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HomeWorldAsiaThe fall of Nagorno-Karabakh shatters the dreams of Armenian people

The fall of Nagorno-Karabakh shatters the dreams of Armenian people

The rapid takeover of the ethnic Armenian-dominated enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh has stunned the Armenian community around the world. Traumatised by the genocide of a century ago, they fear the destruction of part of their historic homeland.

On Thursday, the government of ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh announced its dissolution: the unrecognised republic will cease to exist by the end of the year.

Azerbaijan has promised to respect the rights of the territory’s Armenian community, but by Thursday morning 74,400 people, more than 60 per cent of Nagorno-Karabakh’s population, had fled to Armenia. Armenian officials state the influx continues.

Many in Armenia and beyond fear that a centuries-old community in the territory they call Artsakh will disappear as a result of so-called ethnic cleansing.

They blame European countries, Russia and the United States – as well as the Armenian government itself – for failing to protect ethnic Armenians during the months of blockade by the Azerbaijani military and during Azerbaijan’s military operation.

Armenians call this loss a historic blow. For years, they had dreamed that Artsakh would one day gain independence or join Armenia. Nagorno-Karabakh was “a page of hope in Armenian history,” said Narod Seroujian, an Armenian-Armenian university instructor in Beirut.

It showed us that there is hope to gain back a land that is rightfully ours … For the diaspora, Nagorno-Karabakh was already part of Armenia.

Hundreds of Lebanese Armenians protested outside the Azerbaijani Embassy in Beirut on Thursday. They waved flags of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh and burned pictures of the presidents of Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Ethnic Armenians have communities all across Europe, the Middle East and the United States. Lebanon is home to one of the largest, with an estimated 120,000 of Armenian origin, 4% of the population.

This is the last migration for Armenians. There is no other place left for us to migrate from.

Azerbaijan claims it is reunifying its territory, noting that even the Armenian Prime Minister has recognised Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan.

Armenians regard the area as the cradle of their culture, with monasteries dating back more than a millennium. Lebanese legislator Hagop Pakradounian, head of Lebanon’s largest Armenian group, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, stated:

Artsakh or Nagorno-Karabakh has been a land for Armenians for hundreds of years. The people of Artsakh are being subjected to a new genocide, the first genocide in the 21st Century.

An Armenian group called Europeans for Artsakh is planning a rally in Brussels in front of the European Union buildings next week. They are going to condemn what they say are ethnic cleansing and human rights abuses by Azerbaijan, and to call for EU sanctions against Azerbaijani officials.

The rally is timed to coincide with a summit of European leaders in Spain on 5 October, where the Armenian prime minister and Azerbaijani president will hold talks mediated by the French president, the German chancellor and the president of the European Council.

Kim Kardashian, perhaps the most famous Armenian-American woman today, called on President Joe Biden on social media to “stop the new Armenian genocide.”

Several Armenian groups are raising funds to support Karabakh Armenians fleeing their homes. However, Seroujian, an instructor in Beirut, said many feel helpless.

There are moments where personally, the family, or among friends we just feel hopeless. And when we talk to each other we sort of lose our minds.


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