Brussels, 7 September 2023 – The European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD) expresses its profound regret and strong condemnation of the recent statement issued by the Rabbinical Center of Europe (RCE) concerning the ongoing conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh. In this statement the European rabbis expressed their concerns regarding the usage of terms such as “genocide” in reference to the situation the native Armenian population of Nagorno Karabakh/Artsakh is facing.
As a European-Armenian organization the EAFJD acknowledges the sensitivity of the term, particularly in light of the immense suffering endured by the Jewish people during the Holocaust, and fully supports the importance of paying homage as well as preserving the memory of those tragic events. The term is not used as a historical comparison; rather, it is being utilized in accordance with the definition outlined in the United Nations’ Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
Several reports and statements from independent international organizations and human rights groups have been alerting about Azerbaijan’s ongoing policy in Nagorno Karabakh/Artsakh which is genocidal in its essence. In a recent report the former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno Ocampo argues that there is “a reasonable basis to believe a Azerbaijan is currently committing a “genocide” against the indigenous Armenian population of Nagorno Karabakh/ Artsakh. Genocide Watch has also issued numerous alerts in this regard.
The international legal definition of genocide, as recognized by the United Nations in the 1948 Genocide Convention, includes acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group. State parties of the Genocide Convention assumed duty to prevent and punish Genocide. The International Court of Justice ruled that the state parties should “not wait until the perpetration of Genocide commences” and “the whole point of obligation is to prevent or attempt to prevent the occurrence of the act.”
For nine months now Azerbaijan has been keeping the 120.000 native Armenian population of Nagorno Karabakh/Artsakh, including 30.000 children in a blockade, in blatant violation of 9 November 2020 trilateral ceasefire statement that it signed. Since 15 June 2023, the Azerbaijani authorities have imposed a total siege by blocking access to food and other essential goods. This has been happening, despite the fact that the United States, the European Union, International Court of Justice, the European Court of Justice have all been calling on Azerbaijani to immediately lift the blockade. Azerbaijan has been using starvation and deprivation of access to basic necessities with the aim of forcing the Armenians out of their own homeland.
The EAFJD calls on the rabbis of the RCE to recognize the severity of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh and stay true to the principles of justice and human rights as representatives of a nation that once urgently needed the support and empathy of the international community in its quest for justice.