The Armenian Genocide of 2020: The Fight for Indigenous Armenian Land

a map of Armenia



Trigger warning: genocide, rape, ethnic cleansing, assault

Imagine sitting in your college lecture class and taking notes. Then you receive a call from a family member and it strikes terror in your heart because you know the war that’s going on isn’t a war — it’s a massacre — and it’s taking lives left and right. Imagine this call informs you that your father has died, and only an hour later a similar call informs you that your boyfriend and close cousin have met the same fate. 

This is the heartbreaking reality of too many Armenians right now. Towns and churches are being destroyed, families torn apart, but for what? All for the sake of wiping out the Armenian people. Armenia, which at 4,000 years old is one of the oldest nations in history, is facing the atrocities of genocide and ethnic cleansing once again, and the world is letting it happen.

Nagorno-Karabakh, referred to as Artsakh by Armenians, is a small region to the east of Armenia in the South Caucasus. With an over 99% Armenian demographic, it is filled with ancient Armenian churches and monasteries, not to mention the famous monument titled “We Are Our Mountains,” which is symbolic of Artsakh’s Armenian heritage.

At the collapse of the Soviet Union, however, its land was granted to Azerbaijan by Stalin in order to appease Turkey. Armenia demanded that their land be returned to them, but Azerbaijan refused. War broke out in 1993 and was followed by a Russian-brokered ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has violated this ceasefire countless times since then, and the situation escalated dangerously in the summer of 2020. Azerbaijan, in the midst of a pandemic, made the decision to wage war against Armenia with the help of Turkey.

Today, Azerbaijan’s leaders are committing one war crime after another under the fabricated claim that they are fighting for their territory.

The conflict is rooted deep in the Armenian Genocide of 1915, in which Ottoman Turks conducted the systematic massacring of 1.5 million Armenians. They raped women, murdered children and destroyed cultural artifacts of all sorts to erase the Armenian people and move closer to their goal of pan-Turkism.

To this day, Turkey denies ever committing such acts and spreads anti-Armenian sentiment and propaganda. Its youth is taught to hate Armenians and deny the genocide, as well as to spread the denial and hate beyond their community. It is this denial of genocide that helped enable other genocides like the Holocaust. Hitler himself said, “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

Today, Azerbaijan’s leaders are committing one war crime after another under the fabricated claim that they are fighting for their territory. They have been purposefully targeting civilians, especially women and children, as well as torturing and beheading prisoners. 

They are using illegal tactics such as releasing cluster munitions and denying it despite photo and video evidence and multiple witnesses. They also burned down forests and towns with illegal white phosphorus, causing irreversible ecological damage and killing innocent people. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have bombed a personal protective equipment factory, multiple hospitals, a maternity ward, preschools, churches and thousands of homes. 

If Azerbaijan stopped fighting, there would be peace.

Moreover, Azerbaijan refused to sign the U.N. global coronavirus ceasefire. It is clear that the Azeri goal is not to claim their territory; rather, it is to erase any trace of Armenians. If Azerbaijan stopped fighting, there would be peace. If Armenia stopped fighting, there would be no Armenia.

Azerbaijan and Turkey are spreading false propaganda and accusing Armenia of being the aggressor. How could a small nation with a $634 million military budget be the aggressor against two nations whose combined military budget is approximately $20 billion? 

If that doesn’t spark suspicion, it should be known that both Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Ilham Aliyev, the leaders of Turkey and Azerbaijan, respectively, are openly Armenophobic. Erdogan wants to achieve pan-Turkism, and Armenians, the Indigenous people of the Caucasus region, stand in his way. 

In Reporters Without Borders (RFS)’s press freedom index, Azerbaijan ranks 168th out of 180, with 180 being the least free country. Armenia, on the other hand, falls into 61st place. Azerbaijan’s government is only allowing local and Turkish journalists to cover this conflict, whereas Armenians are welcoming all coverage they can get. Azerbaijan also releases clearly edited and plagiarized photos from previous historical events, among other falsified evidence.

You may be thinking, “How does this affect me?” Quite simply, your tax money is being used to fund ethnic cleansing, genocide, terrorism and environmental destruction. The U.S. grants hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid to both Turkey and Azerbaijan and is the largest exporter of weapons to Turkey. They have been using this money to hire Syrian mercenaries and terrorists to fight their war, which has been confirmed by U.S., Russian and other European authorities, as well by the Syrian mercenaries themselves. 

Due to the U.S.’s relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan as well as Azerbaijan’s media censorship, U.S. media coverage of what has been happening in Artsakh is slim-to-none. We are alone in our fight for existence. Social media has become the strongest tool for spreading awareness of Azerbaijan and Turkey’s violation of humanity.

This is not just a regional issue. Turkey is a global threat— a threat to human rights around the world. If atrocities like this can be committed without any repercussions, then human rights can be destroyed and taken away at any time. That can’t be the world we live in. 

Turkey is a part of NATO, which is a political and military alliance aimed at defending peace and democracy, resolving issues, and preventing conflicts. None of these qualities characterize Turkey — they’re needed in defense against Turkey. If a country such as Turkey can be part of a peace organization while committing genocide, justice and human rights are incredibly threatened for other nations and ethnic groups as well. Eliminating Armenia is the first step in spreading Erdogan’s imperialist pan-Turkic regime, and what could follow it is frightening.

Over the past month, as the situation has grown worse, Armenians around the world have held marches and protests to fight for U.S. action against Azerbaijan, as well as for media coverage that has been dangerously lacking. This has attracted the attention of Azeris and Turks, thus leading to violent incidents and vandalism. 

It has been an incredibly heartbreaking and difficult time as the world has been watching Armenians struggle and doing nothing about it. We need to do better as citizens of the world to be a voice for people whose shouts for justice are being silenced.