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Baroness Caroline Cox, a member of the House of Lords of the United Kingdom (UK), has issued a letter addressed to the people of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). The letter runs as follows:  To the people of the Republic of Artsakh, for whom I have profound  affection and deep respect.  I write to you today because 120,000 innocent civilians face an existential crisis. 

Conditions are now present for genocide against the Armenian Christians of  Artsakh.  

Your people have suffered, and continue to suffer, the most serious international  crimes. I have personally witnessed the results of massacres, atrocities and forced  displacement. Yet the world has chosen to turn a deaf ear to your suffering. Even  your closest international allies have either not paid attention to, or ignored, the  warning signs of genocide.  

During this darkest hour, I stand in solidarity with the Armenians of Artsakh. I  have great confidence in your ability to overcome this crisis with courage,  fortitude, sacrifice and love – not only will you survive but you will create beauty  from the ashes of destruction.  I am told that I have visited the Republic of Artsakh 88 times since 1990. I have  been privileged to experience the love of your history and your rich culture of  music, dance and art – all within the context of the breathtaking beauty of your  land’s rugged mountains, thick forests, fertile valleys and crystal rivers. I have  been blessed to meet a host of wonderful people, many the direct descendants of  victims of the Great Genocide in Anatolia, or themselves victims of anti  Armenian pogroms in Sumgait and Baku, and ethnic-religious cleansing in  Artsakh. I am struck by the unanimity with which they share a simple common  goal: it is to live in peace, dignity and security in their own historic land. This longing continues to fill my heart.  

I always carry with me the memory of a young woman I met in a hospital in  Martakert in 1992, after I had visited the village of Maragha, which had just been  subjected to a massacre inflicted by Azerbaijan. Whilst in the remains of the  village, I saw corpses of civilians decapitated by Azerbaijani militants; vertebrae  still on the ground; people’s blood still smeared on walls; homes that had been  set alight were still smoldering. The day I met this woman, she was in agony over  the deaths of her son and fourteen of her relatives who had been killed in the  1  massacre in Maragha. I wept with her. There are no words for a time like that.  But when she stopped weeping, I asked her if she had a message she would like  to share with the world. She replied, “All I want to say is thank you to those  people who have not forgotten us in these terrible days.” 

I do not think “thank you” are the words that would have come to my mind on  the day I had seen so many of my family killed in such horrific circumstances.  That is the dignity of the Armenian people. If I could speak to this woman today,  I would tell her: “We love you and we have not forgotten you, even as the dark  cloud of the Armenian Genocide, once again, looms over the mountains of your  land.” 

During the previous war, I met an Armenian man who had seen the body of a  five-year-old Armenian girl, cut in two, hanging from the branch of a tree. He  wept with horror and vowed revenge. Later, when his section of the Karabakh  army captured villages, he could not bring himself to harm an Azerbaijani child.  When this story was told at a dinner – in the Armenian style of making speeches  – a journalist commended the man for his humanity and dignity. To which he  replied: “Dignity is a crown of thorns.” The people of Artsakh have been wearing  your crown of thorns with inspirational courage and dignity.  I have never been as concerned about Artsakh’s future as I am today. Azerbaijan’s  conquest and ethnic-religious cleansing of two thirds of Artsakh in 2020, with the  direct assistance of Turkey and its allied jihadist militias; its detention, torture  and killing of Armenian hostages; its subsequent military incursions and  occupation of territory belonging to the Republic of Armenia; its current blockade  of Artsakh; and its territorial claims on the whole of Armenia all bear witness to  this grim reality.  Conditions are present for genocide against the Armenian Christians of Artsakh. 

However, signatories to the Genocide Convention – including the United States,  France and my own Government in the United Kingdom – have refused their legal obligation to prevent the worst from happening, to provide protection to  those who need it, and to punish those who are responsible for atrocities. Not one  nation appears willing to prevent, provide or protect.  I am deeply disturbed by reports that the Republic of Armenia is being pressured  by international powers to contemplate sacrificing your homeland of Artsakh to  the Republic of Azerbaijan in return for a so-called peace treaty. If reports are to  be believed, those involved in the negotiation process say that the treaty will  secure the borders of the Republic of Armenia and allow trade to open up with  the Turkish world.  2  My dear friends, as you are aware, these promises of peace and prosperity come  at a price. If the treaty is signed in its current form, you would be expected to  surrender your international right of self-determination. You would be expected  to concede control over your lives, liberty and land. To use a recent phrase from  the Armenian Supreme Spiritual Council: By “recognising the Republic of  Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan, the Armenian authorities will inevitably confront  our brothers and sisters in Artsakh with a new genocide and depatriation.” 

If a peace treaty is signed and later broken by Azerbaijan, history has shown that international powers would not be willing to respond. During the Russian brokered ceasefire in November 2020, Azerbaijan promised to ‘stop at their  current positions’ yet its armed forces have since advanced into new positions with impunity. Azerbaijan promised ‘the exchange of prisoners of war’, yet  dozens of Armenian military and civilian personnel remain in Azerbaijani  custody, many of whom have undergone speedy criminal trials. Azerbaijan has  not been held to account for breaking the 2020 ceasefire. One can only suspect  that an agreement that results from present-day negotiations, in their current form, will not guarantee peace for the Armenians of Artsakh.  

One of my great fears is the annihilation of all Armenian churches, monuments  and other cultural and spiritual treasures, which would fall under Azerbaijan’s  control. Many Armenian sites have already been targeted and badly damaged  since 2020, including the world-famous Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Shushi, an  archaeological camp near Tigranakert, and a memorial dedicated to the victims  of the previous war. We must not forget the systematic erasure of centuries-old  Armenian religious sites in Nakhchivan, including the attack on the Armenian  Djulfa cemetery, where Azerbaijani soldiers, armed with sledgehammers and  cranes, destroyed hundreds of hand-carved cross-stones. Under Azerbaijan’s  control, there are strong grounds for belief that another ‘Nakhichevan’ would be  imposed in Artsakh – a priceless part of humanity’s common cultural heritage  will be destroyed.   I keep in mind a lesson from the Bible. In the last days of the kingdom of Judah,  the Prophet Jeremiah lamented that his countrymen were saying, “‘Peace, peace,’  when there is no peace.” In that case, the consequence of the nation accepting a  false sense of peace was the loss of its homeland and exile in a foreign country.  

When I was a young child, my own country was isolated and facing its darkest  hour. Great Britain was existentially threatened by an ultra-nationalistic,  genocidal dictatorship. Our then Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, promised  the nation “peace in our time”, but there was no peace. His successor, Winston  Churchill assumed the post of Prime Minister promising the nation nothing more  3  than “blood, toil, sweat and tears”. But the indescribable price of ‘blood, toil,  sweat and tears’ resulted in the privilege we now enjoy of living in freedom.  

It is my hope and prayer that the long-suffering Armenian nation will continue to  strive for the opportunity to live in peace and dignity in your own land. This is  the blessing that my family and I, along with all Britons, enjoy. For that great  privilege I am deeply indebted to those in my nation who, over eighty years ago,  chose to endure a great sacrifice, rather than accepting a false promise of peace.  Please be assured of my continued daily prayers, and of my continued advocacy  on your behalf. Every one of you means much to me and to many others around  the world.  I pray for God’s blessing on you all and that you will long live in a free Armenia  and free Artsakh.

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