The people of Nagorno-Karabakh have the right to live freely and independently, Member of the UK House of Commons Jessica Morden said at the debate on “Closure of the Lachin Corridor and the humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.”
She condemned the blockade by Azerbaijan and asked the UK Government to do all they can to help with their diplomatic levers.
“The current blockade of the corridor—the only passage between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia—by Azerbaijan from 12 December has severed the only lifeline that the Artsakh Armenians have to the outside world. That is 120,000 Armenians now encircled and isolated. It is claimed that the road blockade has been initiated by environmental activists, but most feel that its intended effect is to isolate the population from Armenia,” the MP said.
She noted that the blockade is an escalation of the cutting off of the gas supply during a freezing winter last year—a move that was repeated last month and will impact on some 80% of the population whose homes are supplied with gas. “That is in the depths of winter, with temperatures dropping below minus 5° yesterday. Schools and nurseries have been forced to close and hospitals are struggling to operate,” she said.
“The blockade has left families separated and most patients unable to travel for treatment in Yerevan. There is a shortage of medical supplies and no hot running water. As UNICEF has highlighted, children in the region are especially impacted, with parental separation and a lack of access to vital services. All this comes after 30 years in which the Lachin corridor has been open and functioning despite bitter tensions—but not now. The timing of the power blackouts, coupled with the blockade, feels designed to cause the greatest amount of human suffering possible during the winter months, to force a desired political outcome,” Jessica Morden said
“I am keen to hear from the Minister what role the Government will play by joining other countries in their condemnation. Of course, it is important that the persecution and terrorization of the Armenian Christian population is met with united international condemnation, but it is also important that the UK Government use their leverage as a close diplomatic trading partner of Azerbaijan,” she stressed.
“I am keen to hear about the release of Armenian prisoners of war and civilian hostages, and the Government’s view on that. Also, it would be good to know what discussions the Government have had about working with other countries on the logistics of an airlift and whether the Government are supportive of the EU’s joint motion on the blockade, which was made last Wednesday, and to understand the Government’s position in respect of the Caucasus,” she added.
Jessica Morden said said it was a real privilege to be part of the delegation to Armenia last year. “Coming from Wales, it is hard not to feel an affinity with another small, proud and mountainous country of 3 million people. Links between Wales and Armenia are long established, and the Armenian genocide memorial at the Temple of Peace in Cardiff was the first of its kind in the UK,” she noted.
“It has been a pleasure to meet members of the Armenian community in south Wales, who feel a strong connection with their ancestral home. Speaking to Armenians and the Armenian diaspora, it is hard not to be struck by their deep longing for peace—a burning desire informed by tragic history. It is understandable, then, that the Armenian people are more alert than most to where intolerance and violence can lead unless a light is shone upon it while there is still time. This is such a moment and the international community has a duty to do all it can now to work towards peace,” the MP concluded.