HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER OF THE
REPUBLIC OF NAGORNO KARABAKH
There is a Need to Promptly Adopt Legislation Regulating Peaceful Assemblies
The Human Rights Ombudsman’s staff has been vigilantly following the peaceful protests happening in Stepanakert from June 2nd to the 5th.
Members of staff have been present at the protests on Stepanakert’s Azatamartik Street (in front of the station), as well as the opposing protests which took place in the Renaissance Square on June 3rd. The Human Rights Ombudsman also visited the protest sites to personally monitor that the protestors’ constitutional rights are being protected.
We announce that there were no incidents recorded of RA police violating the protestors’ rights. We find it significant that the RA police organized the rerouting of traffic on Azatamartik Street from June 2nd to the 4th, as well as the police designating a high-ranking officer of the RA police to act as a liaison with the protest organizers. At the same time, we believe it is necessary that the police take additional steps to ensure the safety of members of opposing protests when some members of one protest group appear at the site of the opposing protest. Specifically, on June 3rd, some members of the Azatamartik Street protest marched to the Renaissance Square, where at the time a demonstration with opposing demands was taking place.
At the site of the protests, some citizens approached the Human Rights Ombudsman with questions of legal nature. In a few instances, clarification was given about their rights, while in other cases it was agreed that the citizens will file a written inquiry.As a proposal to the RA governmental bodies, the Human Rights Ombudsman finds it necessary to promptly adopt the already drafted legislation regulating the freedom of assembly. This will create a more predictable environment for the organizers and participants in exercising their constitutional right to peaceful assembly.
The Human Rights Defender of Artsakh is in a visit to Budapest, Hungary, to attend an International Conference on “Victims of armed conflicts at the juncture of international humanitarian law and human rights law”. The Conference has been organized by the foreign affairs agencies of Hungary and Switzerland and is held on 11 May.
On 10 May Ruben Melikyan had meetings with the leadership and members of Armenian self-government in Hungary, with the Spokesman of the Armenian minority in the Hungarian Parliament Dr. Tamás Turgyán, as well as had an interview for the Armenian minority program, broadcasted by the Hungarian Public Radio.
While referring Ramil Safarov’s extradition issue, Mr. Melikyan highlighted its causal link with the atrocities conducted by Azerbaijani armed forces during the 2016 April War.
Mr. Melikyan particularly noted that Safarov`s glorification was accompanied by the state encouragement to set his crime exemplary for the Azerbaijani youth, and the example was taken in April 2016.
The ombudsman added that Artsakh people also remember the thousands of Hungarian citizens, who raised their voice of protest against the decision to extradite Safarov.
Within the framework of the fact-finding mission conducted since May 2016, the Human Rights Defender of Artsakh examined the facts of shelling of a border village of Talish (on February 24 and 25), as well as the events at the Martuni portion of the Artsakhi-Azerbaijani Line of Contact (at the night of February 24 to 25).
In particular, on March 2 a visit was made to Talish village as a fact-finding mission, which included interviews with representatives of the administration and the tiny civilian population living in Talish. In addition, basing on a video published in YouTube on February 26, an interview was conducted in regard to the events of the night of February 24 to 25 at the Martuni portion of the Artsakhi-Azerbaijani Line of Contact. The interviewee was an Artsakh Defence Army (ADA) serviceman, assigned to conduct video-monitoring.
As a result of the fact-finding mission in Talish, it was established that in the morning hours of February 24 and in the late evening hours of February 25, the Azerbaijani side fired a total of about 15 shells that exploded in the air and seriously endangered the inhabitants of the village. The main part of the shells exploded in the center of the village, near the school building. In other words, Azerbaijan carried out indiscriminate attacks towards civilian objects.
As a result of the interview on the events at the Artsakhi-Azerbaijani Line of Contact, it was established that Azerbaijani armed forces actually attempted to attack the soldiers protecting the state border of Artsakh (video recording is available via https://youtu.be/PGu1jUalsRA link). In case of achieving the goal, there was a large probability that atrocities similar to the war crimes committed during the 2016 April War would have been committed towards the ADA servicemen and civilian population. The aforementioned probability is self-evident, inter alia, due to gradually increasing level of Armenophobia in Azerbaijani society.
Thus, since February 26, Azerbaijani users of social media have begun actively distributing both the previously circulated and the newly-emerged photos and video recordings depicting war crimes committed during the 2016 April War by Azerbaijani armed forces. In a newly-emerged video recording, a soldier of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces actually makes a threat of "committing genocide" (0:07-0:21 seconds of the video recording). Moreover, all of the media materials that have been monitored by us, are ubiquitously accompanied by the obviously Armenophobic comments.
