- Luis Moreno Ocampo, first prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, said Azerbaijan’s blockade applies as genocide under the Genocide Convention
- Ocampo called on world powers to prevent starvation of 120,000 Armenians
- CFTJ says turning a blind eye to the tragedy could ripple around the world
MONTROSE, Calif., Aug. 11, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Center for Truth and Justice (CFTJ), a group of attorneys dedicated to collecting testimonial evidence of war crimes, has called on world powers to intervene in Nagorno-Karabakh after a report this week by renowned international legal expert Luis Moreno Ocampo found Azerbaijan’s blockade of the enclave constituted a genocide against the 120,000 ethnic Armenians living there.
“This hidden genocide, starvation by blockade, has been exposed,” the California-based group said. “It is now the responsibility of state parties, especially the US, to take measures to stop Genocide 2023.”
Maggie Arutyunyan, Esq. a founding member and member of the Board of Directors of CFTJ said the horror of genocide in Nagorno-Karabakh is the failure of the state parties to the Genocide Convention that keep repeating the words “never again” to mass atrocities but have not stepped up to prevent the latest case.
“When put on notice by Mr. Ocampo’s thorough report, those who continue to turn a blind eye become complicit in Genocide 2023,” she said, adding that ending the blockade will have the immediate effect of preventing what Ocampo called the “physical destruction” of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh. “At this point, it takes political will by the US and state parties to stop Genocide 2023, and stop starvation by blockade.”
Azerbaijan seized control of much of Nagorno-Karabakh, which lies inside Azerbaijan’s official borders but which has operated as a self-governing entity for decades, in a deadly 2020 war. What remains of the enclave – known by Armenians as Artsakh – is connected to the outside world by the Lachin Corridor. On December 12, 2022, Azerbaijan blocked the road, allowing only intermittent passage by the Red Cross and Russian peacekeepers – and since June 15 all passage has been entirely blocked, cutting off food and other supplies.
“Without immediate dramatic change, this group of Armenians will be destroyed in a few weeks,” Ocampo wrote in the 22-page pro bono report (read it here) entitled “Genocide against Armenians in 2023.”
Ocampo, who was the first chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, noted that Article II(c) of the Genocide Convention determined that “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction” constituted a genocide attempt.
“You will find no crematoria in Artsakh, nor machetes, but genocide by starvation is no less devastating for being silent,” Ocampo said. “It was the same deadly method used against Armenians in 1915, against Poles and Jews in 1939, and against the people of Srebrenica in 1993. And unless we intervene right now, we’ll have a Genocide on our hands by year’s end.”
Ocampo, who began his legendary career by helping to liberate his native Argentina from military dictatorship, had written last week to Azerbaijan’s authoritarian president, Ilham Aliyev, demanding explanations about his intentions and cautioning that his behavior could be investigated as a genocide. He did not receive a reply. Ocampo said Aliyev should be investigated by the ICC, but the priority now is to prevent the physical elimination of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh.
“Ocampo’s meticulous analysis of President Aliyev’s intention of genocide, and possible avenues for state parties to prevent ‘physical destruction’ of Armenians, is crucial,” Arutyunyan said. “As neutral third parties we will continue to document first-hand evidence, using proper methodology ensuring its reliability and authenticity.”
The Center for Truth and Justice collects testimonial evidence of war crimes and provides them to international organizations and actors – especially amplifying the voice of Armenians affected by discrimination, ethnic cleansing, displacement, war crimes, mass atrocities and genocide.
Ocampo’s report, released Aug. 8, has been delivered to the President of Nagorno-Karabakh, Arayik Harutyunyan, to Armenia’s Ambassador to the United Nations Mher Margaryan, and to the Armenian Foreign Ministry in Yerevan.
During his time at the ICC, in 2008, Ocampo obtained arrest warrants against Sudan’s then-President Omar al-Bashir for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur. Bashir was deposed and is in jail in Khartoum.
ABOUT THE CFTJ:
CFTJ is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, established in November 2020 in response to the Nagorno-Karabakh war. We are a group of lawyers overseeing the collection of firsthand testimonial evidence from war survivors via in-depth, recorded interviews. We run two law clinics, one in Armenia and one in Nagorno-Karabakh, which are the first of their kind. Through our clinics, we train Armenian law students and young lawyers to interview survivors of the war and record their testimonies. To date, we have conducted hundreds of interviews and trained nearly 100 current or future lawyers. By being a permanent home for the testimonials, CFTJ serves as a resource to academic and legal practitioners who seek to use the evidence for purposes of education and/or legal action.
Maggie Arutyunyan, Communications Director, at 1(818)749-8185
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SOURCE Center for Truth and Justice