Armenian soccer sensation Henrikh Mkhitaryan appeals for international support in Nagorno-Karabakh. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, an Armenian soccer player, has urged world leaders to “stand up against ethnic cleansing” in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Nagorno-Karabakh is a landlocked region in the Caucasus Mountains internationally recognized as belonging to Azerbaijan but is home to approximately 120,000 ethnic Armenians who oppose Azerbaijani rule.
Armenia supports the region’s de facto government, but neither Armenia nor any other nation recognizes it.
The Inter Milan midfielder wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter that his “heart breaks” as he learns more about “the stories of trauma, loss, and severe violations of human rights of thousands of Armenian families who are being forcibly displaced from Nagorno Karabakh and fleeing to Armenia in a mass exodus.”
Just over 47,000 individuals arrived in Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh as of 12.15 p.m. local time (4.15aET) Wednesday, the Armenian prime minister’s spokesperson said.
On Wednesday, an Armenian Red Cross spokesperson told CNN that most new arrivals remain women, children, and the elderly.
According to the most recent data, more than one-third of the region’s Armenians have fled Nagorno-Karabakh for Armenia.
Since December 2022, when Azerbaijan-backed activists established a military checkpoint on the Lachin corridor – the only road connecting the landlocked enclave to Armenia – Nagorno-Karabakh has been blocked.
The blockade prevented importing food, fuel, and medication into Nagorno-Karabakh, causing residents to fear starvation. In August, a former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court stated there is a “reasonable basis to believe that genocide is being committed against Armenians” in the region.
The closure of the Lachin corridor has also restricted access to Nagorno-Karabakh by international organizations and foreign media. The road was only opened to allow residents to evacuate last weekend.
Former Manchester United and Arsenal player Mkhitaryan wrote, “We often look back on those dark pages of indiscriminate killings, ethnic cleansing, and concentration camps with remorse and regret that no one did enough to stop it.”
Additionally, the 34-year-old demanded the “deployment of international monitoring missions” and the “immediate mobilization of emergency humanitarian aid” via the Lachin corridor.
Due to safety concerns, Mkhitaryan missed the 2019 Europa League final in Baku, Azerbaijan, while playing for Arsenal.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been embroiled in a century-long conflict since 1917 when the Russian Empire collapsed.
Before ethnic Armenian Karabakh officials in the enclave consented to a Russia-brokered ceasefire in which they agreed to disband their armed forces, last week’s brief but bloody Azerbaijani offensive killed more than 200 people and injured many more.
President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan stated that Baku restored its sovereignty over the enclave “with an iron fist.”
According to the Karabakh presidency, most Karabakh Armenians do not want to live in Azerbaijan and will move to Armenia.
Azerbaijan has stated that it will protect the rights of those residing in the region. Still, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and international experts have repeatedly expressed concern over the possibility of ethnic cleansing of Armenians in the enclave.