According to the Washington-based organization, which works with global partners to predict and prevent genocides, the Armenian population living in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region is at risk of genocide by Azerbaijani forces.
Gregory Stanton, founding president and chairman of Genocide Watch, explained that the organization considers Azerbaijan to be at “Stage 9: Extermination” and “Stage 10: Denial” levels of their “Ten Stages of Genocide”.
“What we have here is a genocide emergency because we have real attacks from Azerbaijan and we have persecution of the group in a very real way in that you have forced displacement in a sense. because the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh fled, ”he told CTVNews.ca in a telephone interview from Northern Virginia on Wednesday.
Up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed in a World War I genocide during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. While Turkey still refuses to recognize the event as genocide more than a century later, some thirty countries have recognized it as such, including Canada. The US Senate and House of Representatives have passed resolutions recognizing the Armenian Genocide, but not the executive branch.
While Stanton said he has evidence that most war crimes are committed by Azerbaijanis, he said that neither side is innocent in this conflict. He said the current Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is responsible for starting part of the conflict by claiming that Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Armenia.
Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but the region has been under the control of Armenian ethnic forces backed by Armenia since the end of the 1988-1994 war between the two sides.
Although a ceasefire was declared in 1994, the two countries are deadlocked on the territory. The latest fighting, which began in late September, was the most intense since the end of the war with hundreds and possibly thousands of people killed, according to the Associated Press.
“The fact that, you know, that [Prime Minister] Pashinyan from Armenia made these claims, I think, recklessly… well, it was like pushing Azerbaijanis in the eye, ”Stanton said.
“This is something that really needs to be resolved peacefully. “A PEACEFUL RESOLUTION?
Frank Chalk, professor of history at Concordia University in Montreal and board member of Genocide Watch, said both sides in the conflict were targeting civilians.
“Civilians are suffering more than soldiers from all the reports we have received. So the genocide warning that has been issued speaks more to crimes against humanity at the moment and that mainly includes targeting civilians, ”he said in a telephone interview with CTVNews.ca on Tuesday.
Chalk thinks he sees the “warning signs” of genocide in Nagorno-Karabakh, but he doesn’t think there are any just yet.
“Genocide may be on the horizon and the world needs to pay much more attention to stopping the fighting and resolving the dispute peacefully,” he said. “But I don’t think we are at the extermination stage.
As for the peaceful resolution that Stanton and Chalk have called for, Neil Hauer, a Canadian journalist stationed in Armenia who has been covering the conflict from the start, said some international “buy-in” is needed before the fighting. will stop.
“Not just, you know, bring these guys to the table and get them to agree to something without international observers or anything present,” he told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview from Armenia. Wednesday.
Hauer said he believes Russia will play a key role in establishing peace in the region as he said it is the only international actor with assets on the ground to enforce a ceasefire. -fire at the moment.
“They could immediately enter [Nagorno-Karabakh] with some kind of observers or peacekeepers and organize the fighting and organize the Azerbaijani offensive and that will, of course, have to be accompanied by some kind of political agreement, ”he explained.
There have been two ceasefire attempts in the past month by Russia and a third attempt brokered by the United States over the weekend. All deals were broken shortly after their conceptions after reports of violations from both sides.
Hauer said that if the fighting continues and Azerbaijan takes over Nagorno-Karabakh militarily, he believes there will be massive ethnic cleansing of Armenians there. He said that is why it is so important for the international community to get involved to help enforce a lasting peace agreement on the ground.
“Firm international action must be taken to bring both sides to the table,” he said. “It will go on for months to come if there is no international action on this.”
Stanton agrees that international intervention is needed, which is why he said Genocide Watch calls on Russia and the United States to negotiate a peace deal with Armenia and Azerbaijan and to create a force. United Nations peacekeeping force which will be positioned in the disputed territory.
“We need political will,” he said.
With files from the Associated Press and AFP