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Graphic execution videos emerge as Armenians flee and experts warn of genocide

‘Find them…cut them into pieces and give them to the dogs for dinner,’ one pro-Azeri channel posted with photos of missing Armenians.

Russian peacekeepers with fleeing Armenians at Stepanakert airport (Source credit: AFP via Getty]

Footage purporting to show executions of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh and bounties to kill and capture Armenians are circulating on pro-Azeri social media channels as tens of thousands attempt to flee the besieged enclave and experts warn a genocide may already be taking place.

One video showed the beheading of a civilian, according to researchers at investigative outlet Bellingcat. Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh – known as Artsakh in Armenian – reported that Azeri forces had entered the capital city Stepanakert and executed civilians and soldiers.

“Azeris are already in some districts of Stepanakert. Men from the age of 14 have been gathered and taken away,” political scientist Hovik Avenesov told Armenian media.

Another video on social media, geolocated to Nagorno-Karabakh by open source investigators, shows an Azeri soldier appearing to fire indiscriminately at a residential house.

Pro-Azeri channels also posted bounties with images of Armenians reported missing by friends and relatives. “I will pay $500 to who finds it for me. I will give it to Murad on his birthday,” one channel posted with a photo of a woman.

Another comment on a post showing a missing Armenian family read: “Find them… cut them into pieces and give them to the dogs for dinner.”

Several execution videos filmed by Azeri forces were verified by human rights groups and independent investigations during the previous war over Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020.

Tens of thousands of Armenians are attempting to flee the region, which is historically autonomous but internationally recognised as Azeri territory, following a ceasefire deal on Wednesday that included the dissolution of local defence forces and “reintegration” into Azerbaijan.

More than 200 deaths have been reported by Armenian human rights groups in Nagorno-Karabakh, including at least 10 civilians, since Azerbaijan launched its “anti-terror operation” on 19 September. Baku has not released casualty figures but independent estimates point to dozens of losses.

Pro-Azeri channels offer rewards for the capture or killing of Armenians [Source credit: Telegram]

Many Armenians have been waiting at the defunct Stepanakert airport, headquarters of Russian peacekeeping forces who are to maintain security under the terms of the ceasefire deal, but say they have been unable to evacuate and remain without water or medical supplies.

The only route between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia has been closed for nine months, with the majority of the population reduced to rations of bread.

Azeri media showed aid trucks being allowed into the enclave on Friday morning, as Baku promised “amnesty” for enemy fighters who laid down their arms. Azerbaijan’s President, Ilham Aliyev, vowed to guarantee the rights of Armenians of the region but said it would become “paradise” as part of Azerbaijan.

But Azeri military channels also showed Azeri forces continuing to advance through the region, corroborated by witnesses on the ground who reported incursions into Stepanakert.

Armenians and independent experts fear ethnic cleansing of the territory. “At any moment they could destroy us, engage in genocide against us,” said David Babayan, adviser to Samvel Shahramanyan, president of the unrecognised Republic of Artsakh.

Armenia, which lost the war for Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020, has refused to intervene in the conflict, triggering mass protests in its capital city Yerevan and calls for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation.

Anti-government protesters in the Armenian capital Yerevan on Friday [Source credit: AFP/Getty]

Armenia’s foreign minister, Ararat Mirzoyan, said on Wednesday that Azeri actions “were clear and irrefutable evidence of a policy of ethnic cleansing and mass atrocities”.

Genocide experts believe that Azeri policies including the nine-month blockade and attacks on civilian population centres amount to ethnic cleansing and genocide.

“I have no doubt that what is happening now can be classified as ethnic cleansing of Armenians – one step before physical genocide,” said Dr Joanna Beata Michlic of the Centre for Collective Violence, Holocaust and Genocide Studies at University College London.

Dr Elise Semerdjian of the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies pointed to aggressive rhetoric from Azeri leaders, including a statement from presidential spokesperson last week that “a genocide may happen” in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“Azerbaijan will fulfill its promise of ethnic cleansing and genocide in Nagorno Karabagh/Arstakh and beyond, if we are to take Baku at their own word,” she said. “Azerbaijan started the process by depriving the population of bread and then completed the job with bombs.”

In August, Luis Moreno Ocampo, the former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, warned that there is “reasonable basis to believe that genocide is being committed against Armenians”.

The Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention recently stated that the blockade is “genocidal in its intent, which is to eliminate the Armenian population of Artsakh”.

Armenians in the besieged enclave have criticised Western leaders for failing to intervene.

The EU released a statement on Thursday criticising Azeri aggression.

“The EU condemns the military operation by Azerbaijan against the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh and deplores the casualties and loss of life caused by this escalation,” the statement read. “The EU stands ready to take appropriate actions in the event of a further deterioration of the situation.”

US Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said: “The United States is alarmed by the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh due to Azerbaijan’s continued military actions, and we call for these actions to cease immediately.”

The UK’s Europe minister, Leo Docherty, said: “The UK continues to urge all sides to refrain from escalatory actions, engage in constructive talks to secure lasting peace, and facilitate humanitarian access to the region.”


(c) 2023, INews


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