- Luis Moreno Ocampo, ex-prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, tells Congressional Human Rights Commission that Azerbaijan’s blockade of disputed enclave is a genocide and the US is at risk of complicity
- US should compel Azerbaijan to end blockade immediately, Ocampo says
MONTROSE, Calif., Sept. 7, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Center for Truth and Justice welcomed Luis Moreno Ocampo’s call on the United States to demand an end to Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Armenian-populated enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Ocampo, the first prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, said that the blockade is a genocide and cautioned that the United States risks complicity through inaction.
In a testimony Wednesday before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission at the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Ocampo said that “there is a reasonable basis to believe that Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Lachin Corridor constitutes genocide under Article II c) of the Convention” – and that the US, as a convention signatory, must do what it can to end it.
“The situation in Nagorno-Karabakh is desperate, with Azerbaijan trying to starve the population to force it to flee,” said Maggie Arutyunyan, a member of the leadership of the California-based Center for Truth and Justice (CFTJ). “We hope Ocampo’s testimony finally compels the United States and other states to move decisively to end this atrocity.”
The disputed Armenian-populated enclave, known to Armenians as Artsakh, ended up in Azerbaijan when the Soviet Union collapsed, but has since then operated as a self-governing entity. Azerbaijan seized much of the territory in a 2020 war that killed thousands of Armenians, and what remains of it is connected to the outside world by an access road known as the Lachin Corridor.
On December 12, 2022, Azerbaijan started blocking that road, and since June 15 all passage has been impeded, cutting off food and other supplies. At least one resident has died of starvation, and witnesses say basic supplies including baby formula are running out.
In his testimony, Ocampo said that the US, as a party to the Genocide Convention, “undertook the duty ‘to prevent and to punish'” genocide, and “accepted that under Article III e) complicity in genocide is punishable.” Alluding to ongoing Western-sponsored peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan, he said that “US involvement in a negotiation that includes a party, Azerbaijan, which is committing genocide could be characterized as complicity in genocide.”
“The duty to prevent does not require the US to intervene militarily in Azerbaijan but rather to use all available means as circumstances permit to have a deterrent effect on Azerbaijan,” he said. “The US should openly inform the Azerbaijan government that without the immediate and unconditional removal of the Lachin Corridor blockade, the US would consider Azerbaijan to be committing genocide.
Last month Ocampo issued a report finding that the blockade constitutes a case of genocide. Two weeks ago the first UN Advisor on Genocide, Juan Mendez, also affirmed in a report that Azerbaijan’s lack of compliance with a February order by the International Court of Justice to stop its blockade of food and humanitarian assistance to the 120,000 Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh is an “early warning” of genocide. The issue has also been recently discussed at the UN Security Council.
The CFTJ is a group of attorneys dedicated to collecting testimonial evidence of war crimes, is renewing its call on world powers to intervene to end the genocide facing Nagorno-Karabakh.
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.
Maggie Arutyunyan at 1(818)749-8185
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SOURCE Center for Truth & Justice