Friday, September 25, 2015

Your Neutrality is Killing Us

Photo: Suren Manvelyan
Every morning as I make my way to work, sitting in traffic, I wonder if I'll read the news of yet another death...

"Today, a soldier was killed on the frontline."

I know the script by heart. I don't think about how I'm going to phrase the news item anymore. I can do it in my sleep. It's always the same. A soldier is killed by an Azerbaijani sniper. Two soldiers are killed along the southern portion of the Line of Contact. As border villages along the Armenia-Azerbaijan state border come under attack, one soldier is killed and another wounded. Armenia's Defense Ministry has launched an investigation into the Azerbaijani military raid that took the lives of four officers. The Nagorno Karabakh Defense Army extends its condolences to the families of the deceased soldiers. Armenia's armed forces retaliate, successfully quell the aggressor's gunfire.

And so it goes. We've become desensitized to the news from the front lines. They've become a normal part of our day. 

But I lie. They haven't. They never will, because once you see the birthdate next to the name of the dead soldier - 1995, 1996, 1997 - something inside you snaps. It doesn't break you, not yet. You can still hang on a little more because you are made of the strong earth from which you sprang. You can hang on because you are as rugged as the mountains that stretch across the landscape of your conscience.


In less than 48 hours, three peaceful civilians, all women, are killed by Azerbaijani gunfire and four young soldiers die on the Line of Contact. If this isn't a declaration of war, what is?

Sometimes the news of tensions and fighting on the border makes international headlines and we're buoyed by the fact that the world hasn't forgotten this isolated corner of humanity. 

Often, those charged with negotiating for a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict issue a statement. They call on both sides to refrain from actions that will escalate the situation further. Their carefully crafted statements ooze of neutrality. They blame both sides, call for a de-escalation of aggression. By not calling out the aggressor they render their words useless and become impotent to ensure the de-escalation they seem to want so desperately.

The 18 year-old boys standing on the frontiers pay the price.

Your neutrality, gentlemen, is killing us.

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