Luis Moreno Ocampo, who served as the first Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) from 2003 to 2012, said there is “an ongoing genocide” against 120,000 Armenians living in the Azerbaijani-occupied region of Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh.
The former chief prosecutor called for the UN Security Council to bring the matter before the international tribunal in his report, published on August 8, into the situation in the landlocked region between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
According to Ocampo, the blockade of the Lachin Corridor by the Azerbaijani security forces impedes access to any food, medical supplies and other essentials for the local population.
Azerbaijan is thereby “Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction,” he said or, in other words, organising a genocide as described in Article II of the Genocide Convention.
“There are no crematories, and there are no machete attacks. Starvation is the invisible genocide weapon,” Ocampo said. “Without immediate dramatic change, this group of Armenians will be destroyed in a few weeks.”
My contribution: The blockade of the Lachin Corridor by the Azerbaijani security forces is a Genocide against the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh. #stopArmenianGenocide2023
— Luis Moreno Ocampo (@MorenoOcampo1) August 8, 2023
He pointed out that starvation is an often-used method to suppress groups and that it had been used against Armenians in the past, in 1915.
The International Court of Justice, at the request of Armenia, has already analysed the Lachin Corridor blockade. The court’s preliminary findings considered it “plausible” that the corridor blockade produced “a real and imminent risk” to the “health and life” of ethnic “Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh.”
Nagorno-Karabakh, known as Artsakh by Armenians, has been under a blockade imposed by Azerbaijani authorities since December 2022.
Azerbaijan insists that it is trying to prevent the transport of weapons into the enclave through the Lachin Corridor – a mountain pass that links Nagorno-Karabakh with mainland Armenia and which was the enclave’s last remaining connection with the outside world.
Hikmet Hajiyev, Head of Foreign Policy Affairs Department in Azerbaijan, said the ICC report was “anti-Azerbaijani” and “contains unsubstantiated allegations and accusations”.
“It is biased and distorts the real situation on the ground and represents serious factual, legal and substantive errors,” Hajiyev told news organisation AP.
He also targeted Ocampo, pointing to an investigation by the French online newspaper MediaPart that claims the former ICC chief managed companies based in some of the most notorious tax havens in the world because his salary at the ICC “was not enough”.
Nagorno-Karabakh is a small enclave with an ethnic Armenian population situated within Azerbaijan. It is administered by the Republic of Artsakh, which lacks official recognition and receives support from leaders based in the Armenian capital of Yerevan.
It was established in the early 1990s as Armenian forces occupied the region following the initial Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
In 2020, Azerbaijani military forces launched a counteroffensive, effectively encircling the ethnically Armenian territory.
Authorities in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku maintain that the region rightfully belongs to them and its residents are Azerbaijani citizens. They are resolute in their refusal to legitimise the Armenian leadership within Nagorno-Karabakh.
On July 27, Armenia sent a humanitarian convoy of 19 trucks containing 400 tons of essential goods to Nagorno-Karabakh. Baku stopped that delivery at the Lachin Corridor checkpoint, claiming it was a “provocation” by Armenia.
In an independent expert opinion, former Chief Prosecutor of the @IntlCrimCourt, Luis Moreno Ocampo concludes that the Lachin blockade constitutes genocide under Article II(c) of the Genocide Convention.
— Center for Truth and Justice (@CFTJustice) August 8, 2023