Leaders search for options in Artsakh

By April 20, 2022

Armenia (MNN) — Leaders search for alternatives in a region at the heart of the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

“This region called Nagorno-Karabakh – we call it Artsakh – is an indigenous Armenian location. [There are] churches dating back to the fourth century,” says Dr. Haig Kherlopian, lead pastor of the Armenian Evangelical Church of New York.

Watch a short discussion about persecution in Armenia between Pastor Kherlopian and Greg Musselman, Minister at Large for The Voice of Martyrs Canada.

In 2020, “there was a 44-day war where Azerbaijan and jihadists from the Middle East led an assault” against Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia and Azerbaijan both claim the territory, and the war’s end left both sides unhappy.

“[Azeri forces killed] innocent (Armenian) civilians using drones; many war crimes took place, and they took the land from our people.”

This Sunday, April 24, marks the 107th anniversary of the 1915 Armenian massacre. The Ottoman Empire, created by Turkish tribes, arrested 235 Armenian poets, doctors, religious leaders, and political dissidents. In the following months, militants tortured and publicly executed most of them.

By the end of World War I, Ottoman policies resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Armenian men, women, and children. While 31 countries describe the events as genocide, Turkey denies any plan to systematically wipe out the Armenian population.

“Turkey funded Azerbaijan in this (2020) attack. Imagine if the people group that committed genocide [in the past] is attacking you again. There’s an existential threat and fear,” Kherlopian says.

To Russia with love?

Clashes in the disputed region continued for two years as multiple cease-fires failed. Mediation efforts increased at the end of March. Today, international players are reportedly pressuring Armenia to give Azerbaijan control.

Flag of the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) waving in the center of Yerevan, Armenia.
(Wikimedia Commons)

“There’s a track record of Turkey and Azerbaijan desecrating our historic sites and trying to rewrite history,” Kherlopian says.

“It seems like [each time,] more land gets taken from us, more Christians get killed.”

Rejecting Armenia’s willingness to compromise, authorities in the Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh region are considering a radical solution: join Russia. More about the Armenia-Russia connection here.

No matter who gains political control, Armenian believers remain committed. Will you pray for them? Use prompts listed alongside this article to guide your intercession.

“We keep our eyes on Jesus. If they destroy churches, we will rebuild churches; we will raise more Christian families if they kill us. It’s always trusting in Christ; not repaying with evil, but overcoming evil with good,” Kherlopian says.

“We’ve endured 1,700 years of Christian persecution. We are very resilient people.”




Header image is a map of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War. (Wikimedia Commons)