Ombudsman of Azerbaijan sent a letter to the CoE Commissioner for Human Rights

The Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman) of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ms. Sabina Aliyeva sent a letter to the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Dunja Mijatović. The letter reads as follows:

“As you know the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan has been ended by the trilateral agreement signed by the leaders of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Russia on the 10th of November 2020. Due to this conflict, which lasted for almost 30 years, 20 percent of the territory of Azerbaijan has been under the occupation of Armenia and more than one million Azerbaijanis have been forcibly displaced facing great humanitarian tragedies.

Since its establishment, the Ombudsman Institution of Azerbaijan has, many times, informed your Office about the gross violations of human rights of those people who could not return to their native lands and had to live as IDPs in different regions of Azerbaijan.

The UN Security Council Resolutions 822, 853, 874, and 884 adopted in 1993 clearly indicated and condemned the occupation of the Azerbaijani lands and expressed grave concern at the displacement of large numbers of civilians in Azerbaijan. These documents called for immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all occupying forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and requested the relevant international agencies to assist displaced persons to return to their homes in security and dignity. Nevertheless, we did not witness any attempt by your side to call on Armenian authorities to implement the mentioned resolutions and help the IDPs to return to their homes.

Even the European Court of Human Rights in its judgment on “Chiragov and others v. Armenia” recalled Armenia’s obligations towards the Azerbaijanis who had to flee during the conflict. The Court stresses that Armenian and Armenian-backed troops in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan prevent the return of Azerbaijani IDPs to their lands.

We have many times brought to your attention the situation of the hostages, Dilgam Askerov and Shahbaz Guliyev who had been in captivity of Armenia for six years. They were illegally taken hostage by the armed forces of Armenia while visiting their homelands and subjected to torture and ill-treatment. We issued statements and a report in this regard and sent to all relevant international human rights organizations, including your Office. But unfortunately, we did not receive any response from your side on this case.

In the period of counter-offensive operations for the liberation of the occupied territories of Azerbaijan in compliance with the above-mentioned international documents, I conducted several fact-finding missions in the residential areas, which were subjected to missile attacks by Armenia and issued seven thematic reports based on the outcomes. Those reports reflected blatant indiscriminate attacks by using banned munitions, which caused hundreds of civilian casualties in Azerbaijan. The shelling of the densely populated areas in Ganja and Barda, as well as other cities and districts of Azerbaijan far from the zone of active hostilities, has resulted in the death of innocent civilians, including children, women, and the elderly. Those attacks obviously constitute war crimes. The noted above reports were also sent to all relevant international human rights organizations, along with your Office. But unfortunately, we again witnessed no reaction from your side to these violations of human rights and humanitarian law.

We consider that the long-standing silence before the violations of human rights, unwillingness to implement the international law, disrespect for the territorial integrity of another state embolden the perpetrators and lead to further violations of human rights. So, the continuation of the occupation for almost thirty years and blatant disrespect for the internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan is the obvious result of this attitude. 

I am of the opinion that you, as the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, have to express your regret not about a military trophy park created for future generations as a lesson commemorating dangers of the policy of aggression and intolerance, but about destructions, plundering and acts of vandalism committed against hundreds of historical monuments, dozens of museums, mosques and cultural heritage in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan and condemn it.

There are still hundreds of thousands of unmarked landmines remained in the territories of Azerbaijan which were planted by Armenia during the period of their occupation. Dozens of civilians were killed or severely injured due to these mines so far. We many times raised this issue before the relevant international organizations and still expect their response to call on Armenia to provide the maps of these landmines to prevent further casualties. 

In view of all the above, I once again would like to ask you as an impartial institution to call on Armenia to provide Azerbaijan with minefield maps and stop the violations of human rights.

I look forward to close cooperation with your Office for the protection and promotion of human rights in the light of fairness and impartiality.”