Over 100 Academics at British universities have signed a statement in support of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia following Azerbaijan’s invasion on 19 September.
In the weeks since September 19th, 2023, more than 100 academics from British universities have united to address the unfolding events in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) and the British response to the ensuing humanitarian crisis. In this rapidly evolving situation, we at the Armenian Institute find it imperative to lend our voices and establish this statement as a testament to our concerns. It is our firm belief that we cannot allow the fate of Nagorno-Karabakh and the actions of the Azerbaijani state to fade unnoticed from the British public and political consciousness.
The media has been inundated with poignant images of displaced Armenian individuals, compelled to abandon their homes and embark on perilous journeys to the Republic of Armenia. In a matter of days since September 19th, 2023, over two-thirds of Nagorno-Karabakh’s population has sought refuge in Armenia. As winter draws near, their predicament becomes increasingly precarious. Regrettably, it appears highly unlikely that any Armenians will be able to remain in Nagorno-Karabakh under Azerbaijani rule. Given Azerbaijan’s historical track record of vilification and violence, the proposed ‘reintegration’ of the region is a source of considerable fear for those affected. Beyond Nagorno-Karabakh, the expansionist ambitions of the Azerbaijani state give rise to legitimate concerns about Armenia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The heart-wrenching images of human suffering featured in British media outlets are a necessary but insufficient response. This statement serves as a call to attention regarding systemic shortcomings in both the British media and government’s response to the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis. Instances where the indigenous population of the region is labelled as ‘separatists’, for example, reveal a profound lack of comprehension of the broader context and history. The habit of accepting the Azerbaijani government’s statements without scrutinising the grim realities of repression and violence persists.
This statement represents more than a mere expression of solidarity with the people of Nagorno- Karabakh and all those adversely impacted by the recent violence and suffering. It is an earnest appeal to the UK government and civil society to actively contribute to safeguarding the well-being of the vulnerable Artsakhi minority. Armenia, a young democracy, is in an exceedingly fragile position as it confronts this humanitarian catastrophe. While humanitarian aid is undeniably crucial, it must not replace the need for in-depth critical analysis and substantial political engagement.
26th September 2023
As British academics we are dismayed and concerned about the silence in the United
Kingdom on the humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh, also known to Armenians as
For nine months, this enclave’s 120,000 Armenians lived under siege. The only ro ad linking
Nagorno-Karabakh to the Republic of Armenia, the Lachin Corridor, has been under an illegal
blockade imposed by the government of Azerbaijan. Deprived of food,medicine, and fuel,
the population were brought to the brink of starvation. Access by humanitarian agencies,
including the International Committee of the Red Cross, was severely restricted.
The UN, international institutions, and human rights organisations have been raising warnings
for months about the situation. Writing in The Telegraph on 4
th September, the former
Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams warned that ‘Armenians are facing genocide in
Nagorno-Karabakh. The world must not sit idly by’. The former chief Prosecutor of the
International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno Ocampo, accused the Azerbaijani government of
genocide, saying ‘we cannot accept a new Armenian genocidein 2023’ in a 28-page report
on the Lachin corridor blockade, published on 7 August.
Yet, beyond scant reports, there has been almost no media coverage of this humanitarian
crisis in the British press during these nine months.
On September 19th, with the tacit approval of Russia and the unqualified support of our
NATO ally, Turkey, the world watched Azerbaijan bomb Nagorno-Karabakh, as it had in2020.
After the loss of scores of lives, the authorities of the isolated enclave had no option but to
submit to a ceasefire agreement brokered by Russian ‘peacekeepers’ the following day.
Information from the region is tightly controlled by Azerbaijan, and much about the evolving
situation remains opaque. Forcefully displaced from their homes, men, women and children
remain without food, shelter or medical supplies. Azerbaijan’s official statements on
‘reintegration’ of these Armenians into Azerbaijan obfuscate a long
tradition of armenophobic racism and cultural-historic erasure, promoted by the Aliyevregime
over decades. After using starvation as a weapon for nine months and then waging war, the
Azerbaijani state’s statements cannot be accepted at face value.
