Azerbaijan’s War Crimes

Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART) –  November 2020

         The Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART) has issued a detailed report of Azerbaijani war crimes –from the barbaric maltreatment of POW’s to the desecration of churches and cemeteries to genocide. Titled “Grief and Courage,” the report is the most detailed, so far, to be published about Azerbaijani atrocities following the 44-day invasion of Artsakh by Azerbaijani, Turkish, Jihadist mercenaries, and possibly Pakistani troops.

“We have a Gospel of love. Whatever demonic forces are at work, not only in this war but anywhere in the world, we must never hate; we must still love – we must always love.” Archbishop Parkev Martirosyan

The forward by Baroness Cox and Revd David Thomas highlights that “We always say about the people of Nagorno Karabakh that they do not just survive; they create beauty from the ashes of destruction. Even during these darkest days of war, it has been humbling and inspiring to witness the ‘Spirit of Armenia’ rising like a Phoenix from the ashes of death and destruction, as the people share the love of their land, their history and their rich culture of music, dance and art, all in the context of the breath-taking beauty of their land’s rugged mountains, thick forests, fertile valleys and crystal rivers.”

Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART) has raised urgent priorities, including those of local Armenians from Nagarno Karabakh, in their November 2020 Special Visit Report. The report further highlights how Azerbaijani-Turkish military offensives heighten the fears of ethnic cleansing of local people, of whom as many as 100,000 have been displaced and thousands killed.

Maltreatment of prisoners: Despite a ceasefire, reports of brutality against military and civilian prisoners continue to emerge, including torture and beheadings, with claims that the Red Cross is unable to visit many detainees.

Violations of international law: Azerbaijan, supported by Turkey, reportedly targeted civilians with tanks, helicopters, drones, heavy artillery, multiple-launch rocket systems, including Smerch, and cluster bombs – in breach of international humanitarian law and Geneva conventions.

Genocidal policies: According to a Genocide Emergency Alert issued in October 2020 by Genocide Watch, Azerbaijan had reached stage 9, ‘extermination’, and stage 10, ‘denial’ of the ten stages of the genocidal process.

War of Terror: The adoption of tactics of terror reflects a deep hatred of Armenians, stretching back over 100 years to the Armenian Genocide, and is reinforced by an unprecedented rise in state-backed anti-Armenian rhetoric.

Self-determination: The Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh have sufficient evidence to claim the same right of independence as the people of Timor Leste, Eritrea and Kosovo, who were awarded self-determination for suffering comparable attempted ethnic cleansing.

No more impunity: There is now an urgent need to end the impunity with which Azerbaijan, supported by NATO-member Turkey, has carried out such systematic, wide-ranging and brutal violations of human rights. To date, neither state has been held to account for its actions by the international community, despite evidence of recent and ongoing atrocities and war crimes.

Treatment of prisoners: We watched video evidence of brutality inflicted on military and civilian prisoners, including torture and beheadings, and heard claims that equivalent brutalities have been perpetrated by foreign jihadist fighters who receive payment for every Armenian beheaded. All relevant international authorities must take effective measures to prevent Azerbaijan from abusing and killing these prisoners, whom they have already captured or may capture during the ceasefire evacuation.6

Humanitarian aid: Over 14,000 civilian structures in Nagorno Karabakh were reportedly damaged or destroyed during 45 days of conflict, including schools, hospitals, roads or electricity networks. Heavy shelling has also caused significant displacement of the civilian population. An urgent plan of protection, economic support and development is needed to create an environment that makes it easier for people to return.

Safeguarding cultural and religious sites: There is a deep fear that Azerbaijan will destroy Armenian Christian monuments and cultural heritage sites in territories under its control, including churches and holy crosses as they did in Nakhichevan. The OSCE Minsk Group should define these sites and artefacts (some of which are 1,500 years old) as vulnerable targets and ensure that comprehensive measures are in place for an immediate response to an attack.

Suspension of military supplies: American-led NATO, the Russian-led CSTO, and the Government of Israel must suspend the provision of all lethal and non-lethal military supplies and technical assistance to Azerbaijan until Azerbaijan renounces the use of violence against the Armenian Christians of Nagorno Karabakh.

Chemical weapons investigation: The use of chemical incendiaries, possibly phosphorus, is extremely dangerous for civilians as and livestock. There are photographs taken by reputable sources of people suffering from serious burns and of killed animals. The use of such weapons would ignite the very woodlands to which civilians had been forced to flee. We urge the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to undertake an investigation to establish whether chemical weapons have been used and to ensure assistance to protect civilians against the effects of such an attack.

Full Report: Grief and Courage in Nagorno Karabakh


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