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 ANC UK Newsletter May 2024

1. UK General Election 2024
2. Campaign to #BanAzerbaijan from Paris Olympics
3. Human rights and the COP29 in Azerbaijan
Police brutality against peaceful protestors in Armenia

5. News articles and recent developments

1. UK General Election 2024

The 2024 United Kingdom General Election is scheduled for Thursday, 4th July 2024. It will determine the composition of the House of Commons, which determines the government of the United Kingdom. Don’t forget to vote!

2. Campaign to #BanAzerbaijan from Paris Olympics

There is no place for genocide at the Olympics! ANC-UK joins the campaign by Christian Solidarity International to #BanAzerbaijan from the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“Azerbaijan has driven 100,000 Armenian Christians out of their ancient homeland of Nagorno Karabakh/Artsakh. Now it is threatening to invade the Republic of Armenia itself. After Russia invaded Ukraine, the International Olympic Committee barred Russia and Belarus from sending national teams to the 2024 Olympics. Russian and Belarusian athletes may compete as neutrals, but not under their country’ flag. The IOC should apply the same standard to Azerbaijan”, said CSI.

Tell the International Olympic Committee to #BanAzerbaijan!

Take action

3. Human rights and the COP29 in Azerbaijan

The Guardian reported that “Azerbaijan’s government has been accused of cracking down on media and civil society activism” before hosting #COP29. “Human Rights Watch has found at least 25 instances of the arrest or sentencing of journalists and activists in the past year, almost all of whom remain in custody”.

“Azerbaijan will host the UN Cop29 climate summit over two weeks in November, when nearly 200 governments, including dozens of heads of state, are expected to thrash out a new global approach to providing the funds needed to tackle the climate crisis”, explained The Guardian.

“Azerbaijan, an authoritarian state where media and civic freedoms are curtailed, is regarded as one of the world’s most corrupt countries, coming 154th out of 180 states in a ranking by Transparency International last year. There is little effective political opposition and the president, Ilham Aliyev, won more than 92% of the vote in elections in February to take a fifth consecutive term. His father was Heydar Aliyev, who led the country under Soviet rule and was installed as president after a military coup in 1993 followed the breakup of the eastern bloc. Azerbaijan is also accused of holding political prisoners. A war with neighbouring Armenia last year over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region ended with 100,000 people being displaced from their homes”.

Read the article here

The Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention issued a statement on June 4 rejecting the decision by the United Nations to name Azerbaijan as host of #COP29, the annual UN climate change summit, “given Azerbaijan’s genocidal strategies in Nagorno-Karabakh, the genocidal Armenophobic ideology of its leader, President Ilham Aliyev, and the extensive corruption and human rights abuses at home”.

“By granting Azerbaijan the honor of hosting this important event, the UN is endorsing genocidal speech, genocidal policies, and dictatorship, which benefits neither the climate nor the people of the world. The choice of Azerbaijan as COP host legitimizes, rationalizes, and normalizes genocide in world politics”.

“Azerbaijan was chosen to host COP29 through an established UN mechanism in December 2023, less than three months after it had overseen the genocide through “ethnic cleansing” of Armenians from the region of Nagorno-Karabakh (‘Artsakh’ to Armenians) and following a ten-month-long genocidal blockade of the territory. The exodus from Artsakh — which ended an almost 4,000-year-old continuous presence by one of the oldest Christian communities in the world — was one of the most effective genocides of recent times”.

4. Police brutality against peaceful protestors in Armenia

Armenia’s leading media associations on Thursday strongly condemned riot police for injuring at least a dozen journalists during Wednesday’s clashes in Yerevan with protesters demanding Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s resignation.

They suggested that the police deliberately targeted reporters and cameramen who covered the protest on a street adjacent to the Armenian parliament building. During scuffles that broke out there, security forces hurled dozens of stun grenades into the crowd, injuring at least 83 people who required medical aid in hospitals.

Photo by Vahram Baghdasaryan, Photolure.

Amnesty International issued a statement calling the Armenian authorities to “immediately and impartially investigate what happened, including allegations that the police may have used unnecessary or excessive force” during the latest street rally in Yerevan demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

“The authorities’ response to protests, even when they turn violent, must be strictly compliant with international human rights law and standards. Law enforcement officials should avoid the use of force; where this is not possible, force should only be used when it is absolutely necessary and proportionate to achieve a legitimate law enforcement objective, and to the minimum extent necessary”, said the organisation.

Photo by Karen Minasyan/AFP.

5. News articles and recent developments

A DW documentary published on May 28 showed how corrupt EU politicians collect bribes from Azerbaijan to turn a blind eye to their crimes against the Armenian population of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) and the human rights violations of the regime.

The documentary follows German parliamentarian Frank Schwabe, member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and an advocate of democracy and human rights in Azerbaijan. In his work, he uncovered a system that rewarded some European politicians for looking the other way when elections in Azerbaijan were rigged and keeping quiet when opposition members were persecuted. The film also traces the fate of Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. She revealed links between businesspeople in Malta, members of the European Parliament, and Azerbaijan — and paid for it with her life.

