Approximately 100,000 ethnic Armenians have fled their indigenous lands in Nagorno-Karabakh for the safety of neighboring Armenia. This represents more than 80 percent of the territory’s population prior to Sept. 19, 2023. Those of Armenian ancestry had little choice but to leave Nagorno-Karabakh after desperately surviving a 10-month blockade that risked the catastrophe of mass starvation. They are arriving in Armenia “severely malnourished,” in the words of USAID Administrator Samantha Power, shell-shocked and disoriented after journeys of up to 30 hours on a road that should take only two hours.
There is presently little communication coming out of Nagorno-Karabakh. Yet, unfortunately as a result of some information emerging, there is palpable fear that the present circumstances may have resulted in the deaths of 1,000 ethnic Armenian civilians. There are also disturbing claims that retribution may be taken against public leaders and media figures still remaining in Nagorno-Karabakh. While these reports cannot presently be confirmed, what is known is that the brutal tactics that led to such a mass exodus in the matter of a few days are clearly violations of international law.
The Loyola Center for the Study of Law and Genocide strongly urges that, with all deliberate haste, an international monitoring mission be sent to Nagorno-Karabakh in order to protect from any potential human rights abuses the ethnic Armenians remaining and to ensure a full and transparent investigation into any past or ongoing atrocity crimes, as well as to evaluate and document the present condition of property, including millennia-old monasteries and cemeteries, that are the cultural treasures of the ethnic Armenians who resided there for centuries.
At a minimum, the United States should support unimpeded access to Nagorno-Karabakh under a United Nations mandate to ensure humanitarian aid organizations can rapidly deliver aid and ensure free and safe movement of refugees through the Lachin Corridor, as well as publicly endorse the necessity of an independent international presence in Nagorno-Karabakh.
About the Study of Law and Genocide
The mission of LMU Loyola Law School's Center for the Study of Law and Genocide (CSLG) has been, for more than a decade, to promote the use of international law and international tribunals in order to achieve a measure of justice for the victims, survivors, and even the descendants of those who have suffered genocide and mass atrocities. Recognition, accountability, and memorializing of the horrors of the past are integral to these aspirations. The CLSG uses its platform to weigh in on world events that are of great concern to it – as well as Loyola students and other community members, supporters, and beyond – when they touch the question of genocide.
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