Read here the letter by Baroness Caroline Cox published by The Guardian newspaper (18 September 2023) warning of looming genocide in Nagorno-Karabakh caused by Azerbaijan’s brutal blockade of the Lachin Corridor. Baroness Cox is a patron of Barnabas Aid, and the founder of the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust.
I returned, heartbroken, last night, from Armenia where I met Armenians suffering from forced displacement by Azerbaijan from their homeland of Nagorno Karabakh; other Armenians living in fear imposed by Azerbaijan’s current creeping invasion and occupation of Armenian sovereign territory; heard accounts of Azerbaijan's continuing imprisonment of Armenians as hostages; witnessed, including through live links with those in Nagorno Karabakh itself, the grave suffering inflicted by Azerbaijan on the Armenian civilians of Nagorno Karabakh through its brutal blockade, since last December, of the Lachin Corridor – the only internationally recognised route for provision of food supplies, causing severe health problems due to mass starvation including the risk of severe malnutrition for 30,000 children, which may cause irreversible physical and mental stunting.
I and those colleagues travelling with me, met civilians in the established Armenian town of Goris who described how they live in constant fear of military offensives from a visible Azeri military emplacement, seen by our own eyes, ensconced inside the internationally recognised borders of Armenia. And we were told about the continuing imprisonment of Armenians by Azerbaijan in gross violation of a 2020 ceasefire agreement.
We photographed the huge amount of aid trucks held at the border and Azerbaijan's military bases illegally located inside Armenia.
Azerbaijan's brutal policy of starvation “is the invisible weapon of genocide” according to the first Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Morena Ocampa. Earlier this month, the Azerbaijan President’s representative, Elchin Amirbayov, threatened in a Deutsche Welle interview that “a genocide may happen” in Nagorno Karabakh if its leaders fail to submit to Azerbaijan’s demands. According to international law, such policies require urgent response from the international community. But now, as I have witnessed, there has been no effective response and the suffering inflicted by Azerbaijan continues unabated.
What much of the world is choosing to turn its eyes away from is nothing short of a medieval style siege being committed by the evil Aliyev regime of Azerbaijan, in the twenty first century, against innocent women, children and men. The only crime those innocent people have committed has been to incur the personal hatred of President Aliyev and his regime. That regime is no kinder to many of its own people than it is to anyone else who incurs its wrath. It represents the worst form of intimidation, bullying, and suppression of anyone who dares to stand in its way. All who do so are subject to the most egregious abuses of their human rights.
We must ask the UK government when and how it will fulfil its responsibility, under international law, to prevent genocide and how it will respond, meaningfully and immediately through its own links to the Aliyev regime, to save human life. We must also ask the economic partners of the Aliyev regime to examine their consciences and reflect upon the long-term consequences for them in providing the money and other support which allows this regime, even to the extent of genocide, to operate in our world today.
The Baroness Cox
Independent member of the House of Lords