Watch it here
The organisation Caucasus Heritage Watch (CHW) published a report on June 24 showing a 75% increase in in the destruction of the Armenian cultural heritage in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) by Azerbaijan, including schools, burial grounds and churches.

“As a result of the September 2023 expulsion of Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenian population, our Spring 2024 monitoring expanded to include 181 additional sites, bringing our total current inventory to 489 sites distributed across more than 7000 km2”, said the report.

“The most visible impacts continue to take place in the town of Shusha/Shushi where, in addition to the erasure of the 18-19th century Ghazanchetsots cemetery, we documented the demolition of the 1847 Surb Hovhannes Mkrtich Church (Kanach Zham). Elsewhere, a sacred place, known as Kohak, was also destroyed. It contained three khachkars dating to the 9th and 13th centuries. Yet another historic cemetery containing 19th and early 20th century tombstones, this one near Garabulag/Aknaghbyur, was also destroyed, along with the ruins of the shrine (or maturr) in the middle of the cemetery”.

Read it here
The Guardian reported on June 29 that journalists from the UK and France were banned from the 2024 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP29).

“Western journalists were refused entry to an energy industry conference in Azerbaijan earlier this month, reigniting concerns over the state’s crackdown on the media ahead of crucial UN climate talks in Baku later this year. At least three journalists from the UK and France have told the Guardian that they felt ‘unsafe’ after they were denied entry to the Baku Energy Week forum, despite registering with the event organisers weeks in advance”, said The Guardian.

“The journalists said they were not given a valid reason why they had been turned away, but they chose to leave the venue after ‘frightening’ and ‘intimidating’ encounters with the organisers. The conference was held shortly before research by Human Rights Watch revealed at least 25 instances of the arrest or sentencing of journalists and activists in Azerbaijan over the past year, almost all of whom remain in custody”.

Read it here

“Nestled in the heart of the Caucasus region, at the geographical and ideological crossways of Europe and Asia, Armenia holds its own in terms of history, hiking and cuisine. It’s a mountainous nation, with more than half of its territory elevated between 3,000ft and 6,500ft above sea level. Sweeping plateaus — etched with canyons and bulging with extinct volcanoes — are occasionally interrupted by pockets of fertile lowland in the west, while the eastern part of the country unfolds around the sapphire waters of Lake Sevan, one of Eurasia’s largest freshwater alpine lakes. From the ‘pink city’, Yerevan, to the charcoal-and-gold Gyumri and the emerald Debed Canyon, here’s how to explore this colourful nation”.

Read the article by Emily Lush published by National Geographic:

Read it here
The Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that Armenia recognises the State of Palestine.

The statement published by Armenia’s MFA states that Armenia rejects violence against civilians and supports international calls for a ceasefire in Gaza.

It also mentions that Armenia has backed UN General Assembly resolutions calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

“We are convinced that this is the only way to ensure that both Palestinians and Israelis can fulfill their legitimate aspirations. Based on the above and reaffirming our commitment to international law and the principles of equality, sovereignty, and peaceful coexistence of peoples, the Republic of Armenia recognizes the State of Palestine” reads the statement.

Politico revealed that Azerbaijan started a deceptive PR campaign against businessman, philanthropist and former State Minister of the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) Ruben Vardanyan, who is illegally held in a prison in Baku.

The article entitled “Strange Lobbying Campaign of the Week” reveals that Politico “received an email from a PR firm about what it described as Russian influence operations in Europe” that “focused exclusively on one man”, Ruben Vardanyan.

According to Politico, the PR campaign claimed that MEPs Viola von Cramon-Taubadel and Karen Melchior “had backed a motion calling on the Nobel Prize Committee to recognize Vardanyan as a Russian agent and rule him out as a potential recipient of the award”, but they both told Politico that “they had done no such thing, suggesting their words had been deliberately taken out of context to support Azerbaijan’s talking points”

Read it here
Mai Rosner, senior campaigner at the climate advocacy group Global Witness, spoke about the 2024 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP29) to be held in Azerbaijan: “Free press and civil society are critical in the fight against climate breakdown. Azerbaijan is attempting to silence both – demonstrated most dramatically by the beating and imprisonment of Gubad Ibadoghlu, a prominent critic of the Azeri fossil fuel industry. Authoritarian petrostates cannot be in charge of climate negotiations”.
Read it here

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The Armenian National Committee of the United Kingdom (ANC-UK) is the largest and most influential British-Armenian political grassroots organisation.

Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout Britain and affiliated organisations around the world, ANC-UK actively advances the concerns of the British-Armenian community on a broad range of issues.

The work achieved by ANC-UK is currently on a volunteer basis. However, we are hopeful that in the coming years through the financial support of our community, the ANC-UK chapter will have the necessary funds to open a full-time office employing an Executive Director and a part-time Administrative Assistant.

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