By Akbar Mammadov
Twenty-eight years have passed since Armenia’s occupation of Azerbaijan’s strategically-important Lachyn district as part of Yerevan military aggression against the country.
A brief historical background of the occupation
Armenian forces started shelling the center of Lachyn with heavy artillery following the occupation of Shusha on May 8, 1992.
Launching an attack from the Turshsu area of Shusha and the direction of the Gorus region of Armenia, the Armenian armed forces occupied Lachyn on the night leading to May 18. Thus, most of the adversary forces occupying the district entered through the “Lachyn corridor” that a mountain pass within the internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan, forming the shortest route between Armenia and Karabakh.
Harsh consequences of the occupation of Lachyn
As a result of the occupation, the population of Lachyn district was subjected to ethnic cleansing. Thus, more than 300 military and civilian people were killed and went missing. Currently, 77.700 Lachyn residents live as internally displaced persons (IDP) across different regions of Azerbaijan
Furthermore, Armenia seriously damaged public and private property in the region. Thus, 217 cultural, 101 educational, 142 healthcare, 462 trade, 30 communications, 2 motor vehicles enterprises and various production facilities were looted and destroyed.
Cultural and demographic damage to Lachyn by Armenia
As a result of the occupation, 54 world-famous historical monuments and more than 200 significant historical monuments were subjected to vandalism. Among them is the 6th century “Alban Agoghlan” temple, the fourteenth century “Malik Ajdar” tomb, the mosque in Garagishlag village, and the ancient cemetery in Zabukh village. The Lachyn History Museum and its ancient collection of gold, silver and bronze coins were looted. In addition, a silver handbag, an exhibit of the looted Lachyn History Museum, was sold at “Sotheby's” auction in London for $ 80,000.
Like in the other occupied territories of Azerbaijan, Armenia continues its illegal activities in Lachyn district as well, grossly violating international humanitarian law, as well as its commitments under the Geneva Conventions. Geographic names of the region are changed, natural resources are exploited, illegal infrastructural changes are carried out, and deliberate resettlement policy with the aim of altering the region’s demographic situation is implemented.
Recognition of Armenia’s vandalism by European Court
As it is known, a decision has been adopted in favour of the Azerbaijani nationals who were forcibly displaced from the occupied Lachyn district of Azerbaijan on June 16, 2015, on the case of “Chiragov and others v. Armenia” of European Court of Human Rights, identified violations by Armenia of a number of their rights under the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, namely, those relating to the protection of property, the right to respect for private and family life.
In addition, paragraphs 19 and 20 of the decision also refer to the military attack on the Lachin region, especially the city of Lachin, the airstrikes on Lachin in mid-May 1992. As a result, it has been confirmed that a large number of houses were destroyed, the city was looted and burned, and Lachin and surrounding villages were completely destroyed during the military conflict.
Azerbaijan and Armenia are locked in a conflict over Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh breakaway region, which along with seven adjacent regions was occupied by Armenian forces in a war in the early 1990s. More than 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and around one million were displaced as a result of the large-scale hostilities.
The OSCE Minsk Group co-chaired by the United States, Russia and France has been mediating the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict since the signing of the volatile cease-fire agreement in 1994. The Minsk Group’s efforts have resulted in no progress and to this date, Armenia has failed to abide by the UN Security Council resolutions (822, 853, 874 and 884) that demand the withdrawal of Armenian military forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
Akbar Mammadov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AkbarMammadov97
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