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Caroline Cox and John Eibner

Ethnic Cleansing in Progress: War in Nagorno Karabakh


[Contents] [Preface] [Introduction] [Basic Facts] [A Conflict of Civilizations] [The Genocide] [The Pincers of Pan-Turkism] [Soviet Rule] [The Karabakh Question Revived] [Operation Ring] [The Post-Soviet Conflict] [The Characteristics of the People of Nagorno Karabakh] [The Prognosis: Continuing Bloodshed] [Conclusions] [Recommendations]


The Prognosis: Continuing Bloodshed

 

Given the escalation of the military offensive against the people of Nagorno Karabakh; given the recent attempts by the Armenians to retake villages lost in the Azerbaijani offensive last year so that they can rehouse some of their refugees; and given the current fear that the Azeri-Turks are preparing for a new, major offensive in the spring, it appears that the bloodshed is likely to continue unabated.

The Armenians of Karabakh repeatedly affirm that they will not leave their native land. The men at the frontline - typically fanners, grandfathers, boys and young students, or professionals such as doctors and lawyers - consistently repeat that they do not wish to fight. But they ask: "What can we do? We have to defend our families, our homes, our homeland and our heritage." They claim they will fight to the last man - and woman. They explain their ability to defend their land against such superior odds in terms of differential motivation. They are fighting for everything they believe in - and for survival. They argue that the Azerbaijani troops and the mercenary soldiers fighting for them do not have the same conviction. One Karabakh commander alleged that the Azerbaijani commanders tend to put conscript members of their ethnic minority groups, such as Les-ghins, Tallish and Kurds, in the front line during an offensive. This serves two purposes; if they are killed, this reduces the 'nationalist elements' within Azerbaijan; if they fight well, this reduces the number of Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh. The same commander also alleged that the Azerbaijani authorities do not take such trouble to recover the bodies of the slain ethnic minorities as they take to bring back Azeri-Turk dead.

We are not in a position to corroborate these statements, although the commander did offer to show a CSI delegation the evidence of passports taken from corpses, and what he described as "the killing fields", where non-Azeri-Turk dead had been left uncollected.

However, what is incontrovertible is that both sides have suffered massive losses in dead and wounded. In February 1991, the commander of Armenian forces in Nagorno Karabakh, Serge Sarkisian, estimated that, since the Azerbaijani offensive in June 1992, the Azerbaijani armed forces have suffered 4,500 killed and 18-20,000 wounded; during the same period, the Azerbaijani forces had lost 12 fighter-bombers, 10 helicopters and 128 tanks, some of which were captured by the Armenians of Karabakh. Figures for casualties incurred by the Armenians were not given. But they have also suffered many dead and wounded, including high levels of civilian casualties. And a high price of a different kind is still being paid by refugees from both communities in Nagorno Karabakh, Azeri-Turk refugees who have fled their homes and the Armenian deportees and refugees from the Shaumyan and Mardakert districts, mostly now living in unavoidably harsh conditions in Armenia.

 

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