Dec 092016
 

The report released by the Human Rights Defender (Ombudsman) of Artsakh Republic highlights the war crimes committed by Azerbaijan during the 4-day war in April, 2016 (torture, execution and mutilation of dead bodies). The findings are based on the results of Ombudsman’s fact-finding mission and the publicly available information.

The conclusions of the report are as follows:

  1. During the 2016 April war, the Azerbaijani AF committed war crimes of torture, execution, and mutilation. The war crimes had a systemic and well-organized nature, as they were committed in all three areas by all the regiments of the Azerbaijani armed forces that established control over the NKR civilians or NKDA servicemen on April 2, 2016.
  2. None of the 3 civilians and, presumably, the 4 combatants hors de combats survived the control of the Azerbaijani armed forces. Their murders seem to be executions merely for being Armenian.
  3. 27 out of the 31 NKR civilians and NKDA servicemen (about 90%), who fell under control of the Azerbaijani armed forces as a result of the Azerbaijani military aggression against NKR, were tortured, executed, or mutilated.
  4. All the NKR civilians under Azerbaijani control were executed and mutilated. One of them, a 92 year old woman, was also tortured.
  5. Three NKDA servicemen were beheaded. Two of them were beheaded postmortem, and one was executed by ISIS-style decapitation.
  6. The most widespread war crime was mutilation (24 cases), including 21 cases of ear cuts-offs. There were 5 cases of torture (including hands cut off, and throats cut). There were 7 cases of execution, mostly by gun-shots.
  7. Under the IHL, Azerbaijan bears State Responsibility for the war crimes of its armed forces, and has an obligation to investigate and properly prosecute the perpetrators and others who bear responsibility. The perpetrators and their commanders are also individually responsible.

File: Second Interim Report on Atrocities committed by Azerbaijan during the 2016 April War
Source: Artsakh Ombudsman (Human Rights Defender) Continue reading »

Mar 172016
 

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), established by the Council of Europe, is an independent human rights monitoring body specialised in questions relating to racism and intolerance. It is composed of independent and impartial members appointed on the basis of their moral authority and recognised expertise in dealing with racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance.

In the framework of its statutory activities, ECRI conducts country monitoring work, which analyses the situation in each of the member States regarding racism and intolerance and draws up suggestions and proposals for dealing with the problems identified.

Here is what the 2016 ERCI report on Azerbaijan says about recurrent hate speech towards Armenians:

25. Other sources confirm recurrent hate speech towards Armenians, which is connected with the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, the frequent ceasefire violations at the contact line and the resulting deaths and injuries. The Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (ACFC) for example noted “a persistent public narrative surrounding the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh identifying [in]variably Armenia or Armenians as ‘the enemy’ and openly promulgating hate messages”. According to other sources, there is a conflict-ridden domestic political discourse and Azerbaijan’s leadership, education system and media are very prolific in their denigration of Armenians. Political opponents are accused of having Armenian roots or of receiving funds from Armenian sources. An entire generation of Azerbaijanis has now grown up listening to constant rhetoric of Armenian aggression. According to a 2012 survey, 91% perceived Armenia as Azerbaijan’s greatest enemy. As a result, the Armenians living in the country need to hide their ethnic affiliation and there is no organisation of the Armenian minority in the country with which ECRI’s delegation could have met. The human rights activists Leyla and Arif Yunus, who worked inter alia towards reconciliation with Armenia, have been arrested and sentenced under controversial accusations to heavy prison terms. Both were conditionally released at the end of 2015.

[…]

38. ECRI has not received any official information about violent hate crime based on ethnic affiliation committed in Azerbaijan in the last five years, but, given the ongoing conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, ECRI is concerned that the on-going waves of hate speech create a risk of violence. In this connection ECRI expressed, in a press release of 4 September 2012, its consternation at the pardoning and release of Ramil Safarov, shortly after he had been transferred from Hungary to Azerbaijan in order to serve there a sentence of life imprisonment imposed by a Budapest court for the murder of an Armenian army officer in 2004. Moreover, Ramil Safarov was promoted to the rank of major, given a flat and the pay he had lost since his arrest in Hungary. In its press release, ECRI pointed out the risk that such action could cultivate a sense of impunity for the perpetrators of racist crimes of the most serious nature.


