Originally posted in Asbarez.com
The Tatoyan Foundation Center for Law & Justice and U.S.-based law firm Kerkonian Dajani LLP filed a class action lawsuit on July 11 against Mohammad Reza Vaziri, president and chief executive officer of Anglo Asian Mining PLC. The suit stems from Azerbaijan’s seven-month blockade of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) by Azerbaijan.
The federal class action, entitled Lalabekyan v Vaziri, is pending in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia in Washington D.C.
The Complaint alleges that Defendant Vaziri aided and abetted violations of the U.S. Torture Victims Protection Act and the false imprisonment of Artsakh Armenians in an effort to secure access and exploit precious metal deposits in Artsakh, including gold and copper. It details the link between Vaziri’s demanded access to these mines and the blockade.
Azerbaijan’s blockade of Artsakh has precipitated a humanitarian catastrophe in Artsakh, now placing the Artsakh Armenians on the verge of mass starvation.
The federal complaint alleges that Vaziri “substantially encouraged and assisted” Azerbaijan in blockading Artsakh by, among other things, “advising, and/or insisting that the Blockade serve as a mechanism by which to obtain access to the  Mines” and “that the Blockade be maintained, and not be lifted, unless and until Defendant Vaziri, his agents and/or his collaborators are granted access to the [Nagorno-Karabakh] Mines.”
The case seeks certification of a plaintiff class of 120,000 Artsakh Armenians, including 30,000 children, the elderly, and 9000 disabled people—all persons confined and suffering in the blockaded area.
In February 2023, the International Court of Justice ordered Azerbaijan to “ensure unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles and cargo along the Lachin Corridor [the only link between Artsakh and Armenia] in both directions.” The United States, France, the European Union, and numerous other states and international organizations have likewise demanded the unblocking of the Lachin Corridor.
Azerbaijan has not complied. Instead, it has blocked access even to the International Committee of the Red Cross. The federal pleading alleges Defendant Vaziri’s role in “lobbying foreign governments and international institutions to justify, whitewash, and/or divert attention away from the Blockade until Defendant Vaziri, his agents and/or his collaborators were granted access to the [Nagorno-Karabakh] Mines.”
The Complaint alleges that Defendant Vaziri’s actions contributed to massive human suffering including torture, starvation, malnutrition, physical harm, and psychological damage.
Lead attorneys for plaintiffs in the case are international lawyer Karnig Kerkonian and appellate counsel, Elizabeth Al-Dajani. Lawyers and advisors include Arman Tatoyan, Garo Ghazarian, Ani Nazaryan, and Laura Seferian.