The cases of pre-organized atrocities committed by Azerbaijan during the 2016 April War have not yet been duly addressed by the international community, which serves to reinforce a perception of impunity for Azerbaijan. As a result, the events of February 24 and 25, 2017 at the Artsakhi-Azerbaijani Line of Contact appear to have a direct causal link with the events of April 2016.
Notice: The widespread cases of atrocities committed by Azerbaijan during the 2016 April War are thoroughly documented and published in three documents issued by Artsakh Human Rights Defender:
1. Interim Public Report on Atrocities Committed by Azerbaijani Military Forces against the Civilian Population of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and Servicemen of the Nagorno Karabakh Defence Army on 2-5 April (22.04.2016)
2. Legal Assessment: Facts on Human Shielding and Use of Indiscriminate Attacks against the Civilian Population of Nagorno Karabakh by Azerbaijani Military Forces (02.05.2016)
3. Second Interim Report on Atrocities Committed by Azerbaijan during the 2016 April War (09.12.2016)
The Office of Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Artsakh
EOI - STATEMENT ON THE ARREST AND EXTRADITION OF Mr. ALEXANDER LAPSHIN AND PROTECTION OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH
It is a matter of deep concern that a journalist and blogger Mr. Alexander Lapshin was arrested and then extradited.
The described situation tends to turn to an unacceptable situation violating freedom of expression and media.
Considering the fact that visits of civil society actors and journalists to Nagorno-Karabakh have invaluable significance in humanitarian sense and providing objective information about the situation there. Any action towards territorial limitation for fulfilling media representatives’ democratic mission is strongly condemnable. This decision on A. Lapshin’s extradition is a real threat to freedom of expression and media that lie at the heart of European values, as well as seriously endangers human rights values.
Apart from this, the extradition of Mr. Alexander Lapshin is very concerning because of real possibility of his torture and inhuman treatment. Clear sign of ill-treatment against Mr. Lapshin is that his arrest and transfer into another region was largely disseminated in media: handcuffed, apprehended by military in masks and with guns. Such treatment towards a journalist is impermissible.
It is especially worrying that someone, according to the information already received from some journalists, has sent letters to some of journalists with threats to prosecute them for their journalistic activties. It is not acceptable to use this impermissible step for artificial prosecutions and infringement of journalists’ and civil activists’ rights.
The European Ombudsman Institute welcomes the importance of reactions protecting freedom of speech in any territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and other regions, already delivered by the OSCE special representative for freedom of the media, some EU officials and human rights defender organizations.
For preventing such kind of vicious practice it should be preliminary confronted with strong condemnation.
The Ombudsman was ensured that Mr. Huseynzade had been provided with a public defender and an interpreter of Azerbaijani language, who were already present during a number of procedural actions.
During the confidential interview, Mr. Huseynzade did not complain about his health or treatment towards him.
The Ombudsman expressed his readiness to support, within his capacity, to the fulfillment of Mr. Huseynzade`s fundamental rights, including the right to a defense lawyer by his choice.
PUBLIC STATEMENTOn 30 May 2016 there were numerous reports in mass media on the fact of 10-hours-long detention of Luka Vardanyan, an 8-years-old Russian national, who arrived to Baku airport with his mother, Ms. Christina Constantinova, and his stepfather. Both of them are also Russian Nationals (see http://regnum.ru/news/2138706.html). The only reason for the minor’s detention was his Armenian surname which gave Azerbaijani authorities a “solid” ground of suspecting Luka for having an Armenian origin.
This unacceptable incident is a clear sign of Azerbaijan’s state-supported policy of Armenophobia comprehensively described and documented in the Artsakh Ombudsman’s Interim Public Report of April 21, 2016 (pp. 12-49) (http://ombudsnkr.am/Interim_Public_Report_NKR_Omb_FINAL.pdf).
I call onto the International Human Rights Organizations, especially those in child rights protection area for adequate response to this particular incident and to the policy of Armenaphobia, in general. This policy is the imminent cause of terrific atrocities committed by Azerbaijani Military Forces during the large-scale aggression against the Artsakh Republic in early April, 2016.
The proper condemnation by International Community of the incident can prevent spreading hate speech and incitement to violence against Armenians, and as a result – the gross Human Rights violations in the region.
Human Rights Defender of Artsakh Republic
Address of the NKR Human Rights Defender Yuri Hayrapetyan to members of the European Ombudsman Institute
In February 23, 2012 another speculative statement has been received into our electronic mails by the Azerbaijan ombudsman E. Suleymanova in connection with the events which took place 20 years ago in the village Khojalu, which she qualifies as “genocide committed by the Armenian aggressors against the Azerbaijani people.”
In this regard as the Ombudsman of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, in the territory of which is situated this settlement, and as a witness during the Azerbaijani military aggression against the self-recognized NKR, I declare with all responsibility that during the liberation of the village Khojalu from Azeri militantsthe detachments of the NKR self-defense had left a humanitarian corridor along the river Karkar for the civilian population to pass to the Azerbaijani town Aghdam.
