‘Very troubling reports of violence against civilians’ in NK — Samantha Power, USAID

Until international observers are on the ground we will not know what is happening in NK

For nine-plus months human rights defenders have been raising concerns about the blockade — the modern day version of a “Medieval siege” — on the residents of Artsakh, the Armenian name for the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.  


But with scant mainstream media attention as Azerbaijan denied aid, energy and access into the region, the dire situation did what it only could do: escalate. That happened on Sept. 19 when Azerbaijan invaded the territory in response to what it called terrorism.  

And now we are watching the exodus of an entire ethnic group — a population of 120,000 depleted people — from the area, abandoning their current homes and ancestral homeland. Why? Because history has taught them that their lives may not be safe under Azeri rule despite promises to the contrary. (Atrocities from the 2020 war have also gone woefully underreported so in case you don’t know about this, it’s not your fault.)

“We have heard very troubling reports of violence against civilians,” USAID Administrator Samantha Power said without elaborating, during a press conference on the border where refugees are crossing into Armenia

“We need to ensure that the international community gets access into Nagorno-Karabakh,” Power continued. “There are still tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians who are there, living in very vulnerable conditions. Already you are seeing, as well the gathering of testimonies from people who have fled violence, deprivation and with the fear of living under the government of Azerbaijan.” 


With zero international observers on the ground there, little is known or can be verified about what has taken place since the invasion. While the Azeris say they targeted only military installations, Armenian residents, now able to get the word outside of Nagorno-Karabakh, say that civilians were fired on and many killed. 


In an interview with BBC, one mother tells how two of her sons were killed in a bombing while she was out trying to buy baby formula. Videos emerging from the sealed-off enclave showed Armenians burying loved ones in dozens of roadside graves, injured in hospitals and residential buildings destroyed.


U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff called it “ethnic cleansing” — a term not all politicians have been willing to use. 


“Amid Azerbaijan’s horrific aggression against Artsakh & Armenia, and the ethnic cleansing taking place, I’m introducing another resolution that I hope will lead to the suspension of U.S. aid to Baku,” he wrote on social media. “No matter what our diplomats say, if the money to the regime continues, so will its violence.”


Power said families have been split apart, many unaccompanied children have crossed into the Republic of Armenia alone and several individuals told her they don’t know where members of their families are.

She also announced that (rather than sanction Az) the U.S. will allocate $11.5 million dollars. That amounts to $95 per refugee. 

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