Artsakh | Six Month Blockade

Since December 12, 2022, at around 10:30 am (GMT+4), a group of Azerbaijanis in civilian clothes, presenting themselves as alleged “environmental activists” blocked the only road, Goris – Stepanakert Highway, which passes through the Lachin (Berdzor) corridor connecting Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) with Armenia and the outside world. The so-called “eco-protest” with the documented participation of the Azerbaijani state-sponsored special services agents has proved to be fully orchestrated by the Azerbaijani government.

On April 23, 2023, Azerbaijan announced the installation of an illegal Azerbaijani checkpoint on the bridge over the Hakari river on the Goris-Stepanakert Highway. On April 28, after Azerbaijan completed the construction and equipped the checkpoint, the so-called Azerbaijani “environmental activists” announced that they were leaving the blocked section of the road, whilst the representatives of Azerbaijani police and other services replaced them. As a result of these developments, since April 23, the Goris-Stepanakert Highway has actually been blocked by Azerbaijan in two sections – in the area of Shushi and at the Hakari bridge. As a result of the installation of the illegal checkpoint by Azerbaijan, the communities of Yeghtsahogh, Hin Shen, Mets Shen and Lisagor of the Shushi district of the Republic of Artsakh found themselves in a double blockade.

As a result, the ongoing blockade has physically obstructed the sole road of life of Artsakh for 6 months already (182 days), leaving its entire population, 120,000 people, including 30,000 children, in a state of total isolation, facing massive violations of individual and collective human rights, as well as multifaceted existential and security threats.

Along with the ongoing blockade of the Lachin corridor, Azerbaijan has also deliberately disrupted the operation of the critical infrastructure of Artsakh (natural gas supply, electricity supply, Internet and mobile communication) with the aim to further aggravate the already dire humanitarian crisis and cause excessive human sufferings to the Artsakh people.

Moreover, in the period after the Trilateral Statement on Ceasefire3, signed by the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the Russian Federation on November 9, 2020, the Azerbaijani side has repeatedly grossly violated the provisions of the Statement, resorting to military escalation, disrupting the normal life and activity of the civilian population of Artsakh, initiating physical and psychological attacks and violence against the population.

The ongoing blockade of Artsakh and disruption of vital infrastructure by Azerbaijan, as well as the regular and consistent armed attacks, aim at subjecting Artsakh to ethnic cleansing through physical and psychological intimidation, creating unbearable conditions and destroying the indigenous Armenian population of Artsakh.

This report comprehensively presents the constant and significant violations of individual and collective human rights as a result of the blockade of Artsakh by Azerbaijan, which were recorded during the 6 months of the blockade (182 days) as of June 12, 2023. The report has been prepared on the basis of inquiries addressed to state bodies by the office of the human rights defender (Ombudsman) of the Republic of Artsakh, conducted studies and information received from interviews and open sources.