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Azerbaijan's CSO issues statement on occasion of International Day of Missing Persons

30 August 2023 [17:49] - TODAY.AZ
Qabil Ashirov

Garabagh Missing Families Public Union released the statement on the occasion of International Day of Missing Persons, Azernews reports, citing the release of the organisation.

The statement reads:

In the 90s of the 20th century, 20% of Azerbaijan's territory recognized by international law was invaded by the Armenian armed forces, as a result of which nearly four thousand Azerbaijani citizens went missing in the First Karabakh War. Unfortunately, as a result of the military aggression, more than seven hundred civilians, including children, women, and the elderly, have disappeared along with the soldiers.

Of the total number of missing persons, 872 people, including 29 children, 98 women, and 112 elderly people, were taken hostage or remained in the occupied territories, confirmed by witness statements.

In a number of cases, people disappeared along with their family members and relatives, and entire families and generations were destroyed. Research confirms that 2 to 7 members of 61 families went missing during the first Karabakh war and no information was given about them during these years. This situation is disrespectful not only to the families of the missing Azerbaijanis but to all humanity.

Facts and eyewitness accounts confirm that during the occupation of the sovereign territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan by the Armenian military in the first Karabakh War, the norms of international humanitarian law were grossly violated and civilians were targeted, elderly people who could not leave their homes were burned, beaten, severely tortured, hanged from trees or shot during unexpected attacks.

According to the requirements of international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, which are its main source, the right of their families to receive information about persons missing during armed conflicts is unequivocally recognized. However, family members of missing Azerbaijanis have been deprived of this right for more than 30 years. Armenia's refusal to provide information about the missing Azerbaijanis condemned their families to suffer. As a result of the non-humanist position of Armenia, thousands of missing families have been forced to live with the pain of this terrible tragedy for 30 years and have not been able to get information about their loved ones.

It is known that the territories of Azerbaijan occupied in the First Karabakh War were under the control of the Armenian army for 30 years. For this reason, all missing persons, including detailed information about their burial places, are on the Armenian side. The interview given to Armenian mass media in December 2021 by Lieutenant General Gagik Melkonyan, deputy of the Armenian Parliament, and former Deputy Minister of Defense of Armenia, confirms this once again.

In that interview, Gagik Melkonyan stated that the corpses of hundreds of servicemen of the Azerbaijan Army who died in 1994 remained on the battlefield and Armenians buried them. Although Azerbaijan made an official appeal to Armenia through the mediation of international organizations regarding the issue, no response was received.

In September 2020, the Azerbaijani Army, which carried out a counter-offensive operation related to the provocation of the Armenian armed forces, liberated the homeland from occupation and implemented the resolutions adopted by the UN in 1993. However, the excessive pollution of territories [with landmines] by Armenia during the occupation did not allow the people expelled from there, including their missing families, to go to their homelands. In addition, Armenia does not provide Azerbaijan with accurate mine maps or information about the mass graves of the missing. More than three hundred Azerbaijani citizens have become victims of mine explosions in the last three years due to the lack of mine maps.

In recent years, the steps taken by the relevant state institutions of the Republic of Azerbaijan in the field of clarifying the future fate of the missing, including taking biological samples from families, extracting DNA profiles, and conducting excavations in the territories freed from occupation, create great hopes in the families of the missing. However, the discovery of 10 mass graves in a short period of time and the fact that our loved ones were killed by torture and buried in an inhumane manner saddens our hearts.

Analyzes, including G. Melkonyan's information, show that new mass graves will be discovered. Killing people with torture and mass burial and losing their traces is a disrespect for all human values.

We, as a public organization uniting the family members of nearly 4,000 Azerbaijanis who went missing as a result of Armenia's military aggression against Azerbaijan, demand the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, to provide information about missing Azerbaijani citizens and mass graves to the Azerbaijani side.

G. Melkonyan belongs to the political party headed by the Prime Minister of Armenia, and therefore, N. Pashinyan can at least provide the information about the location of the mass grave, which G. Melkonyan stated in his interview, to the Azerbaijani side.

We, also call on the President of the Council of the European Union, Mr. Charles Michel, and the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to put pressure on Armenia to release information about the fate of missing ones and the mass graves to the Azerbaijani side.

We call on the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Commission on Missing Persons to increase their efforts in this area.

The problem of missing persons is not relevant only to Azerbaijan, it is of global issue. Therefore, we call on the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, to appoint a UN Special Rapporteur on missing persons.

We, the Azerbaijani families of the missing, wish that all the armed conflicts in the world will end soon, that peace and tranquility will be established in the world, and that no person, regardless of their national identity, will go missing.


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