Azerbaijani Eco-Protests Are Part Of ‘Thinly Disguised’ Plot To ‘Eradicate’ Armenian Christians, Advocacy Group Says

  • Thousands of Armenians, many of whom are Christian, have been thrust into the middle of a humanitarian crisis after ecological protesters shut down an area known as the Lachin Corridor over allegations of illegal mining and military operations.
  • “This isn’t just an ecological protest, this is part of a much longer plan to eradicate Armenians, or at the very least Armenian independence in the area,” President of The Philos Project Robert Nicholson said.
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Jan. 18 to discuss negotiations that might bring out a peaceful end to the nearly 50-day conflict, according to a statement from the department.

Christian Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh are in the middle of a humanitarian crisis after Azerbaijan ecological protesters shut down all travel in the Lachin Corridor due to claims of illegal mining and military operations, resulting in 120,000 Armenians being cut off from food and medical supplies, according to The Philos Project.

Eco-activists created a blockade on Dec. 12 in the Lachin Corridor that connects Armenia to Artsakh, effectively preventing thousands of Armenians from getting food and medical care, according to Erurasianet. The Philos Project (TPP), a Christian advocacy organization that “supports indigenous Christian communities in the Near East,” sent a letter to President Biden Wednesday asking him to intervene and prevent the next Armenian genocide. (RELATED: War Breaks Out Again Between Azerbaijan And Armenia, Putin Fails To Put Out The Fire)

In the letter, TPP explains that 120,000 Armenians and “nearly 1,700 years of Christian culture” are facing a humanitarian crisis as the protests reach nearly 50 days of preventing any access to the Lachin Corridor. Azerbaijan activists claim that the protest is centered around the illegal mining of natural resources such as gold in the area, as well as accusations that the Armenians are using the Lachin corridor for military purposes that would violate the Trilateral Statement that prohibits the area being used to transport military equipment.

“Though thinly disguised as work of eco-activists protesting mining operations, the blockade’s intent was laid bare by President Aliyev ‘s offer that the road out was open to any Armenians who wished to leave,” the letter reads. “Ethnic cleansing…not eco-activism.”

Robert Nicholson, president of The Philos Project and author of the letter, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the ecological “concerns” were a “front” for Azerbaijan and Turkish governments to force Armenians out of the long-disputed territory.

“This isn’t just an ecological protest, this is part of a much longer plan to eradicate Armenians, or at the very least Armenian independence in the area,” Nicholson said.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been engaged in a conflict spanning more than a century that resulted in the extermination of nearly one million Armenians between 1915 and 1923, according to Yale University. The Ottoman Empire forced many to “march to their deaths in the desert” or convert from Christianity to Islam.

Nicholson also explained that the reason behind the ecological protests is because it plays well to the West and acknowledged religious tensions have also been responsible for some of the conflict. He pointed out that after the Second Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020 between Turkey/Azerbaijan and Armenia, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during the victory parade that the souls of the Ottoman leaders that orchestrated the Armenian genocide would “rejoice.”

“[Enver Pasha] is one of the chief architects of the Turkish genocide of Armenians in the early 20th century,” Nicholson said. “So for Armenians, in this situation, it’s very much all intermingled, yes, there’s a territorial dimension, but the Islamic dimension is there, they’re clever about it, and they say it in different ways, but it’s there.”

A man gestures boarding a bus to depart to the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region after Armenian authorities declared military mobilization. (Photo by STEPAN POGHOSYAN/PHOTOLURE/AFP via Getty Images)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Jan. 18 to discuss negotiations that might bring out a peaceful end to the conflict, according to a statement from the department, but Nicholson pointed out that one phone call to Azerbaijan, who is a U.S. ally, could resolve the issue.

“We have the power to end this with a phone call,” Nicholson said. “If Joe Biden called [Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev] and said ‘you’re done, that’s enough … we will not be providing military aid to you anymore if this keeps going,’ it would end tomorrow.”

A spokesperson for the State Department told the DCNF that the department is “concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation in Nagorno Karabakh” and emphasized that the best “way forward” is by “negotiations.”

“Ongoing obstruction of normal commercial and private travel along the Lachin corridor is causing shortages of food, fuel, and medicine for the residents who depend on the corridor for basic supplies,” the spokesperson said. “We need a solution to this impasse that will ensure the safety and well-being of the population living in this area. We continue to engage to facilitate discussions between Armenia and Azerbaijan; bilaterally, with partners, and through multilateral organizations.”

The situation on the ground is “rough,” according to Nicholson, preventing anyone from going in or out, and Aliyev has threatened to shoot down any aircraft trying to bring in aid, but Azerbaijan claims that the road is open for humanitarian aid. For a few weeks, the activists shut down access to natural gas, leaving thousands of Armenians in the cold in the middle of winter.

Nicholson expressed his hope that President Biden would step in and provide relief for the Armenians, noting that Biden, “like it or not,” was the only president to recognize the Armenian genocide.

“He’s taken some leadership, that’s great, [but] it’s not over, it’s still happening right now,” Nicholson said. “I’m hopeful, I don’t think this is a bridge too far, and I do think a phone call could end this, and because of what he’s done in the past it seems like he cares about the issue and has the will to help Armenians.”

The White House did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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