Dear brothers, sisters, colleagues and fellow believers.
The Evangelical Church of Armenia, being an integral part of the Armenian Church and the Armenian people, is raising its voice today regarding an important and urgent issue and calling on you from Armenia.
As many of you already know, since September 27, South Caucasus has become a hot spot. The region has become extremely unstable as the Republic of Azerbaijan, with Turkey’s unconditional and stratified support, openly waged a full-scale war against Nagorno-Karabakh, using mercenary terrorists from Syria and Libya.
Nagorno Karabakh, historically known as Artsakh, is legitimately an Armenian territory, had Armenian sovereignty for centuries, was mostly inhabited by Armenians, and is now inhabited by the indigenous Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh. All of Nagorno Karabakh is full of cultural, religious, spiritual and architectural Armenian heritage that dates back thousands of years , which is expressed in the magnificent churches, ancient and majestic monasteries, thousands of handmade cross-stones/khachkars, impenetrable and magnificent fortresses, castles and the remains of pre-Christian cities.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Nagorno-Karabakh has been in conflict with Azerbaijan. The mandate to resolve this conflict is internationally vested in the OSCE Minsk Group, the executive body of which (directly involved in resolving the conflict) is called the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs. The co-chairs are the United States, Russia and France, and the negotiating parties are Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Disregarding everything, Azerbaijan brutally and aggressively disrupted the peaceful settlement of the conflict and started a war. The aim of the war was to occupy Nagorno-Karabakh illegally and to exterminate and deport the local Armenians. In other words, this was a genocidal war, a crime against the civilized world. This was also a war against Christians. Of course, for us Armenians, this was not a war against the Muslim world. Not by any means. But for Azerbaijan, this was a war against the Christian faith, culture and civilization. The proof is the deliberate destruction of many churches and Christian monuments during the war.
And so, the war that started on September the 27th lasted 44 days. The active phase of the war ended with the trilateral agreement signed by Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia on the 9th of November. As a result of the war, thousands of Armenian Christians were killed and thousands were injured. Tens of thousands of our Christian brothers and sisters were left homeless and lost their possessions.
The agreement has several points, one of which is the exchange of war prisoners. Currently, there are more than 100 Armenian captives in Azerbaijan, most of whom are military, but there are also over 10 abducted civilians, some of whom were abducted days after the agreement was signed.
In addition to the many war crimes committed by Azerbaijan, the state refuses to fulfill its obligations and hand over the Armenian captives to the Armenian side. They are falsely and illegally prolonging the process. But the most terrible thing is that the Azerbaijani side is keeping our captives in cruel and inhuman conditions. They openly and continuously torment, torture and humiliate our captives; they are being as brutal as their authorities. They are not even trying to hide it, as if they don’t give a damn about the international community and organizations, because they post and publish pictures and videos documenting the Azerbaijani atrocities on the Internet.
Now, in our turn, we are raising our voices, calling for justice and humbly asking you to sypathize and empathize with your Armenian Christian brothers living far from you and understand the injustice done to them. We turn to you, brothers and ask you to spare no effort wherever you are, to take the necessary steps to raise the issue of the Armenian captives and find a prompt solution.
Justice and peace are among the greatest Christian virtues and the triumph of justice is a triumph for all of us and it is the manifestation of God's love in our lives.
We are all comforted by the words of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, where He proclaimed the essence of His ministry, saying,
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”. (Luke 4: 18-19).
This is a consolation to us; it is also the proclamation of our mission and ministry.
May the Lord bless and protect us all.