GENEVA – On 21 September at the general debate at the UN Human Rights Council, the World Evangelical Alliance paid tribute to the 45 Armenian Christians massacred in Maragha 30 years ago, an atrocity that was documented by a team from Christian Solidarity International (CSI).
The statement came a week after Azerbaijan launched an unprovoked attack on the territory of the Republic of Armenia, shelling civilian areas and killing hundreds.
Maragha is located in Nagorno Karabakh, an Armenian territory which the Soviet Union placed inside the borders of Azerbaijan, a majority-Muslim and Turkish Soviet republic. When the Soviet Union began to break up in the late 1980s, the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh sought independence. Azerbaijan responded by trying to ethnically cleanse the region of its Armenians.
As the WEA explained in its statement, Maragha, “was captured by Azerbaijani forces on 10 April 1992. Our partner organization Christian Solidarity International arrived in the village one day after the Azerbaijani troops had withdrawn, and they discovered a massacre.
Survivors were in a state of shock; their burnt-out houses were still smouldering. “Forty-five civilians were killed; over 50 taken hostage, and 19 civilians were disappeared.”
After six years of fighting, in which the nearby Republic of Armenia came to the aid of Karabakh Armenians, the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh was paused in 1994. A ceasefire left the region as a de facto independent state, where Armenians lived in safety and freedom.
In September 2020, Azerbaijan and its ally Turkey launched a war against Nagorno Karabakh, killing thousands and driving tens of thousands of Armenians from their homes.
Azerbaijan’s dictator, Ilham Aliyev, has promised to “drive [Armenians] out of our lands!”
Over one million Armenians were murdered by Turkish forces and their Azerbaijani allies between 1915 and 1923, in the first major genocide of the 20th century.
“The massacre at Maragha is a vivid demonstration of the continuing threat of genocide against the Armenian people,” commented Dr. John Eibner, the international president of CSI. “Armenians cannot live safely under Azerbaijani or Turkish rule. To accept Azerbaijani sovereignty over Nagorno Karabakh or any other territory where Armenians live, would be to accept ethnic and religious cleansing.”
“Today we honour the martyrs of Maragha by pledging our solidarity with the Armenian Christians who still live in their homeland, despite the threats surrounding them on every side.”
In a parallel action, Eibner urged the incoming UN High Commission of Human Rights to use his influence within the UN system to encourage recognition of Nagorno Karabakh’s right to self-determination, the suspension of military support to Azerbaijan, and cooperation between the USA, Russia and regional powers in the search for regional peace and stability.
These measures, Eibner added, would improve conditions for the peaceful coexistence of the people of the volatile region regardless of ethnicity or religion.