TODAY.AZ / Politics

ICRC: from partnership to partisanship in once-occupied Garabagh

09 April 2024 [16:17] - TODAY.AZ
By Azernews

Elnur Enveroglu

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which was founded in 1863 in Geneva, the capital of Switzerland, actually came into being as a movement on the initiative of a number of volunteers and organisation members from different countries around the world.

The organisation began to expand its activities with the goal of providing impartial humanitarian aid to countries suffering from natural disasters, conflicts, and wars. However, complaints about the organisation began to appear from time to time based on various motives.

The activities of the ICRC in Azerbaijan began to expand after the 1990s. The conflict that arose in the region against the background of the First Garabagh War made the organisation's first activities related to helping refugees and searching for missing persons. Although the ICRC, which entered Azerbaijan for this purpose, did some work in this direction, it could not neatly fulfil its mission.

The fact is that after the First Garabagh War, 4354 prisoners and 841 of the missing were civilians. 47 of them were children, 268 were women, and 371 were old people.

Unfortunately, we must note that during the analysis of the materials received by the State Commission, it was determined that 550 people were killed in captivity, held hostages, or died after torture. Of the killed, 104 were women, 446 were men, and the names of 74 people are not known.

Despite all these gruesome events, the ICRC did not take any serious steps towards finding them and returning them.

It is known that when the ICRC was on the side of Armenia, they witnessed the torture and suffering of the captured Azerbaijanis by the Armenians. The prisoners were treated with such violence that they did not even dare to ask the ICRC for help. Because it could cost them their lives.

Although the ICRC was aware of the detention of many Azerbaijanis in prison camps in Armenia, it did not fulfil its duties and tried to exclude itself from the process under various pretexts. However, the mission of the organisation was to be impartial and to do certain things for the safety of every captured person.

And finally, during the Second Garabagh War, the ICRC actively joined the process of solving the problems of Armenians, and the bodies of more than 1,700 Armenian soldiers were handed over to Armenia. This time, it was possible to feel a different kind of initiative in the ICRC's activities. Because the ICRC, acting on the side of the defeated Armenia, was about to make public statements against Azerbaijan on behalf of the Armenian government,.

After the war, the ICRC showed disrespect for international law and the laws of Azerbaijan by starting to operate autonomously in Khankendi, literally the territory of Azerbaijan. They sided with the separatist leaders, who were operating illegally in Garabagh and are currently imprisoned in Baku, and adopted arbitrary laws based on their words.

It was a fact that 2 centres of the ICRC operated in Azerbaijan. However, their office in Khankendi had its own budget. They even carried out independent personnel selection there and operated mostly in an integrated form in Armenia.

Based on the words of the separatist leaders, the ICRC was openly acting against the laws of Azerbaijan on its territory. Although Azerbaijan repeatedly appealed to the ICRC to change the status of the Khankendi office, all appeals were ignored.

Humanitarian organization caught in smuggling

Unable to reconcile with the defeat in 2020, the Armenian authorities attempted to supply weapons to the separatist elements that once existed in Garabagh. Each of the weapons and ammunition secretly transported from Yerevan to Khankendi in vehicles was a plan for further provocations against Azerbaijan. Of course, the ICRC was aware of all this.

During the winter and autumn of 2022, when eco-activists organised protests on the Lachin-Khankendi road, the "Khankendi office" of the ICRC carried out illegal transportation and actually engaged in smuggling activities. It is no coincidence that 2 employees of the organisation were declared persona non grata and removed from Azerbaijan at that time.

The insincerity of the ICRC was reflected even in the Ukraine-Russia war. The organisation demanded that humanitarian aid be delivered from Kyiv, not Moscow. But after the 44-day war, despite the fact that Azerbaijan opened the Aghdam road and made it possible for the aid of the ICRC to be transported through this road, the ICRC wanted to make a serious effort to transport the aid through the Lachin road. This confirmed what was said about the organisation politicising issues and acting in accordance with certain interests.

In addition, the organisation made false statements, believing Armenia's empty assumptions and confusing people. Thus, Ariane Bauer, who once headed the Baku office of the ICRC and is currently the head of the European and East Asian department of the organisation, said after the Second Garabagh War that there would be a new war and that there was a need to continue their activities in Khankendi for a long time.

Some time ago, it was decided to suspend the activities of the ICRC's Khankendi office. It is interesting that this information was not released by the institution's Baku office but by the Yerevan office.

At present, the Khankendi office has moved to Barda and declared that it is operating there. Thus, the organisation still has 2 offices in Azerbaijan. But the war has already ended, and there is no need for the ICRC to operate in the territory of Azerbaijan. This means that it has become necessary for the organisation to conclude its activities and leave Azerbaijan.

Even they think that there may be a need to act in the direction of humanitarian aid in the country, for which there is a Red Crescent organisation that can be an adequate alternative to the ICRC in Azerbaijan.


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