Armenia’s Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan on Tuesday renewed his calls for the establishment of a “security zone” in Armenia’s Syunik Province as a means to guarantee the rights of the Armenian citizens living in border villages.
Tatoyan, who has accompanied President Armen Sarkissian on a fact finding mission to the region reiterated his position saying “illegal” Azerbaijani troop deployment in the area threatens the lives of local residents.
Tatoyan said that he and President Sarkissian had meetings in the Khnatsakh village, and highlighted the restoration of the rights of the villagers as a priority objective. In his words, these rights were violated as a result of “the Azerbaijani Armed Forces appearing in the direct vicinity of the village”.
“The residents of the village are unable to use their lands and farms due to security issues, they are unable to use the fields and pastures,” said Tatoyan. “And this situation deprives them from their source of income, i.e. the rights to property, economic activity and other vitally significant social-economic rights are violated. In addition, the civilian residents’ right to life, health, physical and psychological inviolability and other internationally recognized rights are jeopardized. This situation is also contentious in terms of the interests and safety of children.”
Tatoyan and the president also visited Goris, where joint discussions were held with the mayors of Hartashen, Nerkin Khndzoresk, Karahunj, Sisian, Goris itself and other towns and villages.
“It is clear that the presence of servicemen of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces in close proximity to the villages of the Syunik Province doesn’t have any legal basis whatsoever, it is illegal. This conclusion has concrete legal substantiations, which overall make their presence illegitimate,” explained Tatoyan.
President Sarkissian said that there is uncertainty in the border issue and that this situation is violating the villagers’ rights. “It is evident that a security zone must be created in Syunik with the purpose of guaranteeing human rights,” the Tatoyan said, adding that the results of the visit will be discussed with the president’s office for potential future steps.
On Tuesday, President Sarkissian and Tatoyan visited the village of Davit Bek, where they may with the heads of that village, the nearby Kaghnut village and he mayor of Kapan.
“Conditioned by the start of agricultural works, the social problems further intensified in the village as people have been deprived of their lands as a result of demarcation processes,” said a statement from Tatoyan’s office, which pledged action following a post-visit discussion with the president.