Human Rights Research Center considers the safe return of prisoners of war and provision of security guarantees for the residents of Artsakh as an issue of primary concern of all the parties of the ceasefire agreement, signed on 9 November, 2020, as well as international human rights actors and mandated international stakeholders, such as the UN and the OSCE Minsk Group.
Dear friends and colleagues,
2020 was an extremely challenging year for many.
For Armenia it was devastating: first enduring social, healthcare and economic challenges related to COVID-19 pandemic, people of Armenia then faced the horror of the 44-Day War (the Second Artsakh War), unleashed on 27 September, 2020, by Azerbaijan with an open military and political support of Turkey against non-recognized Republic of Artsakh.
Populated predominantly by Armenians, Artsakh has sought its independence and recognition for the last 30 years. The case of Artsakh is yet another demonstration of the essence and the importance of application of the principle of self-determination and remedial secession.
In the aftermath of devastating events of 2020, we, at Human Rights Research Center, even more than ever, see the vital importance of recognition of Artsakh’s independence and will advocate for upholding the principle of remedial session as the sole guarantee of life and security of the population of Artsakh, based on the established precedents of Kosovo, East Timor and South Sudan.
Standing strong on the side of peace, as we always had and always will, we also profoundly believe that peace is lasting only when supported by justice.
Throughout the last months our small team, together with friends and colleagues, mobilized resources and capacity for documenting and analyzing facts of serious violations of human rights and core principles of humanitarian law on the part of Azerbaijani and Turkish Governments and military personnel, including but not limited to the crime of aggression, intentional targeting of civilian settlements and civilian population, including children, recruitment of mercenaries, use of prohibited munition, including chemical weapons, torture and ill-treatment of the prisoners of war, abduction of civilians, and else. The course of war was also accompanied by strong hate propaganda and incitement of hate crimes against people of Armenian origin in social media and physical attacks on protesters of Armenian origin during rallies abroad.
On the occasion of all the aforementioned, Human Rights Research Center co-initiated or joined to the statements, calls and letters of allegation addressed to international human rights organizations, UN special procedures, mandated international stakeholders such as Council of Europe, OSCE, UNICEF, UNHCR. etc. Unfortunately, majority of those appeals were left unanswered.
War in Artsakh once again proved unwillingness and incapacity of international community to support and maintain global peace and security, to react promptly to serious allegations of human rights abuses in different corners of the word, and most of all- to put human dignity and justice over political and economic gains.
War in Artsakh was, by all means, devastating both for people of Armenia and for people of Azerbaijan alike. The failure of the international community to stop the aggression of the governments of Azerbaijan and Turkey was the failure to protect people and families in this region.
With the ceasefire agreement, signed on 9 November (Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire agreement), 2020, between the Prime-Minister of Armenia, the President of Azerbaijan and the President of Russian Federation, active war was brought to an end.
Among other terms, the agreement requested for the exchange of prisoners of war, hostages and other detainees on both sides.
Yet, to date, the return of the substantial number of Armenian POWs has not been organized in accordance with the rules of international humanitarian law, their life and security is endangered, their treatment in Azerbaijan contradicts the fundamental principle of prohibition of torture and ill-treatment.
Apart from those of POWs who were captured in course of active war, there are Armenian military and civilians abducted after the conclusion of the agreement, which profoundly contradicts norms and rules of international law and the spirit of the agreement in itself.
The post-war developments still remain extremely uncertain. Since the start of the war until recently, the European Court of Human Rights came up with a number of interim decisions, based on the requests of the Republic of Armenia.
The decisions, among else, included application of interim measures against Azerbaijan urging to ensure respect for the Convention rights of the captives (20 November, 2020) and to provide information on prisoners of war captured after the conclusion of the ceasefire agreement, including their medical documents, and information on the terms of their exchange (21 December, 2020).
Human Rights Research Center considers the safe return of POWs and provision of guarantees for security of residents of Artsakh as an issue of primary concern of all the parties of the ceasefire agreement, signed on 9 November, 2020 as well as international human rights actors and mandated international stakeholders, such as the UN and the OSCE Minsk Group.
Monitoring of the post-war developments, as far as they concern protection and respect for human rights of the population affected by war in Armenia and Artsakh, is a strategic priority for our team for the ongoing year.
Co-founders of Human Rights Research Center: Anahit Simonyan, Ani Asatryan.