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Statement from a group of Genocide scholars on the Imminent Genocidal Threat deriving from Azerbaijan and Turkey against Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh)


Since September 27, 2020, Azerbaijan, backed by Turkey, initiated a large-scale, unprovoked war against the Republic of Artsakh and the Republic of Armenia. Over the last days Azerbaijani forces have intentionally been attacking civilians and civilian infrastructures, and they have heavily shelled Stepanakert, Shushi, Mardakert, Hadrut, and other settlements with cluster munitions and other weapons prohibited by international humanitarian laws.

The Shushi Holy Savior (Ghazanchetsots) Cathedral, was severely damaged after two deliberate air raids conducted by the Azerbaijani military on October 8 and 9. This is not only a violation of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two (1954 and 1999) Protocols, but also a part of policy of the cultural genocide that the Azerbaijani government has been implementing over the past 30 years by systematically destroying the Armenian historical heritage, including thousands of ancient Khachkars (carved cross stones) in the city of Djulfa (Nakhichevan). It is well established that cultural genocide is clear evidence of the existence of a special intent to commit genocide.

Furthermore, it is documented that Turkish armed forces and air forces directly participate in hostilities. Moreover, there are many impartial international media reports showing that during the current large-scale Azeri aggression against Artsakh, a substantial number of mercenaries identifying as jihadists from Syria and Libya, and likely also from Afghanistan and Pakistan, are hired and sent by Turkey to Azerbaijan to fight against Armenians . This also constitutes a violation of international law.

Direct Turkish involvement in the decades-long conflict is thus no longer a threat that Armenians in Artsakh, Armenia, and Turkey have had to fear, but a fact that threatens to annihilate Armenians in Artsakh and beyond. A recent statement issued by the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, read that they, Turkey, were going “to continue to fulfill the mission of their grandfathers, which was carried out a century ago in the Caucasus”. This constitutes a direct threat of continuing the Armenian genocide that began in 1915.

The statement does not stand alone. Turkey officially and continuously denies the Armenian genocide, but various officials, including the president, have repeatedly hinted that Turkey is ready to once more "give a lesson" to Armenians, and that the “deportation” of Armenians in 1915 was the most appropriate decision at the time . “Armenian” is a commonly-used curse word in Turkey, and “leftovers of the sword” is another derogatory term used in Turkish to refer to the survivors of the genocide, which Erdogan publicly used during a briefing in May 2020. These and many other examples all amount to tacit recognition and approval of the genocide; it is, in other words, hate speech that threatens a new genocide. The attacks against Armenian churches and other properties all around the world by the Turkish nationalists are on the rise. Lately, Armenians and other Christians in Istanbul were targeted and blamed for supposedly spreading coronavirus, and Armenians have also been harassed by pro-Azeri Turks since the beginning of the latest outbreak of war. The most high-profiled victim has been the Turkish-Armenian politician Garo Paylan from the pro-Kurdish HDP-party. And Erdogan’s government does not spare its Turkish or Kurdish intellectuals and ordinary citizens, prosecuting them for even the slightest imagined transgression.

The position of the Azerbaijani leadership and society is even more aggressive. For years, anti-Armenian discourse and propaganda have been part of official state policy. Every day, indoctrination is carried out from schools to state media that demonizes Armenians, presenting them as an absolute evil that should be deprived of the right to live in Artsakh and Armenia, including the capital Yerevan. In one of his many public speeches, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev himself spoke about a “hypocritical, global Armenian conspiracy with Western politicians, who are embroiled in corruption and bribery,” reminiscent of Adolf Hitler's "global Jewish conspiracy” thesis, reiterated many times in Nazi speeches as a pretext and justification for the Holocaust.