File: 2016 ERCI Report on Azerbaijan
Source: Publications, European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)

Mar 312011
 

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) was established by the Council of Europe. It is an independent human rights monitoring body specialised in questions relating to racism and intolerance. It is composed of independent and impartial members, who are appointed on the basis of their moral authority and recognised expertise in dealing with racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance.

In the framework of its statutory activities, ECRI conducts country-by-country monitoring work, which analyses the situation in each of the member States regarding racism and intolerance and draws up suggestions and proposals for dealing with the problems identified.

Here is what the 2011 ERCI report on Azerbaijan says about discrimination against persons of Armenian origin:

98. As mentioned in other parts of this report, persons of Armenian origin are at risk of being discriminated against in their daily lives. Certain people born of mixed Armenian-Azerbaijani marriages choose to use the name of their Azerbaijani parent so as to avoid problems in their contacts with officialdom; others who did not immediately apply for Azerbaijani identity documents when the former Soviet passports were done away with today encounter difficulties in obtaining identity papers. These problems and the prejudice reigning within society with regard to Armenians also cause serious difficulties of access to social rights.

99. ECRI is still deeply concerned about the fact that the constant negative official and media discourse concerning the Republic of Armenia helps to sustain a negative climate of opinion regarding people of Armenian origin coming under the Azerbaijani authorities’ jurisdiction. This prejudice is so ingrained that describing someone as an Armenian in the media is considered by some people – including by certain Armenians themselves – to qualify as an insult that justifies initiating judicial proceedings against the persons making such statements. ECRI underlines the seriousness of this situation, where it seems that persons belonging to the group discriminated against in this way may themselves have interiorised this discriminatory attitude.

100. ECRI is moreover puzzled by the contradictory information it has received as to the number of persons of Armenian origin currently living in Azerbaijan. On the basis of the previous census, 120 700 Armenians were living in Azerbaijan in 1999. The authorities have indicated that the number of Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh or the areas affected by the conflict over it could be estimated at about 120 000, in line with the results of the last census carried out in the region during the Soviet era. Outside those areas, 700 people declared themselves as being of Armenian origin. In view of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and the areas affected by the conflict over it, it was again not possible to count the real number of Armenians living in this part of the country during the census carried out in 2009; the estimated figure of 120 000 will accordingly be deemed still current for these areas and only the figure of 700, corresponding to the number of persons actually counted in the remainder of Azerbaijani territory, is likely to change. ECRI points out that these explanations, albeit clear, differ strikingly from the figure of 30 000 Armenians living in the parts of Azerbaijan under the Azerbaijani authorities’ effective control, which is regularly cited by the authorities. ECRI considers that questions can be raised as to the reasons why less than 3% of those concerned are prepared officially to declare themselves as belonging to this group. Thought should be given, inter alia, to the measures that might be taken to eliminate the prejudices and stereotyping existing within the majority population that can give rise to discriminatory attitudes towards persons of Armenian origin.

101. ECRI refers to the recommendations made in other parts of this report concerning the need to adopt an appropriate response to all cases of discrimination and hate speech against Armenians, and to its recommendations concerning the application of the relevant legal provisions. It considers that the Azerbaijani authorities should actively contribute to generating a climate where all persons of Armenian origin living in Azerbaijan can declare their ethnic origin without fear.


File: 2011 ERCI Report on Azerbaijan
Source: Publications, European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)

Sep 052008
 

The Mujahedin in Nagorno-Karabakh: A Case Study in the Evolution of Global Jihad (WP)

Michael Taarnby
WP 20/2008 – 9/5/2008

Introduction
The current volume of publications dealing with Islamist militancy and terrorism defies belief in terms of its contents. This can be perceived as part of a frantic effort to catch up for the lack of attention devoted to this phenomenon during the 1980s and 1990s, when this field of research field was considerably underdeveloped. The present level of research activity is struggling to keep pace with developments. Thus, it is primarily preoccupied with attempting to describe what is actually happening in the world right now and possibly to explain future developments. This is certainly a worthwhile effort, but the topic of this paper is a modest attempt to direct more attention and interest towards the much overlooked sub-field of historical research within Jihadi studies.

