HART remains deeply concerned by the escalation of military offensives by Azerbaijan and Turkey against the historically-Armenian land of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh). Civilian areas continue to be targeted with tanks, helicopters, drones, heavy artillery, multiple-launch rocket systems, including Smerch, and cluster bombs – in contravention of international law.
Reports of renewed offensives:
The shelling of Shushi cathedral, a civilian and cultural heritage site, which constitutes a war crime under international law.
The recruitment and mobilisation of foreign mercenaries and Jihadist fighters from Syria, Libya, Pakistan and Afghanistan transported from Turkey to Azerbaijan to fight against Armenians.
Cases of torture and atrocities, including reports that Azeri forces beheaded an Armenian soldier.
Large-scale damages to residential buildings and schools, as well as to infrastructure vital to the survival of the civilian population.
After the Governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan reached an agreement on the establishment of humanitarian ceasefire on 18 October, an attempt was made to reach an agreement to withdraw wounded soldiers from the battlefield, through the mediation of the International Committee of the Red Cross. The initiative was categorically rejected by Azerbaijan.
Responding to these reports, Baroness Cox said:
“Without an immediate cessation of hostilities, there is a very real risk of ethnic cleansing of the Armenian population in Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh). The scale and ferocity of recent offensives – and the suffering inflicted on innocent civilians – has intensified the palpable and (given past and recent history) justifiable fear among local people.
*“There is no place here for moral equivalence. Nor is it sufficient for the UK Government and its allies merely to urge each side to seek dialogue and to avoid violence. *
“We urge all who care about this dire and dangerous situation to: (1) take immediate steps to promote de-escalation of the conflict; (2) make urgent representations to the Government of Turkey to cease its military and political support for Azerbaijan, including the deployment of foreign mercenaries and Jihadist fighters; and (3) support the century-long cry for self-determination by the people of Nagorno Karabakh.”
Click here for further information about the history of the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict.
Click here for a summary of the current legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh and its legitimate claim to self-determination.