STEPANAKERT, NKR (A.W.)—On April 22, the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic (NKR/Artsakh) human rights defender (ombudsman) published an interim public report detailing the various human rights abuses Azerbaijani forces carried out on both NKR civilians and Defense Army servicemen. The 28-page report is titled, “Atrocities Committed by Azerbaijani Military Forces against the Civilian Population of the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic and Servicemen of the Nagorno-Karabagh Defense Army on 2-5 April, 2016.”
“The most horrifying facts are the killings of peaceful civilians of Nagorno-Karabagh through cruel and inhuman methods of execution and mutilation. Similar practices of humiliation were applied in relation to members of the NKR Defense Army. Moreover, some of the NKR soldiers were, along with other forms of dismemberment, also subjected to beheading,” read the report. Several graphic images of the abuses were also published in the report.
The interim report details Azerbaijan’s policy of hatred and discrimination towards Armenians, including policies of spreading hate speech in Azerbaijani mass media and social networks, and their effects.
“The ISIS-style atrocities, deeply rooted in Azerbaijan’s state-supported propaganda of hatred and violence, gravely endanger the European human rights system as a whole. This situation threatens to escalate largely with unpredictable consequences if not effectively prevented and duly acted upon by the international community,” read the report.
On April 10, the NKR Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the bodies of 18 servicemen of the NKR Defense Army, killed as a result of the large-scale military aggression carried out by Azerbaijani Armed Forces on April 2-5, were transferred to the NKR side in an exchange of bodies, and that all of the bodies transferred to the NKR side exhibited signs of torture and mutilation.
The exchange took place between NKR and Azerbaijan near the Bash Karvend settlement, and was carried out through the mediation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Office of the Personal Representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Chairman in Office, according to a statement published by the press service of the NKR Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Following the exchange, the NKR State Commission on Prisoners of War, Hostages, and Missing Persons registered that all of the bodies of the deceased servicemen transferred by Azerbaijan had visible signs of torture and mutilation. The commission also condemned the acts as running counter to the laws and customs of war and in violation of international humanitarian law.
“The Karabagh side will seek to ensure that such behavior of the Azerbaijani side is condemned in the strongest terms by the international community and the specialized agencies, and those responsible are brought into account,” read its statement.
Authorities in both Armenia and NKR are in the process of compiling evidence of the crimes, and will continue to raise the issue of Azerbaijan’s violations of international humanitarian law in international arenas.
The interim public report published by the NKR ombudsman comes with an 18+ age warning, as it contains pictures and descriptions of brutality and mutilation. The report can be read in its entirety here.