The global Jihad has a long history, and everyone interested in this topic will be quite familiar with the significance of Afghanistan in fomenting ideological support for it and for bringing disparate militant groups together through its infamous training camps during the 1990s. However, many more events have been neglected by the research community to the point where most scholars and analysts are left with an incomplete picture, that is most often based on the successes of the Jihadi groups. Yet there are plenty of examples of failures which have rarely been placed in the larger context and a thorough understanding of these events would undoubtedly provide a much more nuanced picture of the Jihad. Examples such as al-Qaeda’s failure to establish itself in the Horn of Africa and its exodus from Sudan, the lack of local support for the foreign Mujahedin in Bosnia or the more general failure to unite disparate Jihadi groups all provide stimulus for further inquiry. The framework of this particular sub-field would require systematic studies on overlooked and underexploited historical events within Jihadi studies, and this would obviously include obscure militant groups and events.

Somewhat ironically, the only known effort to compile historical case studies with the aim of learning from past mistakes has been undertaking by the Jihadis themselves. The seminal work of Abu Musab al-Suri in his The Global Islamic Resistance Call is little known outside Jihadi ideological circles, yet al-Suri spent several years during a self-imposed sabbatical from the Jihad to devise a new concept of Jihadi warfare. Considering the thought put into this massive 1600-page treaty one has no option but to conclude that he succeeded. Few Western scholars have approached this important book with the respect it deserves, the exception being Brynjar Lia in his equally seminal Architect of Global Jihad.[1]

The sub-field of historical Jihadi studies is wide open to anyone seriously interested in acquiring a deeper understanding of the development of the Jihad. There are plenty of failed militant Islamist groups, lost battles, strategic blunders and vicious ideological strife to examine. They all represent a minuscule part of a large mosaic that, when properly pieced together and understood, will eventually present a much more comprehensive picture of the development of the global Jihad over the past three decades. This is indeed an interesting historical journey and one that presents a number of surprises even for the initiated. The following case study on the Mujahedin who fought in Nagorno-Karabakh is exactly one such very small piece, yet for all its obscurity it sheds light on several subsequent events linked to the Jihad.

See the Full Paper: Elcano Royal Institute – PDF Version or HTML Version

Apr 031996
 

FACT SHEET: NAGORNO-KARABAGH

ARMENIAN RESEARCH CENTER

The University of Michigan-Dearborn

Dearborn, MI 48128

The Autonomous Region of Mountainous Karabagh (also known in America as Nagorno-Karabagh) recently declared independence from Azerbaijan because of continued persecution, oppression, and human and civil rights violations by the Azeri Turks. It was attached to Azerbaijan as an Autonomous Region by Joseph Stalin in 1921 and has suffered under Azeri rule from that time onward.
Mountainous Karabagh had a pre-war population of approximately 200,000 people, 77% of whom were Christian Armenians. The remaining 23% were mainly Muslim Azeri Turks. Nagorno-Karabagh’s capital is Stepanakert. It has an area of about 1,700 square miles, slightly smaller than the state of Delaware.

