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Armenia war aftermath: Azerbaijan enlists Africa’s help

As the world marked International Day of the Disappeared or Missing on Sunday, a day for victims of enforced disappearance,…

As the world marked International Day of the Disappeared or Missing on Sunday, a day for victims of enforced disappearance, Azerbaijan has enlisted the help of African countries to bring maximum pressure to bear on Armenia to reveal the fate of some 4000 Azerbaijani civilians still missing decades after the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict of the 1990s.The African Union and its member states should condemn the heinous acts of Armenia and put collective pressure to help families of the victims uncover the mass graves of their dears in different parts of Karabakh, Ruslan Nasibov, Charge d’Affaires of Azerbaijan to Ethiopia said on Sunday in a briefing.

 Despite the fact that the taking of hostages is clearly prohibited by international humanitarian law, 267 Azerbaijani civilians, including 29 children, 98 women and 112 elderly people, were taken hostage and weren’t released by Armenia, according to Ruslan Nasibov, Charge d’Affaires of the Republic of Azerbaijan to Ethiopia. 

“By these illegal acts Armenia seriously violated the relevant provisions of the 1949 Geneva Conventions relative to the treatment of prisoners of war and to the civilian persons in time of war, as well as their first Additional Protocol,” he said.

According to the State Commission on Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing Persons of the Republic of Azerbaijan, 196 residents of Khojaly town, “including 36 children and 65 women, went missing only during one of the most serious crimes against humanity committed by military forces of Armenia, which brutally killed 613 residents of Khojaly within one night on 25-26 February, 1992″.

 “There are testimonies that 95 out of those 196 missing people, including 16 children and 22 women, have been taken hostage in Khojaly by the military forces of Armenia”.

“The Government of Azerbaijan has taken necessary measures to bring clarity to the fates of persons who went missing as a result of the conflict”, according to Ruslan.

 “A clear list of missing citizens of Azerbaijan has been submitted to Armenia via ICRC [International Committee of Red Cross],” says Ruslan. 

“Azerbaijan cooperates with ICRC in collecting DNA samples from relatives of missing persons who are still waiting for the news on their whereabouts”.

The liberation of Azerbaijani territories from Armenia’s occupation during the 44-day war last autumn put an end to the military conflict and made it possible to accomplish the work of identifying the fates of missing persons and alleviate almost three decades of pain and anxiety of thousands of people in Azerbaijan. 

Azerbaijan has already started the process of identification by conducting exhumation works in unnamed burial sites in the liberated territories in cooperation with ICRC.

According to the Charge d’Affairs, Azerbaijan has always been active in drawing the global attention to the issue of missing persons at the international level, and as a main sponsor of the UN General Assembly biennial resolution on “Missing persons’ ‘. 

And the resolution of the UN Commission on the Status of Women on “Release of women and children taken hostage, including those subsequently imprisoned in armed conflicts”.

The embassy’s call on Africans to stand with Azerbaijan on its quest about its missing citizens came after the Public Television of Azerbaijan released an emotionally devastating documentary “The tomb under the Cherry tree” about one particular tragic story of a family from thousands that happened in the 1990s. 

The documentary is about a former IDP, Khagani who went on to search the grave of his 7-year old son, Nijat, after 28 years where Khagani himself had to bury him in a rush under machine guns pointing at him. 

Khagani begged soldiers for a few minutes to allow him to bury Nijat in the garden of his house when he and his other son were captured.

Ruslan believes Armenia’s international responsibility involves legal consequences, including the obligation to provide adequate compensation, while individuals responsible for violations with regard to citizens of Azerbaijan reported missing in connection with the conflict should face penal or other sanctions at the national and international levels.

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