The Aliyev regime’s repression of dissent among its own citizens is coupled with a record
of violent rhetoric and action which has sought to erase Karabakh’s Armenian past and deny
the right of Armenians to exist in the region: the longstanding, state – orchestrated
dehumanisation gives ample indication of what their ‘reintegration ’ may mean in reality.
The record of atrocities committed by Azerbaijani troops during and since the war in 2020
also gives good cause to fear for any Armenians who might remain in Karabakh. As we
write, 13,000 of them have already been ‘evacuated’ or sought safetyin the Republic of
Armenia in fear of their future security.
Since the violence began on 19th September, British press coverage has expanded somewhat
to include depictions of displaced Armenians, but the lack of critical analysis remains
deeply problematic. Repeated references to the Armenians of Karabakh as ‘separatists’, for
example, reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of regional dynamics , dehumanising a
population facing ethnic cleansing. Coverage has also been characterised by a failure to
grapple with the realities of the Azerbaijani state. Meanwhile, endowments from the Aliyev
regime accepted by our academic and cultural institutions p rovide a useful veneer of
‘respectability’ to the laundering of funds, and history.
There are growing fears about the security and territorial integrity of the Republic of Armenia,
which the Azerbaijani president regularly refers to as ‘western Azerbaijan’. TheAliyev regime
cannot be allowed to interpret the inaction of the international communityin preventing this
war and the subjugation of Karabakh Armenians as a carte blanche to continue its campaign
of expansionism and ethnic cleansing.
The British government has demonstrated little understanding of the seriousness of the
situation. Lord Ahmad’s call at the United Nations Security Council for all parties to respect
the ceasefire, ‘to end the violence, and to engage in urgent, open dialogu e’ suggests a
fundamental misunderstanding of the conflict and its dynamics in recent years. His
suggestion that the UN and ICRC may be able to provide for humanitarian needs makes
sense, but underestimates the urgency of the situation and the restrictions Azerbaijan has
placed on access.
We are dismayed that our government’s policies have been shaped by years of ‘caviar’,
‘gold’, and ‘oil’ diplomacy. That Britain’s economic and business interests influence its foreign
policy is no new development, but aligning ourselves to regimes like Aliyev’s is something that
diminishes our nation and our standing on the global stage. More widely, our lack of
response to the violent takeover of Nagorno-Karabakh sends a dangerous message to both
Azerbaijan’s dictatorship, and the wider world. What message does our passivity send to those
fledgling democracies, such as Armenia, that deserve our support?
We stand in solidarity with the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and all those affected by the
recent violence. We implore the UK government and civil society to work towards the
protection and safety of the 120,000 Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, most of whom will
become refugees in Armenia. The provision of humanitarian aid is necessary, but it is not a
substitute for proper political engagement. We emphasise the importance of the international
community taking a stand for peace, justice, and the protection of the Armenian religious and
cultural heritage of Nagorno-Karabakh. Finally, Armenia’s beleaguered democracy and civil
society – including the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity – must be supported and
its people must be assured that they have not been abandoned by humanity, so that the
region’s cycle of violence may finally be broken.
- Dr Jo Laycock, Senior Lecturer in Migration History, University of Manchester
- Dr Sossie Kasbarian, Senior Lecturer in Politics, University of Stirling
- Dr Kevork Oskanian, Lecturer in Comparative Politics, University of Exeter
- Dr Vazken Khatchig Davidian, Associate Faculty Member, University of Oxford
- Mr Scot Hunter, Research Fellow, University of Stirling.
- Donald Bloxham, Richard Pares Professor of History, University of Edinburgh
- Dr Nicholas S. M. Matheou, Lecturer in Global Medieval History, University of Edinburgh
- Professor Armine Ishkanian, Professor in Social Policy, London School of Economics
- Dr Benjamin Thomas White, Senior Lecturer in History, University of Glasgow
- Theo Maarten van Lint, Calouste Gulbenkian Professor of Armenian Studies, University of
- Dr Rebecca Jinks, Senior Lecturer in Modern History, Royal Holloway, University of
- Dr Arek Dakessian, Research Fellow, Queen Margaret University
- Dr Alexander Morrison, Fellow and Tutor in History, New College, Oxford & Director,
Oxford Nizami Ganjavi Centre.
