Fearing that thousands of Armenians could die this winter from starvation and cold, representatives from the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston have called upon the U.S. government to assist in ending the economic blockade of Armenia.
The blockade was created by Azerbaijan, with whom the Armenians are engaged in a bloody civil war over the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, which sits within Azeri borders.
Azerbaijan has prohibited the import of crucial food and fuel supplies from reaching hungry Armenians.
Most of those familiar with the situation in the region agree that if the Armenians are forced to endure another winter without adequate food and heat, thousands will die.
The Armenian-Jewish Dialogue of the Boston JCRC arrived in Washington last week calling on the U.S. administration to appoint neighboring Turkey as the region’s unofficial peace broker, said George Bachrach, Dialogue co-chair.
Bachrach said that a call from Washington to Ankara could start the peace process rolling.
The Turks and the Armenians are historic bitter adversaries, with roots in the religious differences between the Armenians, an Eastern Orthodox Christian group, and the Turks, who are Muslim. The Azeris are a Turkic, Muslim group.
The area was divided up by the late Soviet autocrat Josef Stalin, who inserted an Armenian area inside an Azeri region in an attempt to deflect ethnic rivalries. It backfired horribly.
The Boston JCRC met with several members of Congress and with a State Department expert on Armenia.
The Jewish community became involved in the effort at the request of the large Armenian community in Boston, according to Barbara Gaffin, the JCRC’s associate director.
“We want to see our government get more involved” in ensuring that the people of Armenia survive this winter, she said.