The United States should act against the aggression of Azerbaijan, Turkey and international terrorist groups as a matter of responsibility to protect the Armenian people
Dear Ambassador Tracy,
When FLEX finalists are selected from Armenia to start their exchange year in the United States, we are told to be responsible citizens not only of our country but also the world. As FLEX students, we were often told that we are ambassadors of Armenian culture in the United States and of American culture in Armenia. Living up to the civic and moral standards taught by the FLEX program, granted the status of intercultural ambassadors, we are obliged to urge you to act when a US agency is existentially important, though lacking.
We call upon you, as the ambassador of the United States to Armenia, to urge your government of the United States to condemn the thoroughly preplanned military aggression against the peaceful population of Nagorno Karabakh/Artsakh and Armenia by Azerbaijan, NATO member Turkey and terrorists which the United States has been fighting for years. This aggression has triggered a deadly and devastating war, amid the global pandemic of COVID-19, threatening not only regional security, but also global peace, democracy and stability.
Almost a century ago, Armenia faced a similar humanitarian disaster of the Armenian Genocide, and Americans did what made America so great. The American Near East Relief saved thousands of Armenian lives. Today our generation faces a similar danger. Right now, the generations of those who were miraculously and heroically saved by the American people are facing an equal threat.
Firstly, Azerbaijan has initiated unprovoked hostilities against Armenia and Artsakh. This was not unexpected. The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, openly shared Armenophobic statements during the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly, calling Armenia a terrorist country that is against peace, while himself inviting terrorists to the border of Nagorno Karabakh. As proud representatives of American and Armenian values, we understand that this war was initiated by the dictatorial leadership of Azerbaijan and Turkey, and not by the people of Azerbaijan, among which are our fellow FLEX alumni, who could also benefit from freedom and democracy that the United States is capable of helping to nurture, a bond which could also prevent further war in our region.
Secondly, the NATO member Turkey is not only directly and militarily involved in the war, but also recruits terrorist rebel fighters from Syria and Libya to fight against the Armenian people, both in Nagorno Karabakh and in Armenia. During our exchange years many of us were taken to 9/11 Memorial in New York City, and were taught about the threat that terrorism poses to all that is American. Today, various international news outlets, including CNN, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Reuters and various government officials including French President Emmanuel Macron and intelligence services of several countries, confirm the truthfulness of these statements. On the other hand, the United States, the global leader of the fight against terrorism of the alliance of democracy, stays quiet. The de-jure unrecognized Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh has become the main power in the fight against terrorism in our region and is preventing its further expansion.
Thirdly, in gross violation of international humanitarian law and human rights, Azerbaijan and Turkey are targeting civilians, key civilian infrastructure and journalists. From September 27 to October 5, 20 civilian casualties, 93 wounded, and over 5,800 damaged properties and key civilian infrastructures in Artsakh, as reported by the Human Rights Defender of Artsakh. As a result of Azerbaijani aggression, over 50% of the population of Nagorno Karabakh (75,000 children, women, elderly) had to leave their homes. These facts clearly represent the wishes of the Azerbaijani government, which is to displace or destroy the Armenian population who inhabit the territories of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh).
Azerbaijan’s targeted attacks on civilian infrastructures in Nagorno-Karabakh resulted in heavy injuries, among them several local and international journalists. Particularly, a reporter from the French Le Monde, Allan Kaval, and a Russian reporter Yuriy Kotenok, editor-in-chief of Segodnya.ru had to go through immediate medical surgery.
Lastly, in 2006 when the Armenian Jugha cemetery was completely destroyed in Azerbaijan the world was silently mourning, if at all. Today, Azerbaijan continues the cultural genocide of the Armenian heritage in Nagorno Karabakh. A preservation of incomparable archeological significance, the city of Tigranakert, dated back to the 1st-century BC, is under consistent shelling. On the 8th of October, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces double shelled the Saint Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Shushi, a place of pilgrimage and a national symbol to Armenians from around the world.
As FLEX alumni, carrying the values of democracy, responsible citizenship and human rights, we are obliged to raise our voice in protest and to appeal to you and the government of the United States in order to:
- Refrain from both-siding in its calls and statements to end hostilities, while even the leadership of Azerbaijan does not try to hide its engagement in the offensive.
- Immediately suspend all military cooperation with Azerbaijan and Turkey until further investigation regarding the use of American technology and taxpayers’ money against the civilian population and other abuses of human rights.
- Thoroughly investigate the infiltration of terrorists by Azerbaijan and Turkey, in line with other world leaders and international media․
- Apply sanctions against those states and relevant politicians that have been engaged in the recruitment of terrorists and stand behind the gross violations of international humanitarian law against the civilian population of Artsakh.
- Restore the Section 907, U.S. Ban on Aid to Azerbaijan until Azerbaijan takes demonstrable steps to cease offensive uses of force against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
- Employ all leverages at the disposal of the US government to stop Turkey’s meddling and its political, military, financial and criminal role in the hazardous escalation of war.
- Take immediate measures to organize and provide humanitarian aid to the children, women and elderly of Artsakh who found refuge in Armenia and the civilians suffering under the daily and deliberate shelling in the towns and villages of Nagorno Karabakh.
- Consider the right of the people of Nagorno Karabakh to self-determination based on their claim of remedial secession as the only possible guarantee that can ensure their fundamental right to life. This is an aspect of utmost importance, once more proven by the actions of the Azerbaijani state against the civilian population and the recruitment of terrorists against them.
- We urge the American government to take immediate actions in coherence with global human rights. We hope the efforts of your noble ancestors in giving a helping hand to the Armenian genocide survivors will not be wasted, and that your decisive moves will prevent further tragedies.
FLEX Alumni of Armenia
(The letter is an individual initiative of FLEX Alumni and does not represent the opinion of the American Councils and FLEX Alumni Program in Armenia)
Anzhelika Minasyan Sevak
Anahit Martirosyan Levon