Just inthis scenario were developed the further events, i.e. alsmost all the civilians had left the war zone. However, at the outskrits of Aghdam, i.e. outside the boundaries of Nagorno Karabakh residents of this village were killed by the Azerbaijanimilitants.
As the history has shown, this monstrous act pursued at least two aims:
1. To divert attention of the world society from the massacre of Armenian people in February 26-29, 1988 organized by the Azerbaijaniauthorities in Sumgait, as well as in Baku, Kirovabad, Khanlar and in other inhabited localities of Azerbaijan.
2.Incitement of discontentofthe Azeri people with the policy of the president of that time A. Mutalibov with aviewto accuse him in inability to lead the country and replace him with a more extreme and nationalistrepresentative of opposition, and soit happened.
Both the above mentioned act of vandalism, and the foreseen falsification of those events on behalf of Azerbaijan were proved by numerous evidences of foreign and Azerbaijani journalists.Therefore, instead of turning the institute of ombudsman headed by her into a tribune for anti-Armenian propaganda in favour of the authorities of her country by falsifying the historical facts and playing with feelings of people, E.Suleymanova should begin to study the real causes and scales of this tragedy, establishand bring to justice the real perpetrators. Many of them are now in the power of her country whilethe Azerbaijani journalist Chingiz Mustafayev who had a proof that the Khojalu tragedy was the work of the Azerbaijani opposition of that time, as well as the editor of the Azerbaijani magazine “Monitor” Elmar Huseynov who began to publish the truth about Khojalu were killed by the order of the Azerbaijani authorities. Moreover, a journalist of this publication Eymulla Fatullayev witha falsified accusation was deprived of freedomfor conducting independent investigation of these events. There is no doubt that in prison he would have suffered the fate of the two above mentioned journalists if the European Court of Human Rights did not demand his immediate release.
That is what the ombudsman of Azerbaijan should ex officio be interested in.
The list of really honest and decent citizens of Azerbaijan who could tell the truth about the Khojalu tragedy can be extended. But after that in Azerbaijan they either would be killed or sent to prison declaring them as traiters of the caountry and Mrs Suleymanova would never help them.She will not be able to do it, moreover, she will not want to. For it requires to be a real ombudsman but not anexecutor of political will of the country leaders, a country where even in the 21th century the power is not elected by the people but it is inherited from father to son, and the ombudsman protects this power from the people, not vice versa.
It is difficult to expect something else from aperson who, speaking about the Armenian genocide committed in the Ottoman Turkey in 1915-1923 during which were killed more than 1.5 million Armenians, as a sign of its rejection, takes these words into brackets and contemptuously calls it “notorious genocide” in the Russian version of her statement(page 6, last paragraph and page 7, 1st paragraph). Why is the word “notorious” missing in the English version of the same statement of E. Suleymanova? Is this an omission or another falsification characteristic to her? This is known only to the author. But as I see it, she, perhaps out of shame, has consciously narrowed the circle of those readers who are indignant by such a dehumanizing estimation. Moreover, her main purpose which consisted in satisfaction of the customer (the government) of this speculative statement, was achieved,- it was enough to submit the Russian version of the statement with the government.
Meanwhile, the mentioned fact of the Armenian Genocide is officially recognized by several dozens of countries, more than 20 indigenous nations of the world, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the World Council of Churches and the UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights
Is it known to Mrs. Suleymanova that before France the rejection of the fact of the Armenian Genocide was recognized as a crime under the laws of Switzerland and Slovakia? For her statement is addressed to the ombudsman of Slovakia as well as to eight regional ombudsmen of Switzerland. What does it mean?Juridical unawareness or ignoranceof the laws of these countries? I will not be surprised if the search for answers to these questions will implement the Prosecutors of Switzerland and Slovakia and in the future, perhaps, France as well.
I would not like to abuse Your time and distract You from the direct duties. I have to do this only because of, to say the least, a non-standard behavior of the ombudsman of Azerbaijan who instead of using the opportunities of the institute of ombudsman for rapprochement of two conflicting nations once again tries to slanderthe Armenian people before Your eyes and incite international discord.
It also gives rise to indignationthat ombudsman Suleymanova once again unscrupulously exploits her opportunities of being a member of the European Ombudsman Institute for political in form and anti-Armenian in content propaganda which is incompatible with the purposes and the objectives of the EOI.
I would like to hope that You will find time to read the documents of the NKR Ministry of Foreign Affairs attached to this appealand on the basis of these facts to freely form Your own opinion.
Document N1 Document N2
Thank You beforehand, Human Rights Defender
of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Yuri Hayrapetya
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