In the midst of a blockade, the Center for Truth and Justice established an educational partnership between the University of Iowa and the Artsakh State University, Asbarez reports.
CFTJ announced the realization of this collaboration — a direct outcome of the international human rights conference organized by CFTJ held in Yerevan, Armenia. It was back in June of 2022, while being in Armenia, that the honorable guest speaker, Professor Elke Heckner, expressed the intent to establish a partnership between the University of Iowa and Artsakh State University. Through the efforts of Associate Provost and Dean of International Programs Russ Ganim, Professor Heckner, and CFTJ Conference committee member Arsiné Grigoryan, Esq., a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the above two universities.
“The University of Iowa is proud to collaborate with Artsakh State University under the auspices of this new Memorandum of Understanding,” remarked Dean Ganim. “Our purpose is to connect faculty and students on issues regarding human rights and social justice in conflict zones around the world. We look forward to learning about and from Artsakh as the partnership grows.”
The timing of this historic event is even more impactful since Artsakh is in the midst of a blockade by Azerbaijan. On December 12, 2022, Azerbaijan blocked the only highway, referred to as the Lachin Corridor, connecting Stepanakert to Yerevan, and essentially to the rest of the world. For over 70 days now, 120,000 residents, including 30,000 children are deprived of food, medicine and other basic supplies they are in dire need of. Hospitals have indefinitely put surgeries on hold. Schools have been closed due to the shortages. Additionally, vital services like electricity, gas, and internet shut offs during the freezing winter temperatures have created more hardships for these residents.
“For the Artsakh State University, this extraordinary collaboration is immeasurably important, with such prestigious universities like the University of Iowa, especially in these trying times that Artsakh is in a total blockade and such collaborations open a window of opportunity to the civil world,” said Vitya Yaramishyan, Vice-rector of Artsakh State University as he signed the MOU.
“This partnership between two institutions will undoubtedly bring about significant progress in the promotion and protection of human rights in Artsakh and beyond,” stated Grigoryan.
CFTJ is a US-based non-profit organization formed in November 2020 immediately following the 44-Day War in Artsakh. CFTJ is not affiliated with any political or governmental organization and is entirely independent. CFTJ’s team of attorneys built a fact-finding infrastructure in Armenia and Artsakh, to gather testimonial evidence from victims of war-related human rights and humanitarian abuses. CFTJ has collected more than 400 testimonies from witnesses including returned POWs, displaced individuals, and victims of prohibited methods of warfare. CFTJ’s mission is to create a living memorial to crimes against humanity, for purposes of education and legal action.