It is therefore not merely rhetorical when on October 3, in the early phase of the current conflict, Armenia's Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, in his address to the nation stated the following: “The objective of the Azerbaijani-Turkish bandits is not about claiming territory. Their objective is the Armenian people. Their objective is to continue their genocidal policy.” In fact, history, from the Armenian genocide to the last three decades of conflict, as well as current political statements, economic policies, sentiments of the societies and military actions by the Azerbaijani and Turkish leadership should warn us that genocide of the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, and perhaps even Armenia, is a very real possibility. All of this proves that Armenians can face slaughter if any Armenian territory is occupied, consequently recognizing of the independence of the Republic of Artsakh is the way to save Armenians of Artsakh from extermination now or in the near future.

And already a case can be made that there is conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, and attempt to commit genocide, all of which are acts that, according to article 3 of 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, all states of the world are obliged to prevent and punish.

We, as members of the academic community, demand that the international community takes direct and serious action so that the Azerbaijani aggression immediately ceases, and that anti-Armenian state propaganda and hatred in Azerbaijan and Turkey ends. We appeal to the international community to raise their voices against xenophobia, aggression, and war, and for the prevention of new genocide.

- Adam Muller, Member of the IAGS Advisory Board, Professor and Director, Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Manitoba, Canada

- Alexandra Morehead, Brown University, USA

- Alyssa Mathias, PhD Candidate, Department of Ethnomusicology, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
- Amy Fagin, Member IAGS Executive Board; Director: Beyond Genocide Centre for Prevention, New Salem, Massachusetts, USA

- Anahit Khosroeva, Institute of History, NAS, Armenia

- Andrew Woolford, Past President, International Association Genocide Scholars (IAGS), University of Manitoba, Canada

- Arda Melkonian, Fuller Theological Seminary, USA

- Aris Babikian, former Citizenship Judge, Canada

- Armen T. Marsoobian, Philosophy Professor, First Vice President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, CT, USA

- Asya Darbinyan, Visiting Research Scholar, Clark University, USA

- Bård Larsen, Civita, Oslo, Norway

- Caroline Bennett, Member of the IAGS Advisory Board, Lecturer in Cultural Anthropology, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
- Charikleia Magdalini Kefalidou, University of Caen, France

- Charles B. Strozier, The City University of New York Professor

- Darren O'Brien, University of Queensland, Australia

- Dominika Maria Macios, Polish Institute of World Art Studies, Poland

- Don Cummings, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Professional Educator, Worcester (MA) Public Schools, USA

- Doris Melkonian, Fuller Theological Seminary, USA

- Eldad Ben Aharon, Leiden University Institute for Area Studies, Netherlands

- Elisa von Joeden-Forgey, Past Vice-President, International Association Genocide Scholars (IAGS), Endowed Chair, Department of Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Keene State College, USA

- Eugene N. Anderson, Professor Emeritus, Anthropology, University of California, Riverside, USA

- Éva Merenics, Independent Researcher, Hungary

- Eve Zucker, Research Affiliate, Council of Southeast Asian Studies, Yale University, USA

- Grace V. Giammona, ALM candidate in International Relations at Harvard University, USA

- Greg Stanton, Founding President, Genocide Watch, USA

- Harutyun Marutyan, Director, Armenian genocide Museum & Institute, Armenia

- Henry C. Theriault, President, International Association of Genocide Scholars, USA

- Hervé Georgelin, Lecturer of History, University of Athens, Department of Turkish Studies and Modern Asian Studies, Greece
- Hilary Earl, Department of History, Nipissing University, Canada

- Hrag Yacoubian, University of British Columbia, Canada

- Ibrahim Malazada, Visiting Research fellow at CRPSR, Coventry University, UK, Lecturer at Soran University, Kurdistan Region

- Israel W. Charny, Past President, International Association Genocide Scholars (IAGS), Executive Director, Institute on the Holocaust & Genocide, Jerusalem.

