Christian group urges Biden to stop ‘genocide’ from developing on Russia’s doorstep

A Christian advocacy group is calling on President Biden to intervene in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to prevent a possible genocide.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought two wars over the past 30 years over Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is home to a large Armenian population in the Caucasus. Tensions between the two former Soviet neighbors have skyrocketed over the blockade of the only road providing direct access to Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia.

In a letter sent to President Biden Wednesday morning, the Philos project backed calls by the Armenian National Committee of America to demand US intervention to prevent Azerbaijan from persecuting Christians in the region amid the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan continues.

“The situation in Nagorno-Karabakh is getting worse by the day as routine shipments of basic supplies, medicines and food on which the region is totally dependent remain completely shut down, save for a handful of International Red Cross humanitarian convoys,” she said said. “Soon the situation for the 120,000 Armenians” in the region will become untenable.

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The Philos Project has called on the Biden administration to “place human rights at the heart of its foreign policy” and “catch up” on its recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman Empire and “avert a second Armenian Genocide by act decisively.”

“Although barely disguised as the work of eco-activists protesting against mining, the intent of the blockade was revealed by President Aliyev’s offer that the way out would be open to any Armenians who wished to leave,” the letter pointed out. “Ethnic cleansing…not eco-activism.”

Foreign Minister Antony Blinken, top left, speaks during a meeting with Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Jeyhun Aziz oglu Bayramov and Armenia's Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan at Blair House, Monday, July 11, 2022, in Washington.

Foreign Minister Antony Blinken, top left, speaks during a meeting with Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Aziz oglu Bayramov and Armenia’s Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan at Blair House, Monday, July 11, 2022, in Washington.
(Alex Brandon/Pool via Reuters)

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev denied that the Lachin Corridor linking Nagorno-Karabk with Armenia was facing a blockade, instead insisting officials in the region must halt a mining project that is the main reason for the traffic disruption, reported Reuters.

The Azerbaijani embassy in the US has not responded to a request from Fox News Digital pending publication.

During an Orthodox Christmas address this month, Aliyev denied the allegations, saying Azerbaijan is “a homeland for everyone who lives here, regardless of language, religion and ethnicity. Relationships of friendship and brotherhood between separated peoples and religions, based on mutual respect and trust, have been established in our country, which is characterized by a high culture of togetherness.”

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The Azerbaijani Constitution also emphasizes that the government cannot interfere in religious activities and empowers both the government and citizens to fight “religious extremism” and “radicalism”, specifically giving the government the power to dissolve religious organizations, which cause racial, national, religious or social animosity. according to a 2022 US State Department report.

Russia has said it “continues to work arduously and difficultly with Armenia and Azerbaijan” to resolve the dispute and blockade, but European officials have criticized Moscow for a general passivity on the issue that has allowed it to move forward until this point develop point.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday urged the president of Azerbaijan to redouble efforts to secure a peace deal with Armenia, but human rights groups have begun urging Biden to do more.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (centre), Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev (left) and Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan attend a press conference after their meeting to discuss the implementation of the Dec. 9, in Moscow on Jan. 11.12.2021.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (centre), Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev (left) and Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan attend a press conference after their meeting to discuss the implementation of the Dec. 9, in Moscow on Jan. 11.12.2021.
(Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via Reuters)

“Azerbaijan is taking advantage of a distracted Russia to expel the remaining Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh,” Sam Brownback, former US Ambassador for International Religious Freedom, told Fox News Digital. “This blockade is intended to make Nagorno-Karabakh uninhabitable for this old, mostly Christian population.”

“The United States, Europe and the rest of the world cannot allow this to happen,” he added. “The blockade must be ended quickly and must not be repeated.”

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The Armenian National Committee of America published on its website the 14 risk factors for genocide tracked by the United Nations and now present in the region. The group accused the government of Azerbaijan of promoting official hatred and impunity for atrocities against Armenians in the region.

Estonian MEP Marina Kaljurand urged Azerbaijan not to use “high-level inflammatory rhetoric” either, which contributes to discrimination against Armenians, and the European Parliament has urged the Azerbaijani government to lift the blockade, but so far there has been no sign of it a change, according to Open Democracy.

A view shows the village of Taghavard in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, Jan. 16, 2021.

A view shows the village of Taghavard in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, Jan. 16, 2021.
(Reuters/Artem Mikryukov/File Photo)

Bashir Kitachayev, an Azerbaijani independent journalist specializing in the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict, wrote that any Armenian in the region who would accept Azerbaijani citizenship would face “rampant anti-Armenian sentiment or Armenophobia, fomented by the state will”.

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“The country must take real steps towards democracy and reject a national-patriotic identity based on hatred of Armenians,” Kitachayev wrote, criticizing the government for “exacerbating a humanitarian crisis… when it could create conditions for peace.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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