For two months now, Azerbaijan, resorting to criminal and terroristic actions, has been keeping around 120,000 people of the Republic of Artsakh under blockade, aiming at carrying out ethnic cleansing in Artsakh, Artsakh’s President Arayik Harutunyan said in a statement.
“This illegal blockade contradicts all the norms of international law and the obligations assumed by Azerbaijan, including those within the framework of the tripartite statement of November 9, 2020,” he stressed.
“The blockade, based on the Azerbaijani state policy of racial hatred against Armenians, is all-encompassing: it deprives 120,000 citizens of Artsakh of natural access to food, energy, healthcare and other vital goods and services, and is, therefore, a serious, deliberate and massive attack on the right to life and other rights of our compatriots,” the President said.
“Since January 20, in order to solve the acute food shortage caused by the blockade, the Artsakh government has been forced to restrict access to food by introducing rationing: one kilogram of rice, buckwheat, pasta, sugar and vegetable oil per person per month, the scope of which will be increased in the near future,” he continued.
“Azerbaijan exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in Artsakh by disrupting the electricity and gas supplies in harsh winter conditions. Due to problems with heating and food, all kindergartens, primary and secondary schools in the country have been closed, depriving about 20,000 children and adolescents of the country of the opportunity to receive education. The work of many economic enterprises has also been suspended, leaving thousands of citizens unemployed. The construction of about 3,700 apartments and houses intended for people forcibly displaced from the territories occupied by Azerbaijan, as well as other construction works, have been halted. Scheduled surgeries in medical institutions have been cancelled, jeopardizing the health and lives of around 600 citizens,” Arayuk Harutyunyan said.
He expressed gratitude to the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Russian peacekeeping mission for their efforts to ensure the transfer of about 90 persons in critical health conditions to Armenia, to reunite dozens of separated families and to transport the minimum amount of food to Artsakh that allows us to prevent famine in the country. However, the President said, the situation remains unbearable amid severe shortage of food, medicine and other essentials, continuous disruption of gas and electricity supplies, separation of thousands of families, collapse of the economy and other crisis conditions.
“We welcome the clear appeals of the executive and legislative authorities of many countries, as well as international organizations, to Azerbaijan to immediately and unconditionally lift the blockade. Those demands and positions, however, are ineffective in the conditions of Azerbaijan’s fanatical and hateful intransigence. This is why the international community must act, as it has done in other regions when there are early warning signs of genocide,” President Harutyunyan said.
“We appeal primarily to Russia, the USA and France, which co-chair the OSCE Minsk Group, as well as to all members of the international community, to jointly or individually take effective measures to open Artsakh’s road of life and prevent new crimes. In that context, we urge them to impose sanctions against all perpetrators and supporters of crimes against the people of Artsakh, and the state of Azerbaijan, among other sanctions, by banning them from entering their own territories and freezing their movable and immovable properties in their countries,” he continued.
“Azerbaijan’s attempted ethnic cleansing of the people of Artsakh complies with the legal concept of crimes against humanity (erga omnes). Its prevention is a moral, legal and political obligation binding on all signatories of the United Nations Charter. Therefore, it is the duty of every member of the international community to do their best to protect the people of Artsakh and their dignified life in their own homeland,” he concluded.