CNEWA Canada

Crisis: Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, a Timeline

An explosion today at a fuel depot in Nagorno-Karabakh, where hundreds had gathered to refuel their cars to flee Azerbaijan’s hostile occupation, has killed at least 125 people.

The explosion has sparked panic among the enclave’s surviving ethnic Armenian residents to flee to neighboring Armenia. The government of Armenia reported that as of today, 26 September, approximately 28,000 forcibly displaced people have crossed into Armenia.

“The flow of forcibly displaced persons continued throughout the whole night,” Armenuhi Mkhoyan, communications manager of Caritas Armenia, told CNEWA.

Since Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Armenian-inhabited enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh began in December 2022 — and its eventual assault begun last week and the subsequent surrender of the ethnic Armenian government — fears of a genocide and an “ethnic cleansing” at the hands of a hostile military force have gripped the world.

To learn more about how tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh between Azerbaijan and Armenia escalated into a humanitarian and human rights crisis, see the articles below covered by CNEWA, either in the blog or ONE magazine.

To support CNEWA’s response in assisting refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh in Armenia, visit our website.

Stay tuned for details for an urgent special edition of “Connections With Msgr. Peter” on CNEWA’s response on Thursday, 28 September. Time to be announced.

19 September 2023

Azerbaijan Launches a Military Offensive

Nagorno-Karabakh: Another Ethnic Cleansing in the Works?

“Right now — in real time — the images on social media from the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in the southern Caucasus remind us of the resurgence of ‘might over right’: Thousands of weary families, trapped in their mountainous enclave, are seeking refuge at the airport in their besieged capital of Stepanakert as they attempt to flee the forced integration of their homeland into a hostile Azeri state.”

Renewed Fighting Between Azerbaijan and Armenia Raising Fears of Ethnic Cleansing

“Azerbaijan and Armenian forces reached a cease-fire agreement on 20 September to end two days of fighting in the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh region, officials on both sides said. Azerbaijani authorities said they halted the military operation launched a day earlier once separatist officials announced laying down arms.” “Despite warnings to remain in bombs shelters, ethnic Armenians have been gathering at the airport in Stepanakert, seeking to flee the region. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said his government was not involved in the cease-fire negotiation. On 19 September he accused Azerbaijan of ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Nagorno-Karabakh.”

Residents of Nagorno-Karabakh fled to Stepanakert airport, where Russian peacekeepers are based, following Azerbaijan’s strikes on Nagorno-Karabakh on Tuesday, 19 September. (photo: Public Domain)

December 2022 September 2023

Azerbaijan Blockade of the Lachin Corridor

Nagorno-Karabakh Blockade Tightens, Crisis Intensifies

“The enclave’s isolation had been mitigated by the Lachin corridor, through which runs a road that has connected the region to Armenia proper. Since December 2022, however, Azerbaijani activists blockaded the route, in effect severing Nagorno-Karabakh and its ethnic Armenian residents from the outside world, with the exception of the International Committee of the Red Cross (I.C.R.C.) and Russian peacekeepers, who the combatants agreed could provide humanitarian support to the region.

“This blockade tightened on 15 June when all traffic on the lifeline, including the I.C.R.C. and Russian peacekeepers, was blocked. The I.C.R.C. ‘carried out transportation of medical patients and a very small amount of medicine … several times,’ after this ban, but on 11 July, Azerbaijan accused the I.C.R.C. of ‘smuggling’ through the corridor and restricted its movement entirely, according to Siranush Sargsyan, a reporter based in Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh. The shortage of supplies for the region’s population of 120,000 is acute.”

Ancient Christian Enclave Faces ‘Genocide by Starvation,’ Says Armenian Catholic Bishop

“An Armenian Catholic bishop is calling for prayer and action as some 120,000 ethnic Armenians face what he and other experts call ‘genocide by starvation.’ ”

“ ‘It is a violation of every kind of law,’ Bishop Mikael A. Mouradian of the California-based Armenian Catholic Eparchy of Our Lady of Nareg told OSV News.” …

“With the area surrounded by Muslim-majority Azerbaijan, the blockade amounts to an ‘ethnic cleansing of Christians,’ since ‘the sole Christian people in the Caucasus are now the Armenians,’ who are ‘not new in the region,’ said Bishop Mouradian.” “ ‘Armenians have been living on that land for more than 3,000 years,’ he said, ‘There are a lot of churches there from the fourth, eighth, 10th centuries. It’s not a new thing for Armenians.’ ”

The supermarkets in Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh, are near empty amid a regional food shortage, resulting from the blockade in the Lachin corridor. (photo: Siranush Sargsyan)

27 September 2020 – 10 November 2020

The Second Nagorno-Karabakh War

Armenia at War

“In parts of central Asia, time has stood still since Sunday, 27 September. As the world has been fighting the coronavirus pandemic, and gearing up for perhaps a second and more disastrous wave, some three million Armenians have been waging another war.”

Armenians in Flight

“The first casualties among civilians were reported at 10:17 a.m. — one woman and a child. Soon after, Armenians received word that 16 men died, then another 15, then 28. By the end of November, [Armenian or Artsakh] government reports put the number of Armenian deaths between 1,172 and 2,425, although up to 4,000 may be dead. Azerbaijan has not issued an official count of casualties or deaths.

“According to initial estimates, some 90,000 residents of Artsakh, primarily women, children and the elderly, fled their homes. Mrs. Poghosyan was among them.”

Destroyed pews and rubble in Azerbaijan cathedral
In this image from 8 October, damaged pews lie amid rubble inside Holy Savior Cathedral in Shusha, Nagorno-Karabakh, after shelling during a military conflict. (photo: CNS/David Ghahramanyan, NKR InfoCenter/PAN handout via Reuters)

A Contested Region

What is Nagorno-Karabakh?

“Nagorno-Karabakh (meaning ‘mountainous black garden’) refers to the highlands portion of the larger region of Karabakh — all of which now forms the de facto Republic of Artsakh. Largely set at thousands of feet above sea level, the territory is heavily forested, its valleys verdant and its natural resources — such as gold, limestone, marble and zinc — abundant.”

“Historically a part of greater Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh was for centuries annexed to the Persian empire, with local Armenian princes governing its territories and peoples: Ethnic Armenian Christians dominated the region yet coexisted with nomadic Turkic Shiite herdsmen and their families, ancestors of modern Azeris, who traversed its valleys and mountain passes.

“That coexistence began to erode in the early 20th century, but escalated during the waning days of World War I.”

“As the Soviets consolidated their power, Soviet leaders drew the borders of these republics. Tightening their grip, they awarded some territory to appease certain populations and withdrew it to subdue or punish others. Hence the Soviet incorporation of the historically Armenian Christian region of Nagorno-Karabakh as an autonomous region within the Turkic Shiite-dominated state of Azerbaijan.”

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