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Azeri blockade highlights Genocide events

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The Armenian community of Cyprus commemorates the 108th anniversary of the Genocide by Ottoman Turks with events in all towns, held under the spotlight of the continued Azeri blockade of Artsakh.

Representative Vartkes Mahdessian and Greens president Charalambos Theopemptou submitted a resolution to parliament “condemning the human consequences of excluding the Armenian civilian population in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh).”

The motion, drafted in collaboration with the Armenian National Committee of Cyprus, was passed unanimously.

In his address to the House plenary session, Mahdessian said that from 1915 to 1923, the Ottoman Empire committed inconceivable crimes; more than 1.5 million innocent Armenians were massacred, murdered, or deported and were led to forced death marches to the inhospitable Der Zor desert in Syria.

“Unfortunately, an indirect genocide continues in the Caucasus and, more specifically, in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh).

As of December 13, with Turkey’s support, Azerbaijan has isolated the Lachin Corridor, which links Armenia to Artsakh, resulting in its inhabitants becoming hostages to the Azeris for 114 days.

“While the international community is ever so vocal about Russia’s war and its support to Ukraine, while even providing military equipment, it remains content with a few stray words on the blatant violation of the human rights of the Armenians and Azeri aggression in the broader Caucasus region.”

Mahdessian said that not all developments are negative.

“In February, yet another country, Mexico, recognised the Armenian Genocide, while just a few days ago, the Municipality of Haifa in Israel recognised the Genocide and dedicated a city square to it.”

The Armenian Representative said that due to the massacres and persecutions, “about 800,000 refugees were scattered across every corner of the Earth, thus shaping the Armenian Diaspora.

Overcoming immense financial and other difficulties, they managed to build a new life in their adopted homelands, contributing to the local commerce, sports, scouting, the sciences, education, arts and culture.

“Amongst these new homelands was Cyprus, which welcomed more than 9,000 Armenian refugees, who arrived mainly in Larnaca.

“Among the hundreds of surviving families who found a second chance on our island was also my own, something for which I will eternally be grateful.”

Mahdessian said throughout history, Cyprus and Armenia had remained silent partners, while Cyprus’ support to the Armenian people has been invaluable.

With Resolution 36 of the House in 1975, the Republic of Cyprus recognised the Armenian Genocide, the first country to do so in Europe and the second in the world.

In 2015 it criminalised its denial with Law 45 (I), with the commercial and geo-strategic alliance of Cyprus and Armenia always strengthening.

Capitol Hill

US Congress marked the Armenian Genocide by warning of a second genocide against Artsakh, with legislators raising alarms over Azerbaijan’s ethnic cleansing of indigenous Artsakh Armenians.

Senators and Representatives joined on Capitol Hill to warn against Azerbaijan’s ongoing attempts to ethnically cleanse the 120,000 Christian Armenians living in freedom in their indigenous Artsakh homeland.

“The message today from Capitol Hill to President Biden is, very simply: ‘Prevent a second Armenian Genocide; stop sending American arms and aid to Azerbaijan’,” said Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Executive Director Aram Hamparian.

“President Biden cannot credibly condemn the Armenian Genocide while arming and abetting the racist, oil-rich dictatorship hell-bent on completing this very crime.”

Congressional Armenian Caucus founding Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) praised the Armenian American community’s persistence in securing Congressional and then Presidential recognition of the Armenian Genocide in 2019 and 2021.

“What we see happening in Artsakh, both with the attack, the aggression that took place a couple of years ago, and the cutting off of the Lachin Corridor, in my opinion, is nothing more a continuation of the genocide,” stated Pallone.

“We know the people in Artsakh are suffering, not having enough food, not having medical supplies. To me, that sounds like genocide, but we’re not going to allow it to happen”.

Opposed to aid

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ), whose wife Nadine’s grandfather was killed during the Armenian Genocide, discussed the “acute humanitarian crisis” in Artsakh resulting from Azerbaijan’s blockade, their torture and murder of POWs, and aggression against Armenia and Artsakh.

“I’m strongly opposed to having any aid go to a fighting force known for war crimes and aggression against a neighbour state.

“We should not be in bed with governments like Azerbaijan. It’s inexcusable. It’s morally repugnant. It’s got to stop.”

He said US security assistance to Azerbaijan “not only damages American national security interests, but it also flies in the face of our duty to honour the victims and survivors of the Armenian Genocide, and our duty to ensure that history does not repeat itself again.”

The Genocide commemorations in Cyprus, marking the anniversary on April 24, include church services in Nicosia, Larnaca and Limassol, blood donation at the Nareg school in Nicosia at 3 pm on Saturday, and a march on Sunday, starting from the centre of town, leading to the friendship park at the crossroads of Limassol Avenue and Armenia street.

From there, the marchers, including Strovolos Mayor Andreas Papacharalambous, will head to the Genocide memorial within the school grounds, where a ceremony will be held at 7.30 pm with representatives of all political parties.