June 13, 2023 

Religious Persecution and Ongoing Ethnic Clensing in Artsakh June 2023

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January 22, 2023

120,000 Christians Including 30,000 Children are Under Siege

Help stop genocide, ethnic cleansing and starvation

Since December 12, 2022, Azerbaijan has blockaded the only land corridor connecting 120,000 indigenous Christian Armenians in the landlocked autonomous region of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh in Armenian) to Armenia. This siege continues decades of  cruel tactics to advance the ethnic cleansing of the remaining Armenian population on the land.

  • Food, medicine, reproductive healthcare products, baby formula and other critical essentials are dwindling; heating gas, electricity, telephone communications and internet connections are frequently shut off as another form of Azerbaijan’s provocation of the Armenian Christians who have lived in Artsakh for more than two thousand years. 
  • The ongoing blockade impacts religious freedoms in several ways, including violating the right to a pilgrimage. 
  • In September 2020, Azerbaijan launched an unprovoked, 44-day war against Artsakh.
  • The lopsided war had Azerbaijan–with technologically-advanced military weapons and radical Islamist mercenaries (paid and transported to Artsakh by NATO-member Turkey)–against a civilian population with a small army. 
  • On November 9, 2020, Russia intervened, forcing a ceasefire statement.
  • Azerbaijan now controls much of the historic Artsakh territories, while a “Russian peacekeeping” contingent attempts to maintain stability, but that has not completely stopped Azerbaijan from further acts of violence.
  • Azerbaijan has made its goals clear: ethnically cleanse the land of all traces of Christian Armenians who have lived there for millennia and assume full control of Artsakh.
  • Azerbaijan is systematically eradicating traces of Armenian religious and cultural heritage sites to claim the land. This cultural genocide involves the outright destruction and false reclassification of Christian churches, monasteries, and carved cross-stones (khatchkars), which are listed on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

© 2008, H.L Petrosyan

  • Once destroyed, the Christian religious and Armenian cultural heritage is irreplaceable.

Photos from BBC footage

  • In territories controlled by Azerbaijan, Armenian Christian worshippers cannot access churches for prayer or pilgrimages. The clergy who have remained to safeguard the ancient churches and monasteries are surrounded by Azerbaijani forces who continue to isolate, intimidate, and harass them.  The religious rights of Armenian POWs, whom Azerbaijani still illegally holds, are being violated on a daily basis: the baptismal pendant crosses of the POWs have been confiscated and desecrated; there are reports of forced conversions, and priests are not allowed to visit the POWs.  
  • The 120,000 Artsakh residents are subjugated to psychological threats to force their departure from their ancestral lands. Azerbaijan broadcasts intimidating messages to the villagers by loudspeaker and regularly disrupts their heating gas supply, to further distress the daily lives of the Armenians.  

Help press Azerbaijan for an immediate, unconditional lifting of the Lachin corridor blockade to allow for land and air humanitarian assistance.

Learn more about the siege of Artsakh Read about the destruction of cultural heritage and religious freedom Write to USAID 

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