Many saw the recent conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia as a revival of the dark days of the Armenian Genocide of the early twentieth century, when the Ottoman government pursued the systematic extermination of 1.5 million Armenians, mostly Ottoman citizens within the Ottoman Empire and its successor state, the Republic of Turkey, as well as over 1,000,000 Greek Orthodox Christians. Hundreds of thousands of people were forcibly converted to Islam. To this day, the Turkish government refuses to acknowledge this atrocity as a genocide, saying that it was simply a religious conflict between Christians and Muslims. The similarity between the Armenian Genocide and recent events was also evidenced in Azerbaijan’s targeting of churches.
As we continue to see the Ecumenical Patriarchate and our Mother Church of Constantinople suffering from religious persecution, and note with sorrow the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere today, and pray that this crisis will pass peacefully and that such inhumanity will never again be seen anywhere in the world.
For more ChristianPersecution.com coverage of the persecution of Christians in Azerbaijan, see here.
“From 1915 to 2021, Armenian Communities Suffer,” International Christian Concern, September 12, 2021:
09/12/2021 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Mrs. Alvard was the gardener of the only school in the village of Nor Verinshen in Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian: Artsakh), currently occupied by Azerbaijanis. Her son Robert was on military duty when the war started in late September of 2020. While Robert fought on the frontline against Azerbaijani-Turkish aggression for 44 days, Mrs. Alvard moved with her daughter-in-law, Aregnazan, and six young grandchildren to Armenian territory. This current displacement is the second during her lifetime, with the first was in the late 1980s before the first Artsakh war.
In the beginning, relatives welcomed the family and provided their two-bedroom condo to stay in, along with other displaced family members, totaling 21 people. At that time everyone thought it was temporary, the war will finish in a few days or weeks, and shortly they will move back home. Mrs. Alvard naively recalls counting down the days to get back to her beautiful green garden at peak harvest season.
November 10’s agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan that ended the war broke all the hopes of family return home permanently. A few days before handing over their district to Azerbaijanis (originally scheduled for November 15, but surrendered on November 25), Aregnazan went back to the village with her husband’s sister where she first visited the graves of her father and sister in the cemetery, likely for the very last time. “I could not bring much of the household items, but I didn’t want to leave the puppy, the ducks, and the chickens behind. I put all of them together in a big rabbit cage and brought them with me,” Aregnazan said.
36-year-old Aregnazan’s voice trembled as she recalled her final journey from Artsakh to Armenia. Crying and unable to hide her tears she remembered, “it looked like the 1915 deportation during the Armenian Genocide with only one difference – people were moving by vehicles not walking. The roads were blocked by traffic. There were cars that were damaged on the roads. The women, with their children in their arms, were waiting in that cold weather outside until the cars were repaired. Some cars were totally unloaded their cargo on road to be repaired. It was chaos, a real nightmare.”
“It looked like the 1915 deportation during the Armenian Genocide with only one difference – people were moving by vehicles not walking. The roads were blocked by traffic. There were cars that were damaged on the roads. The women, with their children in their arms, were waiting in that cold weather outside until the cars were repaired. Some cars were totally unloaded their cargo on road to be repaired. It was chaos, a real nightmare.”
After 10 months of moving from place to place, the family finally bought their own house with small agricultural land and fruit trees in one of the villages. The Armenian community in the Netherlands and a family from the U.S. contributed the difference sum in addition to Aregnazan and Robert’s savings.
There is still a lot of work to be done to renovate the house. To accommodate their space restrictions, part of the living room has curtains closing off a portion for the children’s room. Their roof is in desperate need of repair. In the future, the adjacent garage could be turned into rooms. They lack several household appliances and electronics, but Aregnazan does not complain. She is happy to have their own place. The family is optimistic and ready to start their new life from scratch….