South Australia MP Irene Pnevmatikos rises in Parliament to condemn Azerbaijan’s blockade of Artsakh

The Hon. Irene Pnevmatikos has risen in the South Australian Parliament Upper House in support of the people of Artsakh condemning Azerbaijan’s ongoing illegal blockade against the Republic of Artsakh, reported the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU).

Following meetings with the ANC-AU, the South Australian MP, who is also a member of the Australian Friends of Artsakh network, delivered a powerful statement on Wednesday, 22nd February 2023.

Pnevmatikos, who championed a motion in February 2021 which saw the South Australian Legislative Council recognise the Republic of Artsakh, said, “On 12 December last year, a group of so-called ecoactivists blocked the Lachin corridor. This is the only land route that links Artsakh to Armenia and to the outside world and is a lifeline for the people of Artsakh.”

Pnevmatikos asserted that the protesters are “widely recognised to be Azerbaijani military forces masquerading as ecoactivists” and called the Azerbaijan regime’s claims “dubious”.

The Labor MLC highlighted the widespread international condemnation of Azerbaijan and the severe humanitarian crisis evolving as a result of this two-month-long blockade.

“Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the USA, Canada, the EU and France have all condemned this brutal and illegal blockade and have called on Azerbaijan to restore freedom of movement and goods along the corridor forthwith.”

“The blockade has triggered a severe humanitarian crisis. Grocery stores are empty, with even the most basic of materials becoming unavailable. Hospitals are turning patients away due to a lack of medical supplies. Natural gas pipelines, electricity and internet services that run through the blockaded Lachin corridor have been cut off by Azerbaijan during a brutal winter in an attempt to suffocate the population.”

Pnevmatikos later went on to condemn the inaction of Russian peacekeepers and Azerbaijan’s illegal blockade.

“As agreed to in a ceasefire agreement after the conflict in 2020, the Lachin corridor is controlled by a Russian peacekeeping force. This peacekeeping force has failed to disperse Azerbaijani military personnel. This parliament has a longstanding commitment to supporting the Armenian people, who have suffered for too long at the hands of greater powers in the region. I condemn the inaction of the Russian peacekeeping forces, Azerbaijan’s ongoing aggression and all forces that allow this illegal blockade to continue.”

The Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU) commended the lawmaker’s address and thanked Irene Pnevmatikos for her statement in Parliament.

“We thank Ms Pnevamitkos for her principled stance in support of Armenian-Australians and taking Azerbaijan’s blockade to the floor of parliament,” said ANC-AU Executive Director Michael Kolokossian.

“This matter is becoming a dominant topic in Parliament’s across Australia. We trust that Ms Pnevmatikos’ calls will reach the offices of legislators across Australia, including the Foreign Minister of Australia,” added Kolokossian.

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