Cemeteries in Nagorno Karabakh revealed the violent face of the Armenian occupation as returning Azerbaijanis were shocked by the damage to the graves of their loved ones.
The damage became more pronounced after the liberation of the region by Azerbaijani forces, which led to the return of displaced Azerbaijanis to Nagorno-Karabakh. Welcoming “ghost towns,” which were destroyed and turned into piles of stones, Azerbaijanis were even more alarmed by the shattered graves as the graves became unknown, causing many people to fail to find the graves of their loved ones.
For example, in Gabriel, which is one of the main cities in Nagorno-Karabakh, there are almost no intact cemeteries. Some cemeteries in the city are even excavated, exposing the bones of the dead.
In an interview with Anadolu Agency (AA) on this issue, Azerbaijani presidential aide Hikmat Hajiyev said that the cemeteries faced “vandalism” during 30 years of occupation.
“I cannot find words to describe their battle against cemeteries, and their destruction of graves. As if they tried to take revenge on the dead. This is the ugliest method of sabotage. The international community should see this brutality that Armenia has been practicing for years,” Hajiyev said. Relations between the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia have been strained since 1991 when the Armenian army occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, an area recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
Baku Liberating many strategic cities and towns and nearly 300 of their settlements and villages From the Armenian occupation during the last fighting.
Before that, about 20% of the lands of Azerbaijan were under illegal Armenian occupation for nearly three decades.
Former Soviet opponents signed a peace agreement brokered by Moscow on November 9, 2020, ending weeks of fierce fighting, and documenting that Armenia would hand over several regions to Baku.
However, each side accuses the other of committing crimes against humanity.
Last month, Azerbaijan applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), Prosecution of Armenia for its human rights violations during its 30-year occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh. The statement emphasized that Article 33 of the European Convention on Human Rights allows states to file lawsuits against another country, and the statement expressed that Azerbaijan submitted its complaints about Armenia in three different sections. The statement gave an example of the internally displaced who were “prevented from reaching their homes, visiting places of worship, and respecting those who were buried in the former occupied territories.” Since July 2020, 101 Azerbaijani civilians have been killed, including 28 women and 12 children; 423 wounded, including 104 women and 51 children. The statement confirmed that 9,294 homes were destroyed or severely damaged.
On Monday, Armenia and Azerbaijan renewed accusations in two letters before the United Nations Human Rights Council that the other side had committed war crimes during its fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The decades-long conflict resumed into all-out war in late September, claiming the lives of nearly 6,000 people, including civilians. It ended in a brutal defeat of Armenia six weeks later, following a peace deal brokered by Moscow.
Both sides accused the other of violating international law during the fighting and raised the allegations again on Monday when their foreign ministers addressed the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council via a video link.
Armenian Foreign Minister Ara Aevazyan accused Azerbaijani forces of “deliberately and systematically targeting civilian infrastructure” and “sabotaging and destroying Armenian cultural and religious heritage” and using “degrading, inhuman and cruel treatment” against Armenian prisoners of war and civilian internees.
He added that the Baku leadership, “with the direct participation of Turkey and its foreign terrorist fighters, committed mass atrocities against Armenians.”
For his part, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jihon Piramov accused the Armenian forces of committing “grave violations of international humanitarian law amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
He said that the Armenian army “intentionally attacked” densely populated civilian settlements in Azerbaijan and committed war crimes against Azerbaijani prisoners.
In December, Amnesty International urged Baku and Yerevan to urgently investigate “war crimes” committed by both sides during the fighting.
While Armenia has not opened an investigation with its army into war crimes, Azerbaijan accused two of its soldiers of mutilating the bodies of Armenian soldiers.
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