An Armenian scientist has called on Senedd members to condemn the “war of terror” being waged against her people.
The call from Bangor-based Anna Cervi, who fears for friends and family caught up in the blockade of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which has left 120,000 Armenians facing a humanitarian crisis, has been backed by North Wales MS Llyr Gruffydd.
She has spoken out ahead of a Senedd debate tabled by Mr Gruffydd, which will be on March 8.
The Armenian-majority territory is at the centre of a deadly dispute with Azerbaijan. The United Nations’ highest court, the International Court of Justice, recently called on Azerbaijan to ensure the roadblock in the region’s Lachin corridor is removed. The roadblock has not been removed, despite this ruling.
Anna, research chemist, who has lived in Wales for 24 years, and is married to a local man, wants the Senedd to back a statement condemning the blockade, which has been put forward by Plaid Cymru MSs Llyr Gruffydd and Heledd Fychan.
Their statement calls on the UK Government to provide aid to avert a humanitarian crisis facing 120,000 Armenian people as a result of the blockade of the Lachin corridor, which has been in place since December 12, 2022. It is the only road connecting the land-locked region to the outside world.
The statement also recognises the “horrors of the Armenian genocide” of 1915-23 as well as “the threat of another genocide occurring in 2023”.
Following a six week war in 2020, Azerbaijan was granted control over large tracts of Nagorno-Karabakh as well as adjacent land occupied by Armenians, in a ceasefire brokered by Russia. Relatives of Anna, including her cousin Rima, were among the thousands of ethnic Armenians who were displaced by the war.
Fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia erupted again last year and in December the roadblock in Lachin corridor was set up by protesters claiming to be environmental activists. Armenia’s lawyers have said the move, which has led to shortages of food, medicine and life-saving medical supplies, is part of an Azerbaijani campaign of “ethnic cleansing.”
Anna said: “I have friends and family that are caught up in what is going on and it’s very hard because when you know people it becomes more personal. My heart hurts for my country, for everybody, but then you have people who you know and you constantly worry about them. It’s very difficult.
“My cousin Rima and her family now live in Stepanakert, which is in the area under blockade. They used to live in the town of Shusha. Because Azerbaijan took over control of there they had to move from there during the war.
“They ran away from there because there was bombing day and night. When the war ended they decided to go to Stepanakert. Her son has wounds from this war. He has had one lung removed, a kidney has been damaged, and his spine is damaged too. He has three children.
“My cousin told me ‘ you know Anna, it’s not the shortage of food or electricity or supplied. We lived through the first Nagorno-Karabakh war in those conditions. It’s not that. It’s the fear of not knowing what they’re going to do next.’
“In Wales I would like to see Senedd members sign that statement of opinion that has been tabled. So few people have signed it. It’s hurtful. We are not asking for too much. They just have to show that they understand our pain. We want acknowledgement, recognition and solidarity.
“I would like to see the First Minister Mark Drakeford and the Welsh Government speak out on this. I am very disappointed they have not.”
Llyr Gruffydd MS said: “These reports of new attacks by Azerbaijan on Armenian territory are extremely concerning.
“These unprovoked attacks are not only targeted on the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region but also on provinces within Armenia’s international recognised sovereign boundaries.
“This follows years of attacks on the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, for which the Government of Azerbaijan have never been held to proper account.
“I would like to convey my sympathy to all victims and their families who have been affected.
“I am calling on Senedd members, including the First Minister Mark Drakeford and his ministers in the Welsh Government to back the statement condemning this war of terror being waged against the Armenian people.
“I am also calling on the UK Government to condemn the unjustified actions taken by the Government of Azerbaijan; and to join other nations around the world in demanding an immediate end to this unprovoked aggression.”