Armenian Civil Society Appeal to Human Rights Institutions

Just after midnight on September 13, Azerbaijan launched a large-scale attack and invasion of the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia shelling civilians, civilian infrastructure, and other civilian objects along Armenia’s eastern border and deeper beyond the frontline. Planned beforehand, the Azerbaijani forces used combat drones, artillery, and large caliber firearms. As a result, Armenia has 207 killed or missing servicemembers, 5 killed civilians, and hundreds of wounded, more than 7600 civilians have been internally displaced. For a country with less than 3 million population, these numbers are significant.

The decades-long state-sponsored propaganda of hatred and intolerance towards Armenians in Azerbaijan is evident here. Aside from the evidence of ill-treatment, torture, humiliation, mutilation, and execution of Armenian prisoners of war, during the recent attacks, Azerbaijani servicemen have also stripped naked, tortured, and executed female Armenian servicemembers. Dozens of graphic videos depicting the inhuman treatment and execution of Armenian servicemembers, and civilians have been voluntarily shared and disseminated on social networks by Azerbaijani servicemen, speaking to an absence of a fear of punishment.  The especially horrific treatment of Armenian female servicemembers qualifies as gravest gender-based violence. The cause of this behavior is deeply rooted misogyny of Azerbaijani servicemen and society at large as proven also by the encouragement and normalization of these offenses on social media by Azerbaijani users.

On September 16, 2021, Armenia filed a case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Azerbaijan to combat Azerbaijan’s state-sponsored policy of armenophobia, from which Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia have been subjected to systemic discrimination, killings, and torture. On August 30, 2022, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination published its Concluding observations on Azerbaijan expressing its concerns and recommendations to Azerbaijan stating that “(4) the Committee is deeply concerned about: (c) Incitement to racial hatred and the propagation of racist stereotypes against persons of Armenian national or ethnic origin, including on the Internet and social media, as well as by public figures and governmental officials, and the lack of detailed information on investigations, prosecutions, convictions and sanctions of such acts.”

On October 2, a new video was disseminated on Azerbaijani Telegram channels, showing Azerbaijani soldiers executing Armenian POWs on Armenian territory. Armenia’s Ombudsperson has confirmed the authenticity of the video.

We, the undersigned, are appalled by the silence and equivocation of the international community around this aggression and violence. This silence only serves to embolden the Azerbaijani government and makes the achievement of peace in the South Caucasus impossible. Human rights organizations have a particular responsibility to speak up against the impunity of the Azerbaijani government and hold it to account for its gross human rights violations, torture, and other breaches of international obligations.

The undersigned civil society organizations of Armenia:

  • Strongly condemn Azerbaijan’s recent attacks on the sovereign Armenian territory, and its armenophobic rhetoric and policies.
  • Call on the Azerbaijani government to commence good faith negotiations for the sake of real, sustainable regional peace.
  • Call on the UN Human Rights Council to send rapporteurs to visit and inspect Armenian towns and cities affected by the Azerbaijani incursion, and interview affected residents and witnesses to document and give a direct response to Azerbaijan’s violations of international law and hold it to account.
  • Call on democratic countries internationally to condemn Azerbaijan’s incursion into the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia and halt all military aid to Azerbaijan.
  • Call for sanctions against Azerbaijan for its gross violations of international law․
  • Call on the EU and the US to stop enabling Aliyev’s regime amidst its gross human rights violations.
  • Call on independent human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, to send an urgent mission to Armenia to independently confirm Azerbaijani war crimes and crimes against humanity.
  • Welcome the calling out of the aggressor by various international organizations such as Freedom House, the Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention, several governments, politicians, and members of the human rights community.

The statement is signed by:

– Yerevan Press Club NGO

– For Equal Rights Educational Centre NGO

– Union of Informed Citizens NGO

– Public Journalism Club NGO

– Restart Gyumri- Initiative Centre NGO

– Human Rights Research Centre NGO

– Media Initiatives Centre NGO

– Free Citizen CISC

– Women’s Right House NGO

– Protection of Rights Without Borders NGO

– Centre For Community Mobilization and Support NGO

– Peace Dialogue NGO

– Law Development and Protection Foundation

– Helsinki Association for Human Rights

– Armenian Progressive Youth NGO

– Transparency International Anticorruption Center

– Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression

– Political Dialogue NGO

– Advanced Social Technologies NGO

– Disability Rights Agenda NGO

– Democracy Today NGO

– Civil Youth Centre Community Development NGO

– British – Armenian Human Rights Association

– Coalition to Stop Violence Against Women

– Granish Literary Community NGO

– Spitak Helsinki Group Human Rights NGO

– Women’s Resource Center NGO

– Society Without Violence NGO

– Women’s Support Center NGO

– Pink Human Rights Defender NGO

– Sexual Assault Crisis Center NGO

– Real World, Real People NGO

– “Agate” Rights Defense Center for Women with Disabilities NGO

– Human Rights Power NGO

– Cultural and Social Narratives Laboratory NGO

– Goris Press Club NGO

– Center for Perspective Development NGO

– Media Diversity Institute – Armenia NGO

– OxYGen Foundation for Protection of Youth and Women Rights NGO

– Freedom of Information Centre NGO

– “Region” Research Centre

– Open Society Foundations–Armenia

– “Bayazet” Armenian Analytical-Research Center NGO