STEPANAKERT, JUNE 5, ARTSAKHPRESS: The letter is presented below:
”To the people of the Republic of Artsakh, for whom I have profound affection and deep respect.
‘I write to you today because 120,000 innocent civilians face an existential crisis. Conditions are now present for genocide against the Armenian Christians of Artsakh.
Your people have suffered, and continue to suffer, the most serious international crimes. I have personally witnessed the results of massacres, atrocities and forced displacement.
Yet the world has chosen to turn a deaf ear to your suffering. Even your closest international allies have either not paid attention to, or ignored, the warning signs of genocide.
During this darkest hour, I stand in solidarity with the Armenians of Artsakh. I have great confidence in your ability to overcome this crisis with courage, fortitude, sacrifice and love – not only will you survive but you will create beauty from the ashes of destruction.
I am told that I have visited the Republic of Artsakh 88 times since 1990. I have been privileged to experience the love of your history and your rich culture of music, dance and art – all within the context of the breathtaking beauty of your land’s rugged mountains, thick forests, fertile valleys and crystal rivers. I have been blessed to meet a host of wonderful people, many the direct descendants of victims of the Great Genocide in Anatolia, or themselves victims of anti Armenian pogroms in Sumgait and Baku, and ethnic-religious cleansing in Artsakh.
I am struck by the unanimity with which they share a simple common goal: it is to live in peace, dignity and security in their own historic land. This longing continues to fill my heart. I always carry with me the memory of a young woman I met in a hospital in Martakert in 1992, after I had visited the village of Maragha, which had just been subjected to a massacre inflicted by Azerbaijan.
Whilst in the remains of the village, I saw corpses of civilians decapitated by Azerbaijani militants; vertebrae still on the ground; people’s blood still smeared on walls; homes that had been set alight were still smoldering. The day I met this woman, she was in agony over the deaths of her son and fourteen of her relatives who had been killed in the 2 massacre in Maragha. I wept with her. There are no words for a time like that. But when she stopped weeping, I asked her if she had a message she would like to share with the world. She replied, “All I want to say is thank you to those people who have not forgotten us in these terrible days.”
I do not think “thank you” are the words that would have come to my mind on the day I had seen so many of my family killed in such horrific circumstances. That is the dignity of the Armenian people. If I could speak to this woman today, I would tell her: “We love you and we have not forgotten you, even as the dark cloud of the Armenian Genocide, once again, looms over the mountains of your land.” During the previous war, I met an Armenian man who had seen the body of a five-year-old Armenian girl, cut in two, hanging from the branch of a tree. He wept with horror and vowed revenge.
Later, when his section of the Karabakh army captured villages, he could not bring himself to harm an Azerbaijani child. When this story was told at a dinner – in the Armenian style of making speeches – a journalist commended the man for his humanity and dignity. To which he replied: “Dignity is a crown of thorns.” The people of Artsakh have been wearing your crown of thorns with inspirational courage and dignity. I have never been as concerned about Artsakh’s future as I am today.