Law 12:34 22/10/2021 Armenia

Ombudsman releases evidence of Azerbaijani military's reinforcement in Armenia in response to Defense Ministry’s denial

Armenia’s Human Rights Defender (Ombudsman) Arman Tatoyan has released evidence of increased Azerbaijani activity in Gegharkunik Province in response to the denial of the Defense Ministry.

In a statement on Monday, the ombudsman stated the Azerbaijani troops, that have invaded Gegharkunik, are actively strengthening their positions, conducting other engineering works. Tatoyan stated that they have built large shelters, stocked up on firewood and concreted the roads leading to their positions. In addition, they continue to build new roads, and the number of troops and weapons at their positions has increased, he said.

In response, the Defense Ministry said there were a number of inaccuracies in the statement of the human rights defender, as well as allegations that did not correspond to reality. In particular, it called the claims about the construction of shelters, firewood stockpiles and new roads “clearly exaggerated”.

In a statement late on Thursday, Tatoyan said that after his public post a campaign to discredit the human rights defender launched, adding the secretary of the Security Council also joined it.

He explained that the reason for the ombudsman's October 18 statement was that the actions of Azerbaijani forces grossly violate the rights of Armenian civilians. The ombudsman's office continues to receive complaints from border residents. Moreover, he stated, such violations are usually followed by criminal actions of the Azerbaijani servicemen, including those of a terrorist nature, which target civilians and the Armenian military.

"Both this and any other statement of the ombudsman are based on reliable data collected during fact-finding activities,” Tatoyan said, adding the mentioned statement is based on the facts that the ombudsman's office has consistently collected as a result of the daily monitoring and report studies of recent months.

He stressed that if the ombudsman makes a public statement, he has enough evidence and reliable sources, and not just one, but several.

"We urge the officials of the ministry not to make such ill-advised formulations i when responding to the statements of the human rights defender," Tatoyan wrote.

He underlined that by denying his statements, the Ministry Defense officials are generating an international Azerbaijani campaign questioning the credibility of the work carried out by the ombudsman.

Tatoyan stated that various Azerbaijani sources have already taken the statement of the Armenian Defense Ministry as a basis and applied to various instances, questioning the reports and statements of the human rights defender.

"Therefore, it should be borne in mind that the ombudsman submits reports and makes statements, even if they may cause political discontent, but at the same time they become a valuable source in protecting the rights of Armenian citizens, which is used in international instances, such as the UN International Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights," Tatoyan noted.

He stressed that throughout the post-war period, the Defense Ministry could somehow support the ombudsman’s call to create a demilitarized zone around Armenia’s borders. He noted that this was dictated by the need to protect the lives of civilians and Armenian soldiers from the criminal actions of Azerbaijan.

“The human rights defender has always supported the Armenian armed forces through his public and non-public activities and will continue to act on this principle in the future,” Tatoyan said.

He also urged the newly appointed Gegharkunik governor to carefully study the principles of the ombudsman’s activities, the results of his work and the situation on the ground not to question the accuracy of the defender's statements or reports in the future.

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