been criticised by the international community for their passivity over the blockade, with a European Parliament resolution on 19 January demanding action. Peacekeepers have been stationed in the region since the end of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War in 2020 and are meant to guarantee access to the road.

The EU resolution also condemned Azerbaijan. The day before it was adopted by the bloc’s Parliament, Estonian MEP Marina Kaljurand urged Azerbaijan to refrain from using “high-level inflammatory rhetoric” to discriminate against Armenians.

Kaljurand was referring to a recent ultimatum by Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev, who suggested Karabakh Armenians should either get an Azerbaijani passport or leave.

In a television interview on 10 January, Aliyev said: “Conditions will be created for those who want to live [in Nagorno-Karabakh] under the flag of Azerbaijan. Like the citizens of Azerbaijan, their rights and security will be ensured.

“For whoever does not want to become our citizen, the road is not closed, but open. They can leave. They can go on their own, or they can ride with [Russian] peacekeepers, or they can go by bus. The road [to Armenia] is open.”

Aliyev’s statement seemingly admits that Azerbaijan controls the blockade and that at least one of its goals is to take command of Karabakh, despite the country’s authorities having denied being involved in the action, which they say is a “civil society protest,” the author said in the article.

As to why the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh prefer to remain citizens of a small unrecognized state surrounded by a hostile army, the author said, “Any Karabakh Armenians who took Azerbaijani citizenship would face rampant anti-Armenian sentiment, or Armenophobia, fuelled by the state.”

“…Azerbaijan has also tried to rewrite the history of Nagorno-Karabakh, presenting Armenians, who have lived in the region since the sixth century BC, as newcomers,” Bashir Kitachayev noted. He says that “Armenians are always mentioned negatively in the Azerbaijani media and are presented as vile historical enemies”.

“Azerbaijan also denies the presence of any Armenian cultural heritage in the territory. Armenian Churches and other religious and cultural objects have been declared by the authorities to belong to ‘Caucasian Albania’, which existed in ancient times in what is now modern Azerbaijan. Historical Armenian monuments are also periodically destroyed. The large Armenian cemetery of Julfa, on the border between modern-day Azerbaijan and Iran, was obliterated in 2005. Hundreds of khachkars (tombstones) dating from the ninth to the 17th centuries were dug up and thrown in the river.

Baku’s assurances of security guarantees are also hard to believe, given Azerbaijan did not investigate the brutal killings of Armenian civilians and captured soldiers during the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War and subsequent clashes.

And in 2012, Azerbaijani army officer Ramil Safarov was given a hero’s welcome when he returned home after beheading Armenian soldier Gurgen Margaryan with an axe at a NATO training seminar in Hungary eight years earlier. Safarov, who said he killed Margaryan out of ethnic hatred, was handed a life sentence in Budapest but extradited to Azerbaijan, where he was promptly released and pardoned,” the author further noted.

“…But the country must take real steps towards democracy and reject a national-patriotic identity based on hatred of Armenians. Azerbaijan is exacerbating a humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh, when it could be creating conditions for peace between the two countries,” wrote Bashir Kitachayev.


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