Davit Babayan, spokesman of President Bako Sahakian Karabakh, yesterday expressed its willingness to grant asylum to Yezidis who were forced to flee their homes in parts of northern Iraq controlled by the Islamic state.
Davit Babayan mentioned the Yezidis as “brothers” faced genocide at the hands of Sunni insurgent groups.
“The Armenian people can not be indifferent to what is currently done for Yazidis,” said Babayan. “The Yezidis are the only people who have become an integral part of the Armenian people.”
Nagorno-Karabakh is ready for Yazidi refugees. “Artsakh has many socio-economic problems,” he said, using the traditional name of Karabakh. “But if there are such requests we, as a state committed to democratic and humanitarian standards, we try to help as many people as we can.”
Asked whether the Karabakh Armenians are willing to resettle Iraqi Yezidis in the territories under their control, Babayan said: “If such requests, we will see how we can give them.”
Officials in Armenia, home to a large community of Yezidis were more cautious. According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, no Iraqi Yezidi have fled or have sought asylum in the country so far.
Boris Murazi, a Yezidi activist, confirmed that. He argued that going in Armenia is not easy for his family because they can not receive Armenian visas at the border and have to make a long journey through Turkey and Iran and Georgia. In the words of Murazi, Iraqi Yazidis stayed away from Armenia so far also because of the “delay” of the reaction from the Armenian government to their suffering.
It was only on Monday that President Serzh Sargsyan expressed deep concern about the massacres and deportations of Iraqi Yezidis.
“Better late than never,” said Murazi. “It is good that the authorities have realized that they can not be indifferent to the fate not only of the Yazidi, but also citizens of Armenia who demanded that authorities cease to be indifferent.”
Indeed, a growing number of Armenians and the media asking Yerevan to take a more proactive civic activists. Several activists have set up a Facebook group to raise funds for loans to spend Iraqi Yezidis in Armenia.
“Armenia should open its borders to refugees and Yezidis accept the largest possible number of them,” said Bayandur Poghosian, member of the “Help your brothers Yezidis.” Poghosian acknowledged that the Armenian government is short of money to be able to help them financially. That is why, he says, activists are asking for private donations.