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Thus says the Lord of hosts: Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another. Zechariah 7:9 NRSV

After fully recognizing the ongoing crisis in Armenia, an ancient Apostolic Christian nation, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) joins the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Orthodox Church of America to reiterate the importance of the Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) peace process.

NCC calls for the United States to provide urgently needed humanitarian aid for the people of Artsakh who were forced to flee their homes during the unprovoked attack by Azerbaijan and Turkey that displaced more than 50,000 ethnic Armenians in the region. We plead for the United States to actively negotiate the safe return of Armenian soldiers and citizens who are being held in violation of the ceasefire agreement signed on November 9, 2020. We also urge the broad recognition of the Armenian Genocide of the early 20th century by all political and faith leaders throughout the United States.

NCC applauds the letter signed by 101 Members of Congress that was sent to U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to stress the importance of addressing the “ongoing humanitarian crisis in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh).” We commend the strong bipartisan support of this letter toward insuring the well-being of the displaced Armenian people from Artsakh. The United states must address the immediate and significant problems of feeding, housing, and protecting these displaced families during the COVID-19 pandemic and insuring their long-term settlement into permanent residences.

We call on President Biden and the Secretary of State to take direct action and negotiate the release of all Armenian soldiers and civilians held by Azerbaijan. Even though the cease fire agreement mandated that Azerbaijan must free all Armenian prisoners of war and apprehended citizens, Azerbaijan has refused to abide by the agreement. An unknown number, believed to be over 200 Armenians, continue to be held captive. Many were captured after the military hostilities ended. Due to the release of videos, we fear the mistreatment and torture of those who are detained.

We lament of the destruction of the churches and religious monuments during the conflict. When United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) attempted to send a committee to visit the religious sites, both of their requests were denied. According to the 1954 Convention for the Protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict, Azerbaijan is required to protect cultural heritage during their aggression. UNESCO’s independent mission of experts must be permitted to produce a preliminary inventory of significant cultural properties in order to begin safeguarding the region’s heritage.

We commend President Biden for pledging to support a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide of the early 20th century. Approximately one and a half million Armenians were killed from 1915-1923 during the Ottoman Empire. We applaud both the House and Senate for passing resolutions recognizing the fact of the Genocide during the 116th Congress. As Armenians continue to be displaced and killed, we call for the President to keep his pledge and formally recognize the Armenian Genocide on April 24, 2021, Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, in order to further the US commitment to human rights.

We call for prayers to comfort those held prisoner, their anguished families, and those displaced from their homes, so that they may all know God’s true compassion and find strength to persevere during this time of persecution.

Previous NCC Statements:

Statement in Support of Armenia and Armenian Church

NCC Calls For an Immediate End to the Armenia/Azerbaijan Conflict

NCC Demands an End to the Violence on the Azerbaijan-Armenia Border

NCC Urges Passage of HR 296, Recognition of Armenian Genocide