Armenians face genocide in Azerbaijan, former International Criminal Court prosecutor warns

By ABBY SEWELL
August 9, 2023

KORNIDZOR, Armenia (AP) — The former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court warned that Azerbaijan is preparing genocide against ethnic Armenians in its Nagorno-Karabakh region and called for the U.N. Security Council to bring the matter before the international tribunal.

A report by Luis Moreno Ocampo issued Tuesday said Azerbaijan’s blockade of the only road leading from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh seriously impedes food, medical supplies and other essentials to the region of about 120,000 people.

“There is a reasonable basis to believe that a genocide is being committed,” Ocampo’s report said, noting that a U.N. convention defines genocide as including “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction.”

“There are no crematories and there are no machete attacks. Starvation is the invisible genocide weapon. Without immediate dramatic change, this group of Armenians will be destroyed in a few weeks,” the report said.

Nagorno-Karabakh is a region within Azerbaijan that came under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by the Armenian military in separatist fighting that ended in 1994. Armenian forces also took control of substantial territory around the region.

Azerbaijan regained control of the surrounding territory in a six-week war with Armenia in 2020. A Russia-brokered armistice that ended the war left the region’s capital, Stepanakert, connected to Armenia only by a road known as the Lachin Corridor, along which Russian peacekeeping forces were supposed to ensure free movement.

A government representative in Azerbaijan dismissed the report from Ocampo, who was the ICC’s first prosecutor, saying it “contains unsubstantiated allegations and accusations.”

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“It is biased and distorts the real situation on the ground and represents serious factual, legal and substantive errors,” Hikmet Hajiyev, an assistant to Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, told The Associated Press, on Wednesday.

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