In open letter to President Trump, human rights group calls for U.S. to suspend military aid to Azerbaijan and Turkey
ZURICH – Christian Solidarity International, a human rights NGO campaigning for religious freedom and human dignity, today condemned the joint Turkish-Azerbaijani attack on Nagorno-Karabakh, a tiny region in the Caucuses inhabited by 150,000 Christian Armenians. CSI’s International President, Dr. John Eibner, labeled the assault “a renewed attempt to destroy one of the world’s oldest Christian communities,” which “risks setting off a new regional war.”
In an open letter to U.S. President Donald Trump, Eibner thanked Trump for calling for an end to the offensive in a joint communiqué with the presidents of France and Russia issued on Thursday. Eibner urged the president to go farther, and use the United States’ “considerable leverage” with Turkey, Azerbaijan and allied Syrian jihadists to “bring peace, stability and security for all the inhabitants of this turbulent region, regardless of ethnicity or religion.”
Azerbaijan launched a major attack on Nagorno Karabakh on Sunday, 27 September. Islamist Turkey, openly pursing its declared policy of “neo-Ottomanism,” has provided crucial support for the offensive, including bringing thousands of jihadists from the battlefield in Syria to fight against Christians in Nagorno Karabakh. Thousands of Armenians and Azerbaijanis have been displaced by the fighting, and reports of civilian casualties are on the rise.
Nagorno Karabakh, known to Armenians as “Artsakh,” is part of the historic homeland of the Armenian people. The Soviet Union placed the Armenian-majority region within the boundaries of Azerbaijan in the 1920s, when Azerbaijan and Armenia were both under Soviet rule. When the two countries became independent after the Soviet Union’s collapse, Azerbaijani forces began a campaign to cleanse Nagorno Karabakh of its Armenian population, leading to war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The war was suspended in 1994 with a fragile ceasefire and with Nagorno-Karabakh as de facto Armenian-ruled republic.
Eibner reminded President Trump that Armenian Christians were the victims of a genocide in Turkey from 1915-1923, that Azerbaijan had tried to cleanse Nagorno Karabakh of Armenians in the 1990s, and that Turkish-backed jihadists had targeted Armenians in Aleppo, Syria, for kidnapping and murder in the recent war, leading most of Aleppo’s Armenians – largely descendants of Armenian Genocide survivors – to flee.
“This genocide of Armenians in installments must now come to an end,” Eibner said.
Eibner urged Trump to take three steps in concert with Russia and France: 1) to “suspend all lethal and non-lethal military aid to all three elements of the anti-Armenian military coalition” – Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Syrian jihadists; 2) to “provide security guarantees for the existentially threatened people of the region,” and 3) to “produce a plan of economic support and development for Nagorno Karabakh,” “modelled on the program implemented by your administration in Iraq for Christians and other minority communities victimized by the Islamic State.”
Read Dr. Eibner’s letter to President Trump