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03/18/2021 United States (International Christian Concern) – Yesterday, International Christian Concern (ICC) hosted an event with the Armenian Assembly of America highlighting the recent conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian: Artsakh) and the religious freedom problems still facing Armenian Christians.  The aim of the event was to create more awareness about the broader implications of the conflict beyond a mere fight for territory, and inform policymakers about the persisting issues in the region.

The event featured remarks from a distinguished panel comprised of a mix of government and non-governmental actors. The Permanent Representative of Nagorno-Karabakh to the United States, Robert Avetisyan, provided information and visual evidence of the damage from Azerbaijani aggression, while also providing policy suggestions from the perspective of an Artsakh leader.

Permanent Representative Avetisyan was followed by Baroness Caroline Cox, a British humanitarian and former member of the House of Lords, who recounted her visits to Artsakh and the destruction she witnessed. Baroness Cox, like Avetisyan, especially made note of the demolition done to Christian cultural heritage sites by Azerbaijani troops and Turkish-paid Syrian mercenaries.

Finally, Mariam Khaloyan, the Director of Congressional Relations at the Armenian Assembly of America, shared pictures from her visit to Artsakh after the conflict, and provided insight into some of the work the Assembly is doing with ICC on these issues in D.C.

One consistent theme throughout the presentations was the immediate issue of Armenian prisoners of war (POWs) still held by Azerbaijan. Although Azerbaijan denies that it continues to detain any POWs, recent estimates suggest that around 200 Armenian soldiers and civilians are still held captive. Last week, ICC shared the story of Maral Najarian, a Lebanese-Armenian woman recently released from an Azerbaijani prison after being captured in Artsakh. Though Najarian is now free from Azerbaijani captivity, many remain imprisoned under brutal conditions in Azerbaijani prisons.

ICC is currently working to push a recently introduced resolution on the issue through the House of Representatives, and is still running a petition calling for the European Court of Human Rights to pressure Azerbaijan for the release of the POWs.

Armenian Christians still face many threats in the region with the aggressive Pan-Turkic posturing of Turkey and Azerbaijan, as well as the existence of the harmful terrorist group, the Grey Wolves. Policymakers around the world must act soon to protect the safety of ethnic Armenian Christians and promote religious freedom in the region.

If you would like to access a recording of the event, you may find it using this link.

For interviews please contact Alison Garcia: [email protected].