  • On December 10, 1991, Nagorno-Karabagh held an independence referendum in which 82% of all voters participated, and 99% voted for independence.
  • On January 6, 1992, the leaders of Nagorno-Karabagh declared independence as the Republic of Mountainous Karabagh (RMK).
  • On January 8, 1992, Artur Mkrtchian was elected President and Oleg Yessaian as Prime Minister of Karabagh by Karabagh’s Parliament. Note that this Presidency is not an independent office such as in the United States.
  • On January 24, 1992, Karabagh’s Parliament elected Georgi Petrosian to the office of Vice President.
  • On April 14, Artur Mkrtchian died in an accidental weapons misfire. Georgi Petrosian became acting President.
  • On May 8, the Karabagh Defense Forces took Shushi, a city in Karabagh overlooking Stepanakert, from which the Azeris had been shelling Stepanakert.
  • On May 18, the Karabagh Defense Forces took Lachin and connected Karabagh to Armenia, thus breaking the Azeri economic blockade on Karabagh (however, Armenia’s situation was not much better since it too was—and still is—under Azeri blockade).
  • On June 12, following the June 7 election of Abulfez Elchibey as President of Azerbaijan, the Azeris launched a massive offensive that seized almost half of Karabagh by September. Beginning in late fall, the Karabagh Defense Forces retook nearly all of these territories and restored the political integrity of Karabagh by late March 1993.
  • On March 27, 1993, the Karabagh Defense Forces, to forestall an Azeri spring offensive, launched attacks at two strategic Azeri cities, Kelbajar and Fizuli. They took Kelbajar on April 3, but were unable to take Fizuli. The capture of Kelbajar gave Karabagh a new connection to Armenia.
  • On June 14, acting President Georgi Petrosian resigned as Armenian President Levon Ter Petrosian travels to Stepanakert to persuade the Presidium of Karabagh’s Parliament to accept a new CSCE peace plan, which it does by a vote of 6 to 5. Garen Baburian became the new acting President.
  • June through August 1993 was a time of confusion in Azerbaijan as Surat Huseinov led a revolt against Elchibey; Haidar Aliyev became the new President of Azerbaijan; and a short-lived Mughan-Talish Republic was declared in Lenkoran, a port city near the Iranian border.
  • July 23 to September 4 1993, Karabagh Defense Forces take Agdam, Fizuli, Jebrail, and Horadiz (although Horadiz keeps changing hands), thus taking the war to the rest of Azerbaijan.
  • From December 22, 1993, to November 1994, the re-formed Azeri army, stiffened by Turkish and MegaOil (renegade Americans) training; Ukrainian, Turkish, and Chinese weaponry; and Afghan mujaheddin, launched new unsuccessful attacks on Karabagh.
  • In May of 1994 a tenuous cease-fire went into effect, which is still holding today.
  • December 28, 1994, The Karabagh Parliament created an independent Presidency such as in the United States and elected Robert Kocharian to fill it the next day.

Historical Background:

Historically Armenian, Nagorno-Karabagh was connected to Armenia in ancient times, a connection that was lost after the division of the Armenian Kingdom in 387 AD. With the rise of Islam in the seventh century, Karabagh fell under Arab rule, where it stayed for 300 years.

In the eleventh century, Karabagh came under the rule of the Bagratid Kings of Georgia, relatives of the Armenian Bagratids, who held it until the Mongol invasion. After 100 years of Mongol rule, Karabagh fell into Turkish hands, where it stayed until the Persians took power in the early 1600s.

In 1603, Shah Abbas the Great of Persia allowed local Armenian rule in Karabagh under five meliks (kings). These five kinglets, later joined—but not supplanted—by a Muslim khanate, survived until the Russian conquest of Karabagh in 1828.

Under Russian rule, a deliberate effort was made to link Karabagh economically with the “Baku Province,” later to be named Azerbaijan. With the withdrawal of Russian power following the Russian democratic revolution in February/March of 1917, Karabagh reemerged as a state, governed by the Assembly of Karabagh Armenians.

The Azerbaijanis, who were trying to organize their own state, contested the Armenians’ right to rule Karabagh, even though it was overwhelmingly Armenian. The Azeris first turned for help to the British occupation force led by General Dunsterville, then to the Ottoman army under Nuri Pasha, and finally to the Russian Bolsheviks. With foreign aid, they won out.

Soviet Period:

At first the Soviets returned Nagorno-Karabagh to Armenia; but after a brief period, Joseph Stalin gave it to Azerbaijan as an “autonomous region,” and altered the boundaries so that Karabagh was cut off from Armenia and was smaller in size.

The next 70-plus years witnessed Azeri persecution of Armenians in an attempt to drive them out and replace them with Azeris, as was done in the Armenian territory of Nakhichevan.

In the Gorbachev era of glasnost, the Armenians brought the persecution of their brethren to the world’s attention through massive peaceful demonstrations in Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia, in February 1988.

