Rolling Stone has published an open letter from Kim Kardashian and UCLA medical professor Dr. Eric Esrailian to Joe Biden. In the letter, Kardashian and Esrailian ask the United States president to impose sanctions on Azerbaijan due its government’s ongoing aggression against Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region and beyond.
The territory has been disputed for decades. Currently, the area is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but it’s been governed for nearly 30 years — since the first Nagorno-Karabakh War — by the de facto Armenian breakaway Republic of Artsakh. The conflict reached a boiling point again in 2020, and a second Nagorno-Karabakh War broke out.
Since then, despite a cease-fire agreement, the Azerbaijani military has continued to attack Armenian soldiers and blockaded the Lachin Corridor — “ the only lifeline between the indigenous Christian Armenians of Artsakh… and the rest of the world,” according to Kardashian and Esrailian. Their letter cites a report by Luis Moreno Ocampo, the former Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, claiming Azerbaijani aggression has crossed the line into genocide based on Article II, (c) of the 1948 Genocide Convention — “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction.”
“There are no crematories, and there are no machete attacks,” Moreno writes. “Starvation is the invisible Genocide weapon. Without immediate dramatic change, this group of Armenians will be destroyed in a few weeks.”
After laying out the case for classifying the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh as “another genocide” (the first Armenian genocide was carried out by the Ottoman Empire’s ruling party during World War I), Kardashian and Esraillian ask President Biden to impose economic sanctions on Azerbaijan and cut off foreign aid to the country. Additionally, they urge Americans to boycott international events there and ask international courts like the ICC to try Azerbaijani officials for war crimes.
“The people in Artsakh want to live in peace,” they write. “Now is the time for true leadership. We need for those who have a meaningful role in these affairs to immediately demand that the Lachin Corridor is opened to stop another genocide. We want to draw more attention to the crisis and appeal to those in our own government who truly care about humanity to intervene.
“The United States has the ability to mobilize a response,” they continue, addressing Biden more directly. “Leaders who are effective and help our people will be remembered for their heroism. Even if well-meaning, the ones who are inert and ineffective will be remembered for allowing a genocide to take place under their watch. The choice is theirs.”