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Lemkin Institute calls for pressure on Aliyev regime to release Artsakh officials

The Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention “energetically” condemns the continued and unlawful imprisonment of Armenian officials and civilians of the Artsakh Republic by Azerbaijan.

“Given the high risk of serious violations of human rights against these individuals, including the loss of life, the need for a strong international presence has never been more urgent. Consequently, the Lemkin Institute calls on the international community to take necessary steps to secure the prompt and safe repatriation of all Armenian prisoners of war (POWs), officials, and civilians held hostage in Azerbaijan,” the institute said in a statement.

The Lemkin Institute recalls its 27 October 2023 “Statement on the Ongoing Imprisonment of Armenian Officials of the Republic of Artsakh by the Republic of Azerbaijan,” detailing the detention and prosecution of eight high-ranking officials, namely: Mr. Ruben Vardanyan, former State Minister of Artsakh; Major General Davit Manukyan, former First Deputy Commander of the Artsakh Defense Army; Mr. Davit Babayan, former Adviser to the President and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Artsakh; Mr. Levon Mnatsakanyan, former Commander of the Artsakh Defense Army; Mr. Arkadi Ghukasyan, the second President of Artsakh; Mr. Bako Sahakyan, the third President of Artsakh; Mr. Arayik Harutyunyan, the fourth President and former State Minister of Artsakh; and Mr. Davit Ishkhanyan, the last President of the National Assembly of Artsakh.

“These arrests occurred after Azerbaijan’s military aggression against the Nagorno-Karabakh region on 19 September 2023, and during the ensuing genocide against its civilian population. Many of these officials were apprehended at the illegal Hakari Bridge checkpoint, constructed by Azerbaijan in the Lachin Corridor in April 2023. The establishment of this checkpoint came four months after Azerbaijan’s unlawful blockade of the same corridor on 12 December 2022. This situation resulted in the deprivation of essential goods and services for the then 120,000 inhabitants of Artsakh, constituting a clear case of genocide-by-attrition, as observed by the former prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Mr. Luis Moreno Ocampo.

“While the suffering of all Armenians currently detained by the dictatorial regime of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev is deeply troubling, the Lemkin Institute is especially concerned about Mr. Vardanyan’s situation. The former State Minister, businessman, and philanthropist is particularly loathed in Azerbaijan due to his outspoken and unwavering support for Artsakh’s right to self-determination.

“In conclusion, the Lemkin Institute once again calls the international community to persuade President Aliyev’s regime into promptly releasing all Armenian civilians and POWs under its jurisdiction. Additionally, it exhorts the international community to refrain from providing any kind of assistance that could worsen the suffering of the victims of the Artsakh genocide or embolden Azerbaijan to perpetrate any unlawful act of aggression against Armenian territory. In this context, the Lemkin Institute welcomes the European Parliament’s February reports on “Common Foreign and Security Policy” and “Common Security and Defense Policy,” which, among other things, condemn “the pre-planned and unjustified attack by Azerbaijan against the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh and the people who have remained in the region,” reads the statement.


Horizon Weekly, 2024


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