Historical Freedom Struggle for Armenians in Azerbaijan
On Sept. 19th, artillery and drone strikes pummeled both military and civilian centers in Stepanakert, the capital of the breakaway Republic of Artsakh, which lies on the western edge of Azerbaijan.
The country, where most of the region’s population is Armenian, was the site of a brief but bloody war in 2020. Three years since a stop to the conflict, war has come to the region again, resulting in almost 100,000 Armenians fleeing the violence in Artsakh.
Since the 1880s, Armenians have faced persecution by the Ottoman Empire and its successor states.
During the Soviet era, a new Soviet Armenia was incorporated within the greater Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Armenians were often looked down upon, especially in the military, where most of their work was on the frontlines of conflicts in Afghanistan in the 1970s and were at the fore front of the dangerous clean up after the Chernobyl Nuclear disaster in 1986.
After the fall of U.S.S.R., the new Republic of Armenia was engaged in a war with the neighboring Republic of Azerbaijan. Supported by Turkey, who often sees the Azerbaijanis as Turkish brothers, aided the new Republic in waging a seven-year war on Armenia that left 20,000 civilians killed across both young nations.
At the onset of every conflict in the region internationally known as Nagorno-Karabakh, civilians have always been the subject of attacks by the Azeri’s. The brutal killings of the men of the Artsakh Defense Army, the state’s defense force, were not even hidden in Azerbaijan, as videos of the slaughters of members by the Azeri Army were shown publicly in urban centers in the capital of Baku.
It is hard to say what the outcome of the restart of the war will bring. Hesitations of the government of Armenia in getting involved in the conflict are more apparent now since its distancing from Russia following the start of the war in Ukraine.
Even though its cultural ties with Armenia are strong, there are fewer diplomatic connections with the government in Artsakh, especially since the closure of the Lachin Corridor, the only road that connects Armenia with Artsakh, was sealed off in December of 2022 by the government of Azerbaijan.
It will take a full confrontation by members of the UN to stop what can be seen as a restart of the Armenian Genocide and ethnic cleansing happening in Nagorno-Karabakh.