Artsakh / Nagorno Karabakh: Grief and anger over death from hunger

Warnings of an impending genocide go unheard

Göttingen, August 16, 2023 --- The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) has expressed dismay and anger about the death of 40-year-old K. Hovhannisyan from Stepanakert, Artsakh. Yesterday, the Ombudsman for Human Rights in Artsakh, Gegham Stepanjan, reported that Hovhannisyan hat literally starved to death. He was suffering from severe malnutrition and could no longer be given medical care. He is a victim of Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Lachin Corridor, which has been going on for eight months and was intensified in mid-June 2023, cutting off the Armenian population of Artsakh from all supplies.

Since the beginning of the blockade, human rights organizations, genocide researchers, and – in a human rights report – also Luis Moreno Ocampo (Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court from 2003 to 2012) have been warning of the consequences of the blockade. “Ocampo confirmed that the Armenian population of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) is threatened with genocide. According to the President of the Republic of Artsakh, the situation can be described as a “genocide in a large concentration camp”.  All these warnings have gone unheard. We must not just stand by and watch more people die in Artsakh,” demanded Sarah Reinke, the STP’s expert on Eastern Europe and Russia, in Göttingen today.

Together with other NGOs, the Society for Threatened Peoples had repeatedly demanded German and European politicians to agree on tangible sanctions against Azerbaijan’s blockade and, thus, to finally implement the decision of the International Court of Justice that the blockade must be lifted (February 22, 2023). To date, however, the necessary steps have not yet been taken.

The blockade of the region of Artsakh, which is inhabited almost exclusively by ethnic Armenians, is an existential threat for all of the approximately 120,000 inhabitants. There is no more baby food for the two-thousand infants under the age of twelve months. The number of premature births and miscarriages has tripled. According to a report from today, a miscarriage occurred because there was no ambulance available, due to the fuel shortages. The consequences of the blockade are especially noticeable in the health sector – primarily affecting the most vulnerable groups, such as children, pregnant women, as well as chronically ill and elderly people. The food shortages have led to malnutrition and hunger.

Contact: Sarah Reinke, expert on Eastern Europe: s.reinke@gfbv.de; +49 0551 49906-13