Law 16:11 04/06/2021 Armenia

Ombudsman: Azerbaijani forces threaten Armenian villagers in Gegharkunik

The Azerbaijani troops are illegally stopping villagers in the pastures located in the vicinity of the villages of Armenia’s Gegharkunik Province and are demanding explanations from them in regard to which direction they are moving, for what purpose and what they are transporting. The Azerbaijani servicemen are also attempting to conduct illegal searches of the cars and are threatening the population, Armenia’s Human Rights Defender (Ombudsman) Arman Tatoyan said on Friday.

A statement of the ombudsman on the results of the additional fact-finding activities in the border region is provided below.

“This statement is in reference to the dangers and violations of the rights of the border residents of the Verin Shorzha, Nergin Shorzha, Norapak, and Kut villages of Gegharkunik Province, as a result of the illegal presence of the Azerbaijani armed servicemen in the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia.

In particular, on 3 June three alarming-calls were received about the fact that several to several dozens of Azerbaijani armed servicemen with vehicles are regularly descending in the direction of the pastures of Verin Shorzha village of Vardenis community, to the place where the barns are located and where the villagers graze their animals. Over the past week, they have set up positions closer to the Verin Shorzha plateau, making the use of the pastures almost impossible.

Moreover, one of the Azerbaijani positions, which is closer to the plateaus, the Azerbaijani armed servicemen are illegally stopping villagers and demanding explanations from them in regard to which direction they are moving, for what purpose and what they are transporting, conducting illegal searches of their cars.

Furthermore, alarming-calls were received on June 3, 2021 in relation to the Kut village of Geghamasar community, stating that the Azerbaijani servicemen are still stationed in the immediate vicinity of the village, as a result of which the villagers are only capable to use only a small segment of the pastures. Moreover, the Azerbaijani armed servicemen are swearing at the shepherds, and screaming loudly are threatening them with a show of weapons. While the village is under their direct line of fire.

The cattle barn in Norabak village of the Geghamasar community, is under the illegal control of Azerbaijani forces, and the residents were deprived of the opportunity to use it. There are streams near the barn that were also used for agricultural purposes, but now the villagers can no longer use them.

In the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia, the apparently illegal presence of Azerbaijani armed servicemen in the immediate vicinity of the villages of Gegharkunik Province, and their openly criminal acts, seriously endanger the lives and health of the residents of border villages of Armenia, and completely disrupt their everyday life and mental integrity.

Pastures, hayfields, other land plots cannot be used because:

1) Servicemen of the Azerbaijani armed forces are illegally present in those territories;

2) These territories are directly under the line of fire of the Azerbaijani armed forces.

All this was confirmed by studies conducted by the Office Human Rights Defender of Armenia, including the Gegharkunik regional subdivision.

The issue is that the need to use these lands is especially urgent for the village residents due to seasonal demands. The harvest season is already due to begin, and the villagers are facing acute problems. This can lead to a sharp decrease in the number of livestock, as there are insufficient conditions for raising them.

All of this will deepen the existing social problems.

Water resources from which irrigation and drinking water are generated have been brought under the control of the Azerbaijani armed forces.

The rights of the border residents of Armenia are guaranteed by the Constitution of Armenia and by international standards.

Any process related to the state borders cannot be acceptable if they undermine the normal life of the border residents, and if their rights have been grossly violated and continue to be violated or remain under the threat of being violated.

Thus, the creation of the security zone is an absolute necessity for the purpose of the restoration of the rights of the people, and their protection from threats of violations.”

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