August 10, 2023
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AGBU Letter to Secretary Blinken Regarding Azerbaijan's Impending Genocide of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh

Dear Secretary Blinken:

Time has run out for diplomatic statements, public denouncements, lofty resolutions, negotiations, and talking points. A 21st century Armenian Genocide is imminent and the free world's continued inaction will allow the perpetrator, Azerbaijan, to complete the mission. 

As president of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), the world's largest Armenian non-profit organization, I am compelled to sound the alarm on behalf of the millions of Armenian Americans living in the United States who are concerned for their brothers and sisters in our ancestral homeland. 

Azerbaijan obviously does not understand words without actions. It does not comprehend the language of reason, peace, and humanity.  This has been strikingly demonstrated by its protracted blockade of the only road that connects the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh to the outside world, halting the delivery of food, fuel, medication, and other necessities to sustain life. 

This week, Luis Moreno Ocampo, one of the world's leading protectors of human rights, called it like it is: the abominable acts by Azerbaijan against innocent Armenians fit the very definition of genocide. 

The esteemed Ocampo--who cemented his reputation when he helped to liberate his native Argentina of military dictatorship, later served as the International Criminal Court’s first prosecutor, and brought some of the worst despots to justice-- issued an explosive new report making one very dire prediction: Unless we act, and quickly, we may very soon witness another Armenian genocide.

Ocampo’s report argues that Azerbaijan's actions against the Armenians have much in common with some of history’s most monstrous mass killings, from the extermination of the Armenians themselves in 1915 to the Nazi systemic starvation of Jews in 1939 to similar tactics applied in Srebrenica in 1993 and 1994. 

This doesn't come as news to AGBU. 

Given our 117 years in operation, with a mission to save and improve Armenian lives across the globe, AGBU was among the first hand witnesses to genocide in 1915. Over 1.5 million Armenian subjects of Ottoman Turkey perished through systematic massacres and barbaric killings, starvation, and forced death marches in the Syrian desert.  At the time, our pleas to the international community proved futile, despite many eyewitness accounts of international diplomats and numerous news reports and graphic documentary photographs by foreign journalists stationed in Turkey. The world watched in horror back then but did not act decisively and collectively to stop the Ottoman leaders from executing their genocidal aims.  The meme “starving Armenians" became widespread and, ironically, the Azeri blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh, now in its eighth month, is literally starving out the 120,000 Armenian civilians in Nagorno-Karabakh. Today, these innocent Armenian families are isolated in a death trap so that even humanitarian relief groups, including AGBU, cannot intervene to alleviate the widespread starvation that has descended like a plague upon multiple generations. 

Azerbaijan has apparently misinterpreted the tepid international response to its gross violations of international law as tacit permission to use any means necessary to eliminate a Christian community with ancient roots in the land and the region. We must prove Azerbaijan wrong and not a moment too soon. 

While there’s no shortage of global conflict vying for resources and attention, Ocampo's report on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh is an urgent wake-up call from a major moral voice that deserves your attention and action. ThereforeI have taken the liberty of sharing the full report.

We trust that these alarming findings will compel you to rush immediate relief, directly through the U.N. or via airlift, with a clear message to the Aliyev regime to open the Lachin Corridor immediately, “ensuring the unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles, and cargo in both directions.”

Azerbaijan should also be advised that failure to comply will result in its being held accountable by the world community and subjected to legal consequences.

This is the critical hour to prevent another crime against humanity before it is too late.

Thank you in advance for your immediate attention to this extremely time-sensitive appeal. 


Berge Setrakian

AGBU President