- Dr Laure Humbert, Senior Lecturer in Modern History, University of Manchester
- Jean-Marc Dreyfus, Professor of History, The University of Manchester.
- Dr Siobhán Hearne, Wellcome Trust Research Fellow, University of Manchester
- Professor Peter Gatrell FBA, Emeritus, University of Manchester
- Dr Sebastian Brock FBA, Emeritus, University of Oxford
- Dr Natalie Naïri Quinn, Tutorial Fellow in Economics, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford &
Departmental Lecturer in Economics, University of Oxford
- Dr Ulrike Ziemer, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, University of Winchester.
- Benjamin Selwyn, Professor of International Development, University of Sussex
- Prof Phil Slavin, Professor of Medieval and Environmental History, University of
- Dr Gascia Ouzounian, Associate Professor of Music, University of Oxford
- Dr Maria Fotopoulou. Senior Lecturer in Criminology, University of Stirling.
- Professor Brian Rogers, Emeritus, University of Oxford.
- Professor Alison Phipps, Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies UNESCO
Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts, University of Glasgow.
- Dr Maggie Grant, Lecturer in Social Work, University of Stirling
- Dr Linda Tabar, Senior Lecturer in Global Insecurities, University of Sussex
- Dr Susan Pattie, Honorary Senior Research Associate, University College London
- Dr Suzan Meryem Rosita Kalayci, Career Development Fellow in Woman’s
History, University of Oxford, and College Chaplain at St Hilda’s College.
- Dr Bashir Saade, Lecturer in Politics and Religion, University of Stirling
- Dr Anthony Gorman, Senior Lecturer in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, University
- Dr Zana Gul, Lecturer in International Politics, University of Stirling
- Dr Andrea Baumeister, Senior Lecturer in Politics, University of Stirling
- Dr. Wassim Mroueh, Tutor of Politics, University of Edinburgh
- Dr Bhavna Dave, Senior Lecturer in Central Asian Politics, SOAS
- Dr Georgios Argyropoulos. Lecturer in Psychology, University of Stirling
- Professor Dafydd Fell, SOAS University of London
- Dr Simona Vittorini, Senior Lecturer in Politics, SOAS University of London.
- Dr Asli Niyazioglu, Associate Professor in Ottoman History, University of Oxford
- Professor Bert Vaux, Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, Cambridge University
- Dr Vassilios Paipais, Senior Lecturer, School of International Relations,
University of St Andrews
- Dr. Lauren Banko, Research Fellow, Dept. of History, University of Manchester
- Dr Dimitrios Stroikos, LSE Fellow, Department of International Relations,
London School of Economics and Political Science
- Dr Zeynep Yurekli, Associate Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture, University of
- Prof Madeleine Reeves, Professor in the Anthropology of Migration, Universityof
- Dr Gyorgy Toth, Lecturer, University of Stirling
- Dr Marina Shapira, University of Stirling
- Professor John Heathershaw, University of Exeter
- Dr Irene Fernández-Molina, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, University of
- Dr Sean Kippin, Lecturer, University of Stirling
- Dr. Bice Maiguashca, Associate Professor in Politics, University of Exeter
- Dr. David Zakarian, Associate of the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies,
University of Oxford
- Dr Umberto Bongianino, Departmental Lecturer in Islamic Art and Architecture,
University of Oxford
- Prof Tim Hall, Faculty of Law, Crime and Justice, University of Winchester
- Dr Ruth M. Gornandt, Associate Member of the Faculty of Theology and
Religion, University of Oxford
- Dr Sarah Wilson, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology, University
- Prof Nina Parish, Professor of French and Francophone Studies, University of Stirling
- Dr Angus Stewart, Senior Lecturer in Middle Eastern History, University of St Andrews
- Prof Tim Greenwood, Professor in Middle Eastern History, University of St Andrews
- Dr Clemens Hoffmann, Senior Lecturer International Politics, University of Stirling
- Dr Kamran Matin, Senior Lecturer International Politics, University of Sussex
- Dr Julie Hearn, Senior Lecturer in Politics, Lancaster University
- Dr Christina Horvath, Reader in French Politics, University of Bath
- Dr. Alessandro Iandolo, Lecturer in Soviet and Post-Soviet History, University College
- Prof Dr Leslie Brubaker, Professor of Byzantine History emerita, University of
- Prof Emma Loosley Leeming, Professor of Middle Eastern and Caucasian Christianities,
University of Exeter
- Dr Robert Dale, Senior Lecturer in Russian History, Newcastle University.
