Kim Kardashian Appeals to Biden to Prevent Another Armenian Genocide

Ottoman military forces march Armenians to an execution site. Image courtesy of the Armenian National Institute.

As 120,000 Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh face near-certain death at the hands of the Azeri government, two unlikely advocates for their cause have come forth to raise awareness of the Armenian’s plight and to ask US President Joe Biden to do more for their humanitarian cause.

Media personality and influencer Kim Kardashian, together with Dr. Eric Esrailian wrote a joint article in Rolling Stone magazine, in which they say their status as descendants of Armenian Genocide survivors has pushed them to highlight the unfolding tragedy taking place in the land of their ancestors.

“Since December of last year, Azerbaijan has blockaded the only lifeline between the indigenous Christian Armenians of Artsakh and the rest of the world. For many years, they have been dependent on the transport of food, medical supplies, and humanitarian aid through the Lachin Corridor. The war in Ukraine has made Azerbaijan a seemingly more favorable alternative to Russian oil and gas for some countries. However, this reliance has emboldened the autocratic Azeri government to use starvation as a weapon against the Armenian population in the region. There is no more time for thoughts, prayers, or concern.”

Kardashian and Esrailian recommended several ways the international community could prevent a genocide including “through economic sanctions, cutting off foreign aid to Azerbaijan, boycotting international events in Azerbaijan (such as concerts and sporting events like soccer and Formula 1), and through proceedings in international courts…”

The Armenian people under threat have luckily drawn the attention of high-level social media personalities such as Kardashian, but it may not be enough. To the Armenian’s benefit, others have become involved as well and are making their case as public as possible.

The University Network for Human Rights, in collaboration with students, lawyers, and academics from Harvard Law School Advocates for Human Rights, UCLA’s Promise Institute for Human Rights, Wesleyan University, and Yale’s Lowenstein Project conducted two fact-finding trips in Nagorno-Karabakh and four in Armenia between March 2022 and July 2023.

They noted the “very real threat of mass forced displacement, widespread starvation and genocide” by the Azeri government is a “synchronized, comprehensive campaign to empty Nagorno-Karabakh and parts of Armenia of Armenians.”

In their recently published briefing, they wrote, “We documented atrocities perpetrated by Azerbaijani forces against ethnic Armenians during the 44-Day Nagorno-Karabakh War in 2020, after the ceasefire, during the 2022 attacks in sovereign Armenia, as well as in times of relative peace.”

The trip participants accused the Azeri government of carrying out “extrajudicial killings of civilians, including the elderly and disabled; enforced disappearance of Armenian troops; torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners of war; death threats, intimidation, and harassment of residents of border communities; and life-threatening restrictions on freedom of movement and access to vital infrastructure.”

In August, Luis Moreno Ocampo, former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, who testified in front of the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission last week, also published a report describing the tragedy as a genocide and suggesting the necessary steps to prevent it from further deteriorating.

According to Ocampo, President Aliyev as well as the international community “has the rare opportunity” to prevent further casualties and the ‘physical destruction’ of the Armenian people through genocide.

He recommended the adoption of “urgent political decisions” including to “stop the blockade and reestablish the provision of essentials to Nagorno-Karabakh in one or two weeks, and institutional solutions to the disputed territorial claims.”

Ocampo noted in his report that he is not alone in calling the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh a genocide.

In February, the International Association of Genocide Scholars Executive and Advisory Boards stated: “Significant genocide risk factors exist in the Nagorno-Karabakh situation concerning the Armenian population.”

In June 22, the Lemkin Institute for Genocide prevention also issued a Red Flag Alert for genocide.

This is not the first time Armenians are threatened with genocide nor is it the first time the world ignored a group of people starving to death. As Ocampo points out in his report, “an estimated 1 million Armenians were murdered or died of disease and starvation in 1915 “and the world did not stop it. Starving children in the Warsaw ghetto produced no reaction. Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) became a prison of starvation.”

He further added that many Cambodians died of starvation and malnutrition, which outsiders mistakenly associated with “natural” economic and climatic forces, instead of the evil perpetrated by the Khmer rouge’s regime. The Milosevic regime in Srebrenica tortured, starved, and executed prisoners.

With this in mind, perhaps Kardashian and Esrailian, together with the other figures and organizations involved, will succeed in saving the Armenians trapped in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“As citizens, we are appealing to leaders such as President Biden, Secretary of State Blinken, and their colleagues to take a stand immediately. They must pressure Azerbaijan to open the corridor without preconditions,” they wrote.

Time is running out before the world witnesses yet another preventable genocide.

Chloe Atkinson is a climate change activist and consultant on global climate affairs.