Written by Azad Archives

28 September 2023

After nine months of an illegal and deadly blockade, Azerbaijan launched major attacks against Artsakh, bombing civilian targets and forcing residents to flee their homes. The Artsakh government and army have been disbanded, the entire territory surrendered, thousands are dead or missing, and the rest are trying to flee, not knowing if they will make it out alive. This is genocide, and we cannot stand by in silence while people suffer. 

In This Guide:

Historical background and current context

Recommended news sources

Updates from on the ground

Political action kits

Humanitarian efforts

Resources for Artsakh Refugees



In September of 2020, Azerbaijan launched a full scale attack on the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh Republic), which has an ethnically Armenian population and was an independent, unrecognized state for over 25 years. After 44 days, Armenia, Artsakh, Azerbaijan, and Russia signed a ceasefire agreement surrenduring most of Artsakh’s territory to Azerbaijan, displacing thousands, and leaving only one road to connect Artsakh to its main source of essential resources in Armenia. 

In December of 2022, Azerbaijan closed this road, beginning an illegal blockade that lasts until today. This left the population of Artsakh without food, reliable electricity, medical supplies, and other essential items. After nine months of blockade, Azerbaijan launched a new offensive on September 19, 2023. On September 20, a ceasefire agreement was signed that included the dissolution of Artsakh’s state and army, surrendering the rest of the territory to Azerbaijan. Despite this, Azerbaijan continued to bomb Artsakh and did not allow residents to flee for multiple days. Azerbaijan announced the “reintegration” of Artsakh, but the entire population is expected to flee, seeing no prospect of reintegration under a government that starved them for 9 months, massacred civilians, and is rife with hate speech and Armenophobia. 


How Armenophobia fuels Azerbaijan’s foreign policy

EVN Report: Newswatch


In 1923, in order to strengthen Soviet ties with Turkey, Stalin put a province of historically Armenian land with a 95% Armenian population, known as Artsakh, into the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan. Although relative peace was maintained by Soviet rule in the region, as the Soviet Union began to collapse, Armenians began to protest peacefully for their right to self-determination, and on February 20, 1988 the Regional Soviet of People’s Deputies of Nagorno Karabakh voted to join the Republic of Armenia. This decision was made before Azerbaijan declared its independence on August 30, 1991, but it was never recognized by the international community. The vote was met with horrific violence against Armenians in the Azeri cities of Sumgait and Baku. In the face of this violence, and impending threats on Artsakh, Armenians took up arms to defend themselves.

The Artsakh War was a war between the army of Artsakh, supported by the Army of Armenia, and Azerbaijan. The war ended in the ceasefire of 1994, and Artsakh gaining independence as a defacto republic.

After the ceasefire, the attacks on Armenia continued as Azerbaijan began to fire regularly on civilians in the border villages of Tavush province in Armenia. These firing campaigns were never meant to start another all-out war, but rather to keep the people of Tavush in a constant state of fear and threat, and to cut off their economic opportunities and livelihoods.


History of Artsakh

The Caucasus before ethno-states

Azerbaijan’s close relationship with Turkey

Stalin’s attempt to forge closer ties with Turkey

Incorporation of Artsakh into Azerbaijan

1988 Artsakh referendum to join Armenia

Massacres against Armenians in Azerbaijan


Armenians are indigenous to the region of Artsakh, and there is archaeological evidence showing Armenian inhabitation of the land for thousands of years. For example, the ancient city of Tigranakert was built around 90 BC by Armenian king Tigran II the Great, with ruins still standing today. Other sites showing evidence of Armenian inhabitation include the 4th-century Amaras Monastery, the 13th-century Gandzasar Monastery, and the 19th-century Ghazanchetsots Church in Shushi. In ancient and medieval times, Artsakh was the 10th province of Great Armenia, and it was part of multiple Armenian kingdoms before the 11th-century invasion of the Seljuk Turks, the first Turkic tribes to come to the area.


Why Armenian Cultural Heritage Threatens Azerbaijan’s Claim to Nagorno-Karabakh

Historical Overview of Artsakh: Armenian Museum of America

AGBU Artsakh resource page

History Museum of Armenia: Virtual Exhibition: Treasures of Artsakh


The conflict remains an issue of ethnic cleansing and Genocide. As stated by the editors of Genocide Studies International, “Azerbaijan has shifted from genocide by attrition through the deprivation of basic life-sustaining resources into a direct armed conflict targeting civilians, including children, who have been collectively labeled “terrorists.” In addition, multiple Turkish and Azerbaijani politicians and media outlets have been recorded making statements confirming their goal of genocide.


USC: Intentional Killing of Karabakh Armenian Civilians Documented

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: Graphic execution videos emerge as Armenians flee and experts warn of genocide

Erdogan threatens to finish the Armenian Genocide

Mayor of Baku in 2005 threatens genocide

Statement of the editors of Genocide Studies International regarding genocide in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic


EVN Report: Newswatch with Live Updates

Civilnet: News in English and Armenian

We urge you to use caution when reading international news sources, as portrayals of this conflict are heavily influenced by geopolitical interests, and often create inacurate portrayals of the situation through tactics like passive language and false balance, or bothsidesism. For a more in-depth analysis of this issue, see Ella Chakarian’s article Passive Language is Dangerous. Azerbaijan’s Attacks Against Armenia Show Why.


Journalist Siranush Sargsyan on Twitter

Journalist Marut Vanyan on Twitter

Teacher and Activist Nina on Instagram 

Teacher Ashot Gabrielyan on Instagram

Assistant of the Human Rights Defender of Artsakh Mary Asatryan on Instagram


The following action kits have information and scripts for calling your political representatives and demanding fair media coverage, as well as additional sources and information: 

Yerazad Coalition: Artsakh Genocide Action Toolkit

Yerazad Coalition: Printable Flyers

International Armenian Literary Alliance: Call to Action for Artsakh

Canada: Tell Your MP’s to Support Human Rights in Artsakh


All for Armenia is collecting donations and coordinating aid for refugees arriving at the border with Armenia. They are also providing updates on their Instagram.

Frontline Therapists is providing psychological support through individual and group work focusing on skill building and self-care activities for children and adults. 

Hayordi is providing aid for families including private rooms with utilities, 3 meals a day and clothing and basic necessities. 

VOMA is collecting donations for training, equipment, and fortifications for military volunteers along Armenia’s border. The Armenian borders have been under Azerbaijani fire for years, and Azerbaijani government officials have made numerous statements claiming the territory of Armenia.


Telegram: Jobs for Artsakh Refugees

Housing for Artsakh Refugees – compilation of resources from Yerazad Coalition