Law 10:57 09/01/2021 Armenia

Ombudsman: Security of Armenia's state borders endangered

Human Rights Defender (Ombudsman) Arman Tatoyan is in Syunik Province of Armenia with his staff on a three-day working visit. Visits to Goris, Shurnukh, Vorotan, Kapan, Meghri and other communities are planned.

In a statement on Facebook on Friday, the ombudsman said that yesterday's visits to Goris, Vorotan and Shurnukh confirm that the mechanical use of the Global Positioning System (GPS) or Google Maps poses a serious threat to the right to life and security of Armenia's border residents, their physical and mental integrity and other vital rights which are guaranteed internationally and by the Constitution of the country.

“The security of the state borders of Armenia is endangered,” he said. “In particular, the mechanical application of this principle brought under control of Azerbaijan, for example, various sections of the road connecting Goris, Vorotan, Shurnukh and other communities, which directly endangered the movement of civilians.”

The meetings of the ombudsman with the residents of the border communities, and the discussions and studies with the community confirm that the Azerbaijani military is carrying out missions of provocations. Armed men regularly appear on the roads in the immediate vicinity of peaceful neighborhoods and do so by displaying weapons to intimidate civilians, primarily women and children, Tatoyan noted.

“In addition, as a result of the mechanical use of the Global Positioning System (GPS) or Google maps, for example, in Vorotan and Shurnukh, people have simply been deprived of their own homes and the opportunity to make a living. Residents of those communities were deprived of the opportunity to use their privately owned and community-owned vital agricultural land (for example, as a garden, arable land or pasture).

Observations of the Human Rights Defender's Office confirm that due to this principle, houses and lands belonging to Armenian citizens have come under the control of Azerbaijan, for which certificates of state registration, including property rights, have been issued to either Soviet Armenia or independent Armenia by competent bodies of different periods of the republic (Cadastre Committee, etc.).

Consequently, as a result of all this, people's rights have been grossly violated, they have been deprived of their property and, an uncertain situation has arisen, which in turn has created an atmosphere of alarm and anxiety among civilians.

The life and health of the residents of the border areas of Armenia, their physical security and mental immunity are directly threatened because, for example, in the case of Shurnukh, the village was divided into "Azerbaijani" and "Armenian" parts and was used as a basis for division by that community, crossing the interstate road. To be clear, the point is that on one side of the road, in the "Armenian" part [including the places where children are used to playing], there are civilians, and directly on the other side, there are Azerbaijani armed forces.

Therefore, resolving the issue of Armenia's borders with the applications of a private organization, Google or GPS [Global Positioning System], which also endangers the inviolability of Armenia's state borders and the country's security, is absolutely unacceptable from the point of view of ensuring the rights of people living in our country.

Moreover, during the visit of the Human Rights Defender's Office, several versions of Google maps on the spot showed different results, including in some cases representing the village of Shurnukh as part of the territory of the Republic of Armenia.

During today's visit, important meetings were held with the mayor of Goris, the heads of Vorotan-Shurnukh rural settlements, other community bodies, the residents of the communities, as well as the staff of the Armenian National Security Service (NSS) frontier troops. At the same time, the personnel of the RA Armed Forces and the frontier troops of the National Security Service carry out selfless heroic service, although in addition to their duties, they often face an unfair, and a customarily unrelated additional workload.

In the coming days, visits to other settlements of Syunik Province are planned, during which the necessary professional studies and observations will be carried out,” the statement read. 

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