Law 16:07 12/10/2023 Armenia

Lawrence Martin: Azerbaijan seeks arrests of 300 more Nagorno-Karabakh figures

Virtually the entire ethnic Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh, more than 100,000 people, have been forced to flee their ancestral homeland under Baku’s “iron fist”, Lawrence Martin, Senior Counsel at Foley Hoag's International Litigation and Arbitration Department, said on Thursday.

"To understand these reasons, we have to look back even beyond the start of the blockade last December. As we explained in Armenia’s Memorial, anti-Armenian hate is engrained in official State policy in Azerbaijan. It has created a society where ethnic Armenians hide their identity  and to call someone Armenian is considered an insult," he said at the ICJ hearings on Armenia's request for the indication of provisional measures against Azerbaijan.

"This deep hatred has motivated countless atrocities against ethnic Armenians, in Nagorno-Karabakh and elsewhere.  To use President Aliyev’s words, the “Armenians of the world” are Azerbaijan’s enemy.  They are “dogs” to be chased out of Nagorno Karabakh  and even Armenia itself.  They are “vandals”, “savages” and “barbarians”. 

"The ethnic Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh know only too well that this hatred is fostered and inculcated at every level of Azerbaijani society. Children in Azerbaijan are taught to hate ethnic Armenians from the cradle. Just by way of example, a middle school textbook, approved by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Education, refers to Armenia as “a nation that pours all kinds of filth from its veins, is of mixed blood, with no future, dead spirituality, maliciousness, [and] hatefulness”, and to Armenians “as scoundrels, who have the blood of the devil in their veins”," Martin stressed.

The lawyer spoke about the 44-day Nagorno-Karabakh war in 2020 and its aftermath.

"The Court will no doubt recall the gruesome videos that were celebrated on Azerbaijani social media showing Azerbaijani troops abusing and executing defenseless Armenians—civilians and servicemen alike—and desecrating their corpses while spewing vile racist language.  The Court will also recall the so-called Military Trophies Park with its racist and humiliating depictions of Armenian servicemen," he said.

Martin stressed Azerbaijan’s 19 September attack was the culmination of a well-considered plan preceded by a nine-month blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh.

"Azerbaijan claims that it targeted only military positions and equipment during its offensive. That is not true. Azerbaijan also attacked civilian settlements, including the capital Stepanakert. Although information is hard to come by, in large part because Azerbaijan had banned independent media on the ground and turned Nagorno-Karabakh into an information vacuum, there are nonetheless numerous images of damage to civilian structures, some of which you can see on your screens now. Moreover, a number of civilians, including children, are reported to have been killed during the attack. And according to a report issued just days ago by the Human Rights Defender of Armenia, there are also credible reports of atrocities, including torture and mutilations," he noted.

"According to the latest available information, more than 100,500 ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh have fled to Armenia. It is unclear how many remain or are currently in Azerbaijan’s custody.

"Events during and since the exodus only show that ethnic Armenians were right to flee Nagorno-Karabakh. Days after the attack, Azerbaijan started illegally rounding up prominent political and military figures in Nagorno-Karabakh on trumped-up charges. To date, eight such figures are known to have been arrested, including three of the former presidents of Nagorno-Karabakh. It has also issued a wanted list for some 300 more.

"Azerbaijan is also moving swiftly to de-Armenianize Nagorno-Karabakh. Among other things, it has already re-issued a map that, among other things, renames the streets of Stepanakert in Azerbaijani. Among the changes is the renaming of a main thoroughfare, formerly named after Armenian playwright Vagharsh Vagharshyan, to Enver Pasha Street. Enver Pasha, you may recall, was an Ottoman military officer who was one of the main architects of the Armenian genocide in the early 20th century," the lawyer remarked.

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