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Ombudsman issues ad-hoc report on Azerbaijani mine casualties

22 June 2021 12:52 (UTC+04:00)
Ombudsman issues ad-hoc report on Azerbaijani mine casualties

By Vafa Ismayilova

Azerbaijani Human Rights Commissioner Sabina Aliyeva has released an Ad-Hoc Report addressed to international organizations on human casualties caused by Armenian-planted landmines on Azerbaijan's liberated territories during and after the occupation period, the ombudsman office reported on June 21.

The report provides information on a large number of casualties caused by landmines planted by the enemy forces and sabotage groups in both during and post-conflict periods along with the consequences of Armenia's ethnic cleansing and occupation policy against Azerbaijan.

It maintains legal justifications for the violations of international law, as well as the norms and principles of international humanitarian law by Armenia.

The report aims to inform the international community about the facts of planting landmines and other explosive devices by Armenia in 20 percent of Azerbaijani territories, which were held under the occupation for a long time, and violations of the norms and principles of international humanitarian law by refusing to provide all minefield maps by Armenia.

In the report, the ombudsman expressed her concerns about Armenia’s ongoing refusal to provide all landmine maps, ignoring international law and international humanitarian law and human rights, which prevents the return of IDPs, who have been displaced from their homes for 30 years, to their homes and daily lives.

She also calls on international organizations to join efforts to put an end to such violent acts that may lead to the death of innocent people, loss of health, and the emergence of new hotbeds of conflict.

Meanwhile, Trend quoted Aliyeva as saying that Armenia should be held accountable before international law.

"I would like to emphatically declare that the leadership of Armenia, which grossly violated international humanitarian law after the victorious end of hostilities by Azerbaijan under victorious Commander-in-Chief [President Ilham Aliyev's] leadership, should be held accountable [for all war crimes], including for encroachment on the life, health, and rights of children," she said.

She regretted that since the end of the second Karabakh war, over 140 Azerbaijanis have been killed by Armenian-planted anti-personnel and anti-tank mines in the country's formerly occupied territories.

Aliyeva stressed that Azerbaijani servicemen, who carried out humanitarian tasks such as searching for bodies in areas where active hostilities were taking place also became victims of mines.

"Immediately after the explosion of a mine in Azerbaijan's liberated Kalbajar region on June 4, which killed three civilians, including two journalists, and wounded several civilians, Colonel of the Armenian armed forces Gumashyan admitted that he and his soldiers planted 17 trucks of mines in Lachin and in Kalbajar. His confessions once again prove the war crimes committed by the Armenian leadership," Aliyeva said.

The rights commissioner underscored great concern in Azerbaijani society following Gumashyan's remarks.

"This is a clear violation of international humanitarian law with an outright admission of the crime, and those responsible must be brought to justice immediately," she noted.

Aliyeva reiterated that on June 12, 2021, Armenia provided Azerbaijan with mine maps for Aghdam region in exchange for the handover of 15 Armenian detainees back to Yerevan.

The rights commissioner also commented on a video report that Rossiya Segodnya and RT TV channel editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan's children had sung an Armenian nationalist song calling for the murder of Turks.

"I want to note that this video is not the first fact that reflects feelings of hatred and ethnic enmity towards Azerbaijanis, which are instilled in children in Armenian society. We have repeatedly encountered the use of hate speech by minors against Azerbaijanis on social networks and the media, as well as with the involvement of minors of Armenian descent in hostilities during the second Karabakh war. Such parenting methods only increase the atmosphere of tension, confrontation, and revenge," Aliyeva said.

She expressed concern that Simonyan "has chosen this style of raising her young children, as well as that Dashnak terrorist Arakel Mkhtaryan is presented as an exemplary person, and this is a very serious threat to peace in the region".

Armenia deliberately and constantly planted mines on Azerbaijani territories, in violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention, thereby being a major threat to regional peace, security and cooperation.

Azerbaijan has made numerous appeals to international organizations and lodged an intergovernmental complaint to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over Armenia's refusal to provide maps of mines in the formerly occupied territories.

The clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan resumed in autumn 2020 after Armenia's forces deployed in the occupied Azerbaijani lands targeted Azerbaijani civilian settlements and military positions, causing casualties among civilians and the military. In the early hours of September 27, Azerbaijan launched a counter-offensive operation that lasted six weeks. The operation resulted in the liberation of Azerbaijan's occupied lands.

A Russia-brokered ceasefire deal that Azerbaijan and Armenia signed on November 10, 2020, brought an end to the 44-day war between the two countries. The Azerbaijani army declared a victory against the Armenian troops. The signed agreement obliged Armenia to withdraw its troops from the Azerbaijani lands that it had occupied.

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