OPED: 100,000 Indigenous Armenian Refugees Exiled After Azerbaijan Terror

By Vache Kechichian | Wednesday, 29 November 2023

For the Armenian nation, the term genocide is a word that sounds all too familiar.

The decades-long conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan continues to escalate as Azerbaijan illegally occupies the Nagorno-Karabakh region. With the self-declared independent state’s population consisting of over 99 percent ethnic Christian Armenians, the terror perpetrated by the Azeri military has resulted in over 100,000 Armenian civilians fleeing from their homes and seeking refuge in the Republic of Armenia.

The land’s complicated history had been Armenian soil for multiple millennia, before being occupied by Azerbaijan during the Soviet Union era. However, the autonomous region soon declared its independence on September 2nd, 1991, with its own military and government structures.

Executive Director at the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU), Michael Kolokossian said, “The current situation is extremely concerning”.

“Azerbaijan launched a 44 days of war crimes occupying 70 percent of the Republic of Artsakh. And post that war held the 120,000 population that remained there under siege for 10 months… living without food, water, and basic humanitarian supplies”.

This is not the first time that Azerbaijan has been reported on commencing an illegal military invasion on the undisputed territory. On September 27th, 2020, Azerbaijan broke the United Nation’s ceasefire declaration and initiated dozens of humanitarian war crimes including targeted attacks on civilian populated areas, torturing Armenian soldiers, as well as targeting churches, kindergartens, and hospitals. Many of the gross terrors perpetrated by the Azeri soldiers were filmed and posted online.

To celebrate their racial crimes, the nation’s dictator, Ilham Aliyev, opened “Trophy Park” in April 2021, a barbaric theme park which holds on display hundreds of helmets belonging to deceased Armenian soldiers, as well as a range of wax figures in disturbing poses, while wearing Armenian military uniform.

Today, ethnic Armenians around the world call for help as they are forced to watch the destruction of their beloved nation from afar.

“If the world doesn’t intervene now, then what’s stopping the next country from doing the same thing? By being silent, the world is saying that it’s okay for these people to die”, Tamara Kechichian said, a local Armenian-Australian.

However, the Australian government have begun taking initial steps in aiding the situation. The Parliament accepted the ANC-AU’s request to provide $500,000 in federal funding to assist with rebuilding the lives of the displaced refugees, as a result of Azerbaijan’s aggression.

“I think what we expect from the Australian government is to see an increase in that aid as these people have lost everything, and it’s going to take a long time to help rebuild their lives. It’s definitely a commendable step from our government but it’s a first step”, Mr Kolokossian said.

Despite this humanitarian aid, the Australian government is yet to condemn Azerbaijan and implement sanctions for their 24-hour military assault. Furthermore, the parliament is yet to urge Azerbaijan to ensure the right of return of all Armenian refugees who have left their homes during the attack. The protection of cultural and religious artifacts is yet to be ensured as well.

This crisis is “heartbreaking for Australian-Armenians, many of whom are descendants of direct survivors of the Armenian genocide”.

Mr Kolokossian refers to the 1915 Armenian genocide, where over 1.5 million Christian Armenians were systematically killed at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, now Turkey, who continue to deny the atrocities to this day.



Michael Kolokossian: “The biggest misconception and misinformation that is spread amongst the international community is that Armenians will be safe living under Azerbaijan, and—and that is just not true.”