Terrorize Children and Elderly
A group of Azerbaijanis posing as environmental activists who have been blockading the Lachin Corridor since December 12 barred a group of Artsakh Armenians from returning to their homes, in some instances terrorizing passengers traveling in Russian peacekeeping forces’ vehicles.
“27 civilians separated from their families for several months – including elderly, children and people with disabilities – were en route from Armenia’s Goris to Stepanakert on April 4, around 3:30 p.m. (local time), based on an agreement with and accompanied by the Russian peacekeepers,” Artsakh’s Human Rights Defender Gegham Stepanyan said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Despite a previously reached agreement on the return, the Azerbaijani government agents posing as eco-activists in the blockaded section of the Goris-Stepanakert highway in the Shushi section barred the passage of the Russian peacekeepers’ vehicles carrying the civilians. This resulted in the citizens being stranded there for over five hours. The vehicles are now returning to Goris after ineffective negotiations between the Russian side and the Azerbaijanis,” Stepanyan added.
Stepanyan said that four passengers became sick with three of them losing consciousness. At first, the Azerbaijanis wanted to take them to a medical facility in occupied Shushi. Later, however, they were taken to the Stepanakert Medical Center by Russian peacekeepers. The remaining 23 passengers were forced to return to Goris.
Artsakh healthcare authorities later reported that the four individuals – all women – who were taken to the Stepanakert hospital after falling ill and losing consciousness in the Lachin Corridor were treated. Their condition is not life-threatening.
Yet Stepanayan added that Azerbaijan was exploiting “the atmosphere of impunity” and has not been cooperating with either the Russian peacekeepers or the International Committee of the Red Cross or other international organizations over this issue.
Authorities in Yerevan have yet to address this most recent breach of the November 9, 2020 agreement, as well as the continued human rights violations against the people of Artsakh.
Stepanyan stressed that the incident Tuesday night once again proved that the Azerbaijani authorities “explicitly and overtly” lying and misguiding the international community by presenting a fabricated claims that there is no blockade.
“Furthermore, by allowing people to exit Artsakh in different ways, but banning their entry, Azerbaijani authorities are explicitly carrying out ethnic cleansing, as Ilham Aliyev had admitted in his January 10 statement,” Stepanyan added.
The human rights defender said that the reason for Azerbaijan’s brazen action, including its disregard for the International Court of Justice’s order to open the Lachin Corridor, stemmed from lack of international measures to punish Baku for its human rights violations.
Artsakh’s former rights defender and state minister Artak Beglaryan, who has been stranded in Armenia since the blockade began in December, provided more details about the terrorizing tactics used by the Azerbaijanis who forced the group of Armenians to “accept Azerbaijani citizenship” and be frisked in exchange for entry into Artsakh.
He explained that when the women fell ill and collapsed, the Azerbaijani authorities did not allow ambulances from Artsakh to come to the scene and instead were going to take the women to Shushi, where their fates would be unknown.
After the Armenian passengers protested and Russian peacekeepers intervened, were the women transported to Stepanakert.
Beglaryan echoed his colleague’s sentiments by pointing out that Azerbaijani were hastening the departure of Artsakh Armenians but barring their return, in an effort to systematically depopulate Artsakh.
“With Azerbaijan’s state policy of racial and ethnic discrimination and its ongoing corresponding actions, the international community should understand the level of existential threats against the people of Artsakh under any kind of Azerbaijani control,” Beglaryan said.
“The ongoing blockade and hate-motivated crimes and psychological terror by Azerbaijan, as well as the failure of the international community to effectively protect the people of Artsakh and prevent new crimes, require urgent, strong, and practical steps to ensure the proper protection of the security and rights of the Artsakh people, including the right to self-determination,” explained Beglaryan.