The situation in Nagorno-Karabakh constitute to genocide, President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars Melanie O'Brien has said in an interview with Blankspot.
“It is clear that Azerbaijan is attacking the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh because they are Armenians. Therefore, the group is being targeted as an ethnic and, or, national group, both of which are protected groups under the Genocide Convention [Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide],” Melanie O'Brien said.
According to her, the genocide process started by the effective blockade of the Lachin corridor.
"However, since the blockade of the Lachin Corridor, the deliberate starvation and denial of access to healthcare demonstrates an intent not just to ethnically cleanse Nagorno-Karabakh of Armenians, but to physically destroy them. Denial of food and healthcare only leads to death, and these actions are a crucial part of genocide, which we have seen in other genocides including the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, the Cambodian Genocide and the Rohingya Genocide," she explained.
“Azerbaijan said it would open the Lachin corridor to let residents of Nagorno-Karabakh out. However, they won’t be able to return. Thus, the choice of those 120,000 people in Nagorno-Karabakh is: stay and suffer genocide through starvation and lack of healthcare. This is despite the fact that the International Court of Justice in The Hague (ICJ) has made it clear to Azerbaijan that the blockade of the Lachin Corridor creates a direct risk to Armenians,” Melanie O'Brien added.
Further, she said that Azerbaijan is aware of the order from The Hague but continues the blockade. “In addition, Azerbaijan has bombed civilian areas in recent days, which is also considered a war crime. Thousands have fled from villages that Azerbaijan has taken and occupied without anywhere else to go but to other parts of Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan is now killing by bombing, starvation and denial of healthcare. Azerbaijan has said it will deliver food and fuel to Nagorno-Karabakh, but it remains seen as to whether this will be done, after 9 months of denying such humanitarian needs,” she said.
In her assessment, risk factors for genocide had existed in Nagorno-Karabakh for many years, including incitement to hatred and the destruction of Armenian cultural heritage sites such as churches.
“Hate speech and demonization have occurred, among other things, from leaders in the country, in the media, and in school education. However, from December 2022, when Azerbaijan blocked the Lachin Corridor and subsequently other roads out of Nagorno-Karabakh, this is when we saw the risk of genocide rise, and once this blockade continued, it has become genocide. This is because the people of Nagorno-Karabakh have been unable to leave the enclave,” President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars Melanie O'Brien said.