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Shocking images of civilians fleeing Nagorno-Karabakh – 3,000 years of Armenian life being extinguished

Shocking images of Armenians fleeing Nagorno-Karabakh as the murderous Azerbaijani army takes control of the mountainous enclave have emerged on social media today.

Images show the queues of cars, all heading in one direction, attempting to leave Stepanakert, the capital of ethnically and historically Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh, for the Republic of Armenia as Baku consolidates its rule over the region.

More than 3,000 people have so far crossed into Armenia from the enclave, which is home to a majority of some 120,000 ethnic Armenians. They left after the government in Yerevan announced plans to move those made homeless by Azerbaijan’s aggression.

Yerevan also warned that those who stayed could face ethnic cleansing.

Azerbaijan has said it wants to re-integrate the ethnic Armenians as “equal citizens” but the regime of Ilham Aliyev continues with its grotesque dehumanisation of Armenians.

Some of the refugees who arrived in the city of Goris on Sunday, who expressed their sadness.

“I gave my whole life to my homeland,” said one man. “It would be better if they killed me than this.”

A woman, Veronica, said that this was the second time she had become a refugee. The first time was during the conflict in 2020.

In the nearby village of Kornidzor, refugees who were being processed said they did not believe they could be safe under Azerbaijani rule and did not expect ever to be able to return home.

Taking my last footages in Stepanakert…

After an hour I’ll say goodbye… pic.twitter.com/2FkplWofTn

— Marut Vanyan (@marutvanian) September 25, 2023

Hurts to see this… pic.twitter.com/yIMnm3lE8s

— Marut Vanyan (@marutvanian) September 25, 2023

The Armenian government said in a statement on Sunday that hundreds of the refugees had already been provided with government-funded housing.

But it has not released a clear plan of how it could cope with an influx of people. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced last week that plans were in place to look after up to 40,000 refugees.

Armenia has repeatedly said a mass exodus from the region would be the fault of the Azerbaijani authorities.

#Stepanakert now.#Artsakh residents are being displaced. pic.twitter.com/IDS8xbsNXB

— Ani Abaghyan (@abaghyan_a) September 25, 2023

In the face of heavy exodus… pic.twitter.com/Ppo0nUPD2u

— Siranush Sargsyan (@SiranushSargsy1) September 25, 2023

In a TV address on Sunday, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said many inside the enclave would “see expulsion from the homeland as the only way out” unless Azerbaijan provided “real living conditions” and “effective mechanisms of protection against ethnic cleansing”.

He repeated that his government was prepared to “lovingly welcome our brothers and sisters”.

But David Babayan, an adviser to Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian leader Samvel Shahramanyan, told Reuters he expected almost everyone to leave.

His people “do not want to live as part of Azerbaijan – 99.9% prefer to leave our historic lands”, he said.

“The fate of our poor people will go down in history as a disgrace and a shame for the Armenian people and for the whole civilised world,” he told Reuters. “Those responsible for our fate will one day have to answer before God for their sins.”

painful reality of people being uprooted from their homes, their lives disrupted, and their futures uncertain pic.twitter.com/IGN6yRyfZZ

— Siranush Sargsyan (@SiranushSargsy1) September 25, 2023

For years, walking through the residential streets of Stepanakert would unveil views of laundry lines drawn back and forth in harmony.

The residents of these still-standing buildings either have left or will soon leave. These famous lines of laundry will be taken down forever. pic.twitter.com/tluyS3MHEU

— Siranush Sargsyan (@SiranushSargsy1) September 25, 2023

In his TV address, the Armenian prime minister also hinted that Russia had not come to its defence in the conflict.

His comments echoed criticism that Moscow had effectively handed Nagorno-Karabakh over to Azerbaijan – a charge Russia’s foreign minister has described as “ludicrous”.

“Yerevan and Baku actually did settle the situation,” Sergei Lavrov told the UN General Assembly. “Time has come for mutual trust-building.”

No words((( pic.twitter.com/dLoi4uBGeO

— Siranush Sargsyan (@SiranushSargsy1) September 25, 2023

“People are desperately trying to find fuel while others are waiting for the bus to leave pic.twitter.com/mPFDI4Zn4J

— Siranush Sargsyan (@SiranushSargsy1) September 25, 2023

Meanwhile, more than 140 people have been arrested in Yerevan on Monday following the latest anti-government protests, according to local media quoting the country’s interior ministry.

The Tass news agency said special forces had begun detaining demonstrators who blocked roads in Yerevan.

Police were also stationed outside the main government building, which houses the prime minister’s offices and which demonstrators have been trying to break into.

Protests first broke out last week over the government’s handling of the crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Pashinyan has been accused of granting too many concessions to Aliyev and there are calls for his resignation.

The Office of the Human Rights Defender continues to collect the evidences of the civilian structure. These residential houses in Berqadzor of the Askeran region were targeted and destroyed by the Azerbaijani military forces during the attack on September 19, 2023. pic.twitter.com/mzbYTIVs3X

— Artsakh / Nagorno-Karabakh Human Rights Ombudsman (@ArtsakhOmbuds) September 24, 2023

Thousands of displaced people are now waiting for their evacuation to Armenia. Many of them simply have nowhere to stay, so they have to wait for their turn in the streets of Stepanakert. pic.twitter.com/9QQdGGMZcU

— Artsakh / Nagorno-Karabakh Human Rights Ombudsman (@ArtsakhOmbuds) September 25, 2023

Previously, Bishop Mouradian told OSV News that “Armenians have been living on that land (Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh) for more than 3,000 years.” He said, “There are a lot of churches there from the fourth, eighth, 10th centuries. It’s not a new thing for Armenians.”

Armenia was the first nation to officially adopt Christianity in 301, having been evangelized by the Apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew between A.D. 40 and 60.

Armenia’s Kornidzor village is the first point after crossing the Lachin Corridor for this first groups of Armenian refugees. These people lost their homes during the recent military offensive by the Azerbaijani military.

Images by Yana Avanesyan.

READ MORE: WHAT NOW FOR CYPRUS AFTER NAGORNO-KARABAKH?

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