Publication Date 23.11.2021
On 27 September 2020, Azerbaijan, supported by Turkey and foreign fighters and mercenaries from various extremist and terrorist groups in the Middle East and beyond, unleashed another armed aggression against the Republic of Artsakh. Azerbaijan’s use of force being itself illegal under international law was accompanied with numerous serious violations of international humanitarian law, including indiscriminate attacks, deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian objects, murder and torture of civilians and servicemen fallen under the control of the Azerbaijani forces.
More than a year after the ceasefire of November 9, 2020, Azerbaijan continues violating international humanitarian law by initiating criminal proceedings against Armenian civilians and servicemen who were captured during the active hostilities and after the ceasefire. Dozens of video and photo materials have been circulating in social media illustrating the violent and inhuman treatment of those captured - beheadings or mutilations, killings and other violence towards servicemen and civilians, including the execution by Azerbaijani forces in Hadrut region of the Republic of Artsakh of two captured Armenians. War crimes committed by the Azerbaijani armed forces was addressed by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who expressed serious concern about videos that have emerged which appear to show war crimes being committed.
In addition, 38 civilians, citizens of the Republic of Artsakh mainly elderly remained in villages that came under the control of Azerbaijan were killed through physical violence, stabbing, beheading, close-range shot, and other direct means. In fact, all the civilians who did not leave their homes in territories which fell under Azerbaijan’s control were killed.
So far none of the Azerbaijani perpetrators of war crimes against Armenians during and after hostilities were punished by Azerbaijan. Instead, those Armenian servicemen and civilians who survived inhuman treatment and were acknowledged by Azerbaijan, were convicted to, or are facing imprisonment in Azerbaijan under unfounded accusations. In total 45 Armenians were convicted and sentenced to various jail terms - two Armenian servicemen were convicted to 20 years of imprisonment, 23 servicemen were convicted to 6 years of imprisonment, two servicemen were convicted to 4 years of imprisonment, 13 servicemen were convicted to 6 months of imprisonment, two more servicemen are waiting for judgement. In addition, one civilian was convicted to 20 years of imprisonment, and two others – to 15 years of imprisonment. Five Armenian servicemen were subsequently released after the conviction, while 40 more Armenians remain under Azerbaijani custody.
It should be noted that initiation of criminal proceedings against the Armenian servicemen and civilians is a material breach to the Geneva Convention (III) Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War and Geneva Convention (IV) Relative to the Protection of Civilian persons in time of War, to which Azerbaijan is a state party.