FM's letter on Armenian crimes issued as official UN document
By Sabina Mammadli
The UN General Assembly and Security Council have circulated a letter from Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres about the discovery of mass graves in liberated Khojavand region's Edilli village and Fuzuli city as an official document.
In the letter, dated March 2, 2022, Bayramov drew attention to the plight of about 4,000 Azerbaijanis, who went missing in the first Karabakh war in the early 1990s.
He stated that as a result of the search operation and investigative measures, new mass graves have been identified in the Edilli village of Azerbaijan's Khojavand region and on the territory of Fuzuli city based on eyewitness testimony. According to him, the remains, which are thought to be those of six or seven Azerbaijanis who have been missing since the early 1990s, have been exhumed and collected by the investigation team for further medical examination and genetic testing.
The letter added that Azerbaijani civilians and servicemen who managed to escape Armenian captivity confirmed in their testimonies that the bodies of dozens of Azerbaijanis were transferred in military trucks and buried in mass graves in the aforementioned areas after being subjected to torture, degrading, and other inhumane treatment, as well as subsequent arbitrary and extrajudicial killings.
According to eyewitness accounts and investigative materials, the discovered remains are only a small portion of the area's mass graves, and as a result, search operations are currently underway to locate the other burial sites.
"The fact that Azerbaijani prisoners of war and civilian captives have themselves been forced to the transfer and mass burial of the bodies itself speaks of the gravity and brutality of crimes committed by the armed forces of Armenia, its agents, and subordinates," the letter stated.
Furthermore, the letter stated that, in addition to cruel treatment and torture that resulted in the deaths of dozens of prisoners of war and civilian hostages, the perpetrators committed other serious war crimes by failing to ensure that the dead were interred honorably, their graves respected and properly maintained, and marked in accordance with international humanitarian law.
Bayramov emphasized that despite growing evidence, the perpetrators remain unpunished because Armenia has taken no steps to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by its agents and subordinates.
He also expressed concern that, despite ongoing calls from Azerbaijan, including high-level discussions with Armenia, the latter will not clarify the location of burial sites, mass graves, or the fate of missing Azerbaijanis.
"Given the extreme importance of addressing the issue of missing persons for the rule of law, justice, as well as post-conflict normalization and reconciliation, the strong engagement of the international community is therefore vital," continued the letter.
It also urged the UN Secretary-General to compel Armenia to provide all available information in order to determine the fate of thousands of Azerbaijanis who disappeared in the early 1990s.
"Bringing clarity to the whereabouts of all missing persons and full accountability for the grave international humanitarian law violations committed against them are essential elements for achieving lasting reconciliation after a bloody conflict,” stated the letter.
Baku earlier stated that the plight of missing Azerbaijanis is a top priority on its agenda.
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Leyla Abdullayeva made the remarks in response to a query about why Armenia had waited 30 years to share any information about 4,000 missing Azerbaijanis.
"I would like to emphasize that the Azerbaijani side prioritizes the issue of missing people and will not allow the Armenian side, which is directly responsible for this issue, to remain silent for another 30 years about the fate of over 3,700 missing Azerbaijanis and the location of their mass burial places," Abdullayeva said.
Azerbaijan handed over the remains of over 1,700 servicemen to Armenia immediately after the 44-day second Karabakh war, without expecting any reciprocal action and without receiving any information from Yerevan about thousands of Azerbaijanis who went missing during the first Karabakh war, the spokesperson added.
Abdullayeva said that the discovery of massive graves of Azerbaijanis on the liberated territories and the provision of the international community with evidence resulted in Armenia transferring the remains of 108 of thousands of missing people after 30 years.
She stressed that Armenia had yet to make a statement on the abovementioned subject.
On February 8, the Foreign Ministry stated that humanitarian issues were one of the main topics of a virtual meeting attended by French President Emanuel Macron, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, European Council President Charles Michel and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on February 4.
At the meeting, Aliyev underlined that Armenia had to provide information about the mass graves of 3,890 missing Azerbaijani citizens (including 71 children, 267 women and 326 elderly people). The presidents of France and the European Council both supported this issue.
Armenia, which is responsible for determining the fate of about 4,000 missing Azerbaijani citizens, promised to cooperate in this matter.
The ministry stated that Armenia's later denial of its international humanitarian obligations, as well as promises made during the abovementioned meeting, is completely outside the moral, ethical, and legal framework in light of Azerbaijan's discovery and return of the bodies of 1,708 Armenian servicemen.
It should be mentioned that in the 20th century, Armenians perpetrated systematic crimes and atrocities against Azerbaijanis to break the spirit of the nation and annihilate the Azerbaijani people of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Khojaly genocide is regarded as the culmination of Armenian mass murders.
Some 613 Azerbaijanis, including 63 children, 106 women and 70 elders were brutally murdered on the ground of national identity in Khojaly in 1992.
This heinous act was preceded by a slew of others. Armenians set fire to around 20 buildings in the Baghanis-Ayrim village of Gazakh region, killing eight Azerbaijanis. A family of five, including a 39-day-old newborn, were all burnt alive.
Between June and December 1991, Armenian troops murdered 12 and wounded 15 Azerbaijanis in Khojavand region's Garadaghli and Asgaran region's Meshali villages.
Armenian military detachments bombed buses on the Shusha-Jamilli, Aghdam-Khojavand, and Aghdam-Garadaghli routes in August and September of the same year, killing 17 Azerbaijanis and injuring over 90 others.
In October and November 1991, Armenians burned, destroyed, and plundered over 30 settlements in the mountainous area of Karabakh, including Tugh, Imarat-Garvand, Sirkhavand, Meshali, Jamilli, Umudlu, Garadaghli, Karkijahan, and other significant villages.
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