On September 27, 2020, Azerbaijan launched full-scale military aggression against the ethnic Armenian population of Artsakh (aka Nagorno Karabakh), grossly violating the fundamental principle of the UN Charter on the prohibition of use and threat of force, as well as the norms of the Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law. Nonetheless, Azerbaijani aggression has not been condemned by the international community, and, encouraged by impunity, Azerbaijani authorities continue to use force as an important tool for their ambitions for the territory of Artsakh and the repression of the people living there.
Azerbaijan regularly violates the cease-fire regime established by the 2020 November 9 Trilateral Statement (hereinafter also referred to as the “Statement”), resorting to provocations of various natures. Violations are carried out not only with small-caliber firearms but also by using large-caliber weapons, artillery, and attack drones. Time by time, the scale of escalation sharply increases, turning into open military aggression. Often, these violations are accompanied by targeting the civilian communities of Artsakh, infringing the residents' right to life, and mental and physical security. The escalation of August 2022 is another manifestation of the abovementioned behavior of Azerbaijan, the details of which are presented in the first section of this report.
On August 2, 2022, President of Artsakh Arayik Harutyunyan in the expanded sitting of the Security Council stated that Azerbaijan, through the Russian peacekeepers, sent a letter to the Armenian side, informing that they are planning to change the route of the Corridor. Azerbaijan’s illegal demand, the fundamentally illegal steps taken to enforce the demand, and the existential importance of the Lachine Corridor are presented in detail in the second section of this report. On November 9, 2020, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, and President of the Russian Federation issued a trilateral statement that clearly establishes the Lachin Corridor (hereinafter also referred to as the “Corridor”) connecting the Republic of Artsakh to the Republic of Armenia. The Corridor has existential importance for the people of Artsakh, thus even a one-day disruption of its operation will lead to a humanitarian catastrophe.
As a result of the 2020 November 9 Statement, all the civilian settlements of the Kashatagh region of Artsakh, except Berdzor, Aghavno, Nerkin Sus and Qaregah, came under Azerbaijani control. As a result of changing the route of the Corridor the mentioned communities also come under Azerbaijani control. The residents of the mentioned communities have to leave their homes to avoid a massacre, torture, and inhumane treatment. Some of the residents move their family graves to save them from destruction and desecration. To save cultural values from Azerbaijani vandalism, the authorities of Artsakh are evacuating them. The forcible displacement of the residents of Berdzor, Aghavno, and Sus communities under the threat of force by Azerbaijan is presented in detail in the third section of this report.
The existence of huge volumes of hate speech and other manifestations of Armenophobia is not something new. Sometimes there is a sharp increase due to various incidents. The escalation in August 2022 is not an exception. From its very first days, the Azerbaijani media has been flooded with hate speech by state officials and the publication of anti-Armenian videos and photos by private users. Some manifestations are presented in the fourth section of this report.
Peacekeeping missions have become an inherent part of the current world order. It is common to provide peacekeepers with a mandate that specifies the principles and functions of the mission. The Russian peacekeeping forces deployed in Artsakh under the 2020 November 9 Statement are not provided with any mandate specifically articulating its functions, but for the Statement itself. As a result, the essence of the peacekeeping mission is sometimes partially undermined and the rights of the people of Artsakh are endangered. This is described in detail in the fifth section of this report.
The report was prepared based on studies conducted by the Human Rights Defender's Office, on the visits to various communities, educational and health institutions, citizens' houses, private conversations with citizens, and information received from state-authorized bodies.