Armenian Instruments Used Against Azerbaijan

A number of foreign and Armenian media and politicians publish articles accusing Azerbaijan of various offenses on ethnic and religious grounds. These articles often reference two organizations, the Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention and Caucasus Heritage Watch, which were relatively unknown before Azerbaijan's victory in Karabakh in 2020. Let's explore these organizations and their backgrounds.

The Lemkin Institute was established in 2021 as a non-governmental organization in Pennsylvania, USA. Its founders were inspired to create the Institute after witnessing the aftermath of religious and ethnic minority genocides carried out by the Islamic State in Northern Iraq. The Institute's co-founders are Elisa von Joeden-Forgey, a professor at Keene College and Stockton University, and Irene Victoria Massimino, an international law professor and Indiana University graduate.

The Institute focuses on programs that study conflicts with a high risk of genocide. Notably, Azerbaijan is prominently featured in their work, accused of "crimes against Armenians." While they mention other countries like Iraq and Russia, the Institute's attention appears to be disproportionately directed at Azerbaijan, particularly with regard to accusations against it.

References to the Lemkin Institute are primarily found in Armenian and foreign media, especially Russian outlets, which frequently quote Armenian sources. Their focus seems to be one-sided and primarily on Azerbaijan, with limited reporting on Iraq, Russia (such as the war in Ukraine), or the actions of Armenians in Azerbaijan from 1991 to 2023.

Caucasus Heritage Watch, on the other hand, gained attention for accusing Azerbaijan of destroying a church in the village of Susanlig in the Khojavend district of the Karabakh Economic Region. Historian Eldar Ginesli has asserted that Caucasus Heritage Watch was formed by Armenian philanthropists in the United States following the liberation of Karabakh from Armenian occupation. Its members include individuals associated with Cornell University and Prague University, such as Lori Khachaturian, Adam Smith, Ian Lindsey, Husik Ghoulyan, and Salpi Bochieryan. The organization's partners are all Armenian entities, including the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the Armenian Academy of Sciences, the Institute for the Study of Monuments of Armenian Culture, and a group called the Monitoring of the Cultural Heritage of Artsakh, which identifies as an "academic platform." The organization is also sponsored by several entities, including the Pan-Armenian Charitable Foundation, the Agarats Foundation, the Institute of Armenian Studies (USA), Cornell University, the Department of Anthropology at Purdue University, and the Ford Foundation.

Caucasus Heritage Watch claims to "identify evidence of the destruction of cultural heritage" and positions itself as a defender of cultural heritage in the Caucasus. However, their findings and accusations seem to exclusively target Azerbaijan, raising questions about their impartiality. Despite decades of Armenian occupation in the region, their focus remains on Azerbaijan, and their satellite surveillance images, according to Ginesli, are inconclusive and require on-site verification.

It is expected that opportunities for on-site visits will be provided in the future. Ginesli believes that the truth about the vandalism of the occupiers, which includes the destruction of cities, mosques, museums, and monuments over 30 years, can no longer be hidden, as numerous international organizations, media, and diplomatic missions have visited the recently liberated areas. In this context, Caucasus Heritage Watch's activities may be seen as an attempt to divert attention from the real culprits of cultural heritage destruction and shift it toward hypothetical concerns, as exemplified by the case of the Albanian church in Susanlig.

An analysis of the activities of the Lemkin Institute and Caucasus Heritage Watch raises suspicions that these organizations may have been established as tools for the anti-Azerbaijani efforts of the Armenian government.

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