- Jack Nusan Porter, Past Vice-President, International Association Genocide Scholars (IAGS), The Davis Center, Harvard University, USA

- Jakob Seerup, Bornholms Museum, Denmark

- James Burnham Sedgwick, Associate Professor, Department of History and Classics, Acadia University, Nova Scotia, Canada

- Jean-Philippe Belleau, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts Boston, USA

- Jeanine Ntihirageza, Professor and Director of the Center for Genocide and Human Rights Research in Africa and the Diaspora, Northeastern Illinois University , Chicago, USA

- Jenna Fagan, Lehigh University, USA

- Jenna Walmer, M.A. Candidate in Holocaust and Genocide Studies at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, USA

- Joanne D. Eisen, Independence Institute, USA

- John Cox, UNC Charlotte, Associate Professor, Department of Global Studies, Director, Center for Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Studies, USA

- John Liffiton, Director, Genocide Conference, Scottsdale Community College

- Joseph Mai, Clemson University, USA

- Juan Pablo Artinian, Torcuato Di Tella University, Argentina

- Kasturi Chatterjee, Assistant Professor, FLAME University, India

- Kate W. English, Executive Director, EIHR: The Educators’ Institute for Human Rights, Washington, DC, USA

- Kaziwa Salih, Queens’ University, Canada

- Kerry Whigham, Assistant Professor of Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention, Binghamton University; Director of Research and Online Education, Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities, USA

- Kirk C Allison, MS, Health Humanities, Saint Scholastica College, USA

- Luisa Morettin, NCI University London, UK

- Maral N. Attallah, Distinguished Lecturer, Dept. of Critical Race, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Humboldt State University, USA

- Marc I. Sherman, Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide, Jerusalem, Israel

- Martin Bitschnau, "Society for the Documentation of Genocides [ger] (Völkermord.at – Gesellschaft für die Dokumentation von Völkermorden)", Austria

- Matthias Bjørnlund, Danish Institute for Study Abroad, Denmark

- Michaela Moura-Koçoglu, Assistant Teaching Professor, Center for Women and Gender Studies, Florida International University, Miami, USA

- Nancy L. Rosenblum, Department of Government, Harvard University, USA

- Nélida Elena Boulgourdjian, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina

- Pamela Steiner, Harvard School of Public Health, USA

- Patrick Hein, Lecturer of Politics, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Japan

- Paul Slovic, University of Oregon, USA

- Peter Balakian, Rebar Professor of the Humanities, Colgate University, USA

- Péter Pál Kránitz, independent scholar, Hungary

- Raymond Kévorkian, president of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institut Foundation

- Regina Paulose, International Criminal Law Attorney, USA

- Robert Jay Lifton, Columbia University, USA

- Rubina Peroomian, UCLA, Genocide Studies, USA

- Ruth Amir, Yezreel Valley College, Israel

- Samantha Lakin, Advanced Doctoral Candidate, Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Clark University; Fulbright Scholar (Rwanda 2017-2018; Switzerland 2011-2012), USA

- Sara Birjandian, Vancouver, BC, Canada

- Sara E. Brown, Member of the IAGS Advisory Board, Executive Director of the Center for Holocaust, Human Rights & Genocide Education, New Jersey, USA
- Shepherd Mpofu, University of Limpopo, South Africa

- Stacey M. Mitchell, Georgia State University’s Perimeter College, USA

- Stephanie Wolfe, Weber State University, USA

- Steven A Usitalo, Professor of History, Chair of the Department of History and Social Sciences, Northern State University, USA

- Suren Manukyan, Member of the IAGS Advisory Board, Head, UNESCO Chair on Education and Prevention of Genocide and Other Atrocity Crimes at Yerevan State University; Armenian Genocide Museum & Institute, Armenia

- Suzanne Khardalian Holmquist, film director, Stockholm, Sweden

- Tessa Hofmann, author and independent scholar of genocide studies, Berlin, Germany

- Theodosios Kyriakidis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

- Todd Gitlin, Columbia University, USA

- Vahagn Avedian, independent researcher, genocide, peace and conflict studies, Sweden

- Yair Auron, Open University of Israel (Emeritus), Israel




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