By openly and bravely protesting Soviet ethnic injustice for the first time, the reform movement in Nagorno-Karabagh ignited the independence movements in the Soviet Bloc of Eastern Europe. The “Karabagh Movement” is thus the grandfather of freedom not only in Eastern Europe but in the former USSR itself.

At that time the Armenians wanted to attach Nagorno-Karabagh to Armenia, to ensure its survival, but now they respect the wishes of the Nargorno-Karabagh Armenians to be independent. The independence movement has been met with appalling violence from the Azeris. In February 1988 there was a pogrom (massacre) against Armenians in Sumgait, a suburb of Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. In November of 1988, there was a pogrom against Armenians in Kirovabad (now Ganja), in the interior of Azerbaijan. In 1989-90, there are joint Soviet-Azerbaijani forced deportations of Armenians living in towns and villages of Azerbaijan bordering Nagorno- Karabagh. In January of 1990, there was pogrom against Armenians in Baku itself.

When the Azeris began an outright military assault on the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabagh itself, they took up arms to defend their homes, their land, and their ancient culture. The Armenians are fighting for self-preservation and for the right of self- determination, while the Azeris are fighting to expel an ancient people from their historic homeland and to preserve power over a foreign province.

Today, a tenous cease-fire is in place and has been holding for the past 16 months. However, the Azeris number eight million and have a wealth of oil resources to draw upon in the coming years, and the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabagh only 160,000 and scant resources. Very little would prevent the Azeris from reopening hostilities and starting a full-scale war once the oil money enters its coffers. A genocide similar to that of 1915 is threatened unless the world takes an interest in and protects the lives of the embattled Armenian minority.

Despite numerous acts of provocation on the part of Azerbaijan—including a six-year-old blockade of Armenia—the Armenian government has studiously avoided being drawn into the war between the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabagh and the Azeri leaders in Baku. In October 1992, the US Congress enacted legislation banning direct US assistance to the government of Azerbaijan until the blockade is lifted and the aggression ends.

The six-year-old war has taken the lives of more than 16,000 people, and over 1,000,000 have been displaced. Azerbaijan currently has 600,000-1,000,000 refugees, Armenia 400,000 refugees, and Nagorno-Karabagh 60,000 refugees.

Current Issues:

  • The United States and the United Nations should recognize the independence of the Republic of Mountainous Karabagh.
  • Azeri leaders and Turkish leaders should reduce belligerent talk and cease to incite their people to war.
  • Azerbaijan should cease hiring mujaheddin and other foreign mercenaries.
  • Turkey should no longer train and supply Azerbaijani troops and should cease threatening gestures towards Armenia.
  • Azerbaijan and Turkey should cease their illegal blockades of Armenia and Karabagh, which have caused untold suffering and death for the civilian population of Armenia.
  • A permanent truce must be agreed upon and enforced.
  • United Nations troops should be sent in to monitor a self- determination plebiscite.

Current Situation

The current situation is one of “no peace, no war.” Negotiations continue, but with Azerbaijan insisting on the principle of “territorial integrity” (despite the fact that Eritrea was recognized by the world community as independent from Ethiopia after a war), little progress has been made.

April 3, 1996

Dec 101991
 

On September 10, 1991, a group of independent observers arrived in the Nagorno Karabakh Republic for observing the course of the referendum on the status of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic.

The observers worked in the town of Stepanakert, the Askeran, Hadrut, Martakert, Martuni, and Shahumian regions. The observers visited over 30 polling stations and observed the process of votes’ calculation.

The independent observers state that:

The preparation, conduction, and summing-up of the referendum were carried out in accordance with the “Temporary Provision on the Conduction of a Referendum in the Nagorno Karabakh Republic”. 81 polling districts were created in the NKR territory. The districts list and the addresses of the electoral commissions were published in “Soviet Karabakh” newspaper. The voters’ list comprised 132.328 citizens eligible to vote.

The question of the referendum was formulated as follows: “Do you accept that the proclaimed Nagorno Karabakh Republic be an independent state independently determining the forms of cooperation with other states and communities?” Continue reading »