- Professor Tony Kushner, Parkes Institute, University of Southampton.
- Dr Mark Levene, Emeritus fellow, University of Southampton
- Dr Natasha Kuhrt, Senior Lecturer, Dept of War Studies, King’s College, London
- Prof Hugh Kennedy, Professor of Arabic, SOAS University of London
- Prof Toni Haastrup, Professor, Global Politics, University of Manchester
- Dr Doreen Pastor, Lecturer in German, University of Bath
- Prof Judith Herrin, Professor emerita of Late Antique and Byzantine History, King’s
College London, University of London
- Revd Dr Andrew Teal, Chaplain, Fellow & Lecturer in Theology & Religion, Pembroke
College, University of Oxford
- Dr Marco Biasioli, Lecturer in Russian and East European Studies, University of
- Prof. Adham Saouli, University of St Andrews
- Dr George Gilbert, Lecturer in modern Russian history, University of Southampton
- Dr Ewa Ochman, Senior Lecturer in East European Studies, University of Manchester.
- Dr Ewan Stein, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, University of Edinburgh
- Dr Stephen Mossman, Senior Lecturer in Medieval History, Universityof Manchester
- Dr Elodie Laügt, Senior Lecturer, School of Modern Languages, University of St
- Prof. Andrea Schapper, Professor in International Politics, University of Stirling
- Prof Ziad Elmarsafy, School of Modern Languages, University of St Andrews
- Dr. Monalisa Adhikari, Lecturer in International Politics, University of Stirling
- Dr Fabio Caiani, School of Modern Languages, University of St Andrews
- Dr Steven Pierce, Senior Lecturer in Modern African History, University of Manchester
- Dr Tiran Manucharyan, Department of Arabic and Persian, University of St Andrews
- Dr Charlotte Wildman, Senior Lecturer in Modern British History, University of
- Dr Laura Albertini, Associate Lecturer, School of Modern Languages, University of St
- Dr Alyson Wharton, Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities and Heritage, University of
- Dr Georg Christ, Senior Lct, History, Univ. of Manchester
- Dr Aikaterini Gegisian, Associate Lecturer Art & Photography, London Metropolitan
- Prof. Bettina Bildhauer, School of Modern Languages, University of St Andrews
- Dr. Gregorio Bettiza, Sr. Lecturer in International Relations, University of Exeter
- Paola Leonardi, Course Leader and Senior Lecturer Fashion Photography, London
- Dr Johanna Hallsten, Course Leader and Senior Lecturer BA Fine Art, London
- Prof. Sasha Handley, School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, University of Manchester
- Dr Ashley Rogers, Lecturer in Criminology, University of Stirling
- Prof Svetlana Stephenson, School of Social Sciences and Professions, London
- Beata Stencel, Associate Lecturer Fashion Photography, London Metropolitan University
- Dr Alun Thomas, Associate Professor of Eurasian Studies, Staffordshire University
104.Yiannis Katsaris, Senior Lecturer in Photography, London Metropolitan University
- Dr Borna Izadpanah, Lecturer in Typography, University of Reading
- Dr Rachelle Viader Knowles, Head of International, Arts and Humanities, Manchester
- Siân Jones, Professor of Heritage, Director of the Centre for Environment, Heritage and
Policy, University of Stirling
- Marilyn Booth, Khalid bin Abdullah Al Saud Professor for the Study of the Contemporary
Arab World, University of Oxfor