ALC confronts Azerbaijani atrocities

UN Committee against Torture session highlights urgent need for justice

Under the auspices of the Armenian Legal Center (ALC), Raffi Kalfayan, representing the Center for International and Comparative Law, and Artak Beglaryan, president of the Artsakh Union, recently joined forces with several Armenian non-governmental organizations to address Azerbaijani atrocities at the U.N. Committee against Torture session in Geneva on April 22-23. Their participation extended to a series of discussions with various U.N. entities.

The focus of the session revolved around Azerbaijan’s compliance with the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. In response, the Center for International and Comparative Law, the Rights and Justice Center “Tatoyan” Foundation, the “Arbane” Foundation and the “Union for the Protection of the Interests and Rights of the Artsakh People” NGO submitted a comprehensive report on March 18. This report, presented as a counter to Azerbaijan’s fifth periodic report to the committee, highlighted instances of ethnic hatred directed towards Armenians since 2016.

During a briefing for non-governmental organizations, Kalfayan and Beglaryan outlined numerous cases of ethnic hostility perpetrated by Azerbaijan against Armenians, citing the surge in torture and other crimes that escalated in the 2020-2023 Artsakh siege and mass displacement. The duo specifically addressed the grim conditions within Azerbaijani prisons, drawing attention to testimonies from repatriated Armenian prisoners. They emphasized the urgent need for international intervention to safeguard and release Armenians detained in Azerbaijani custody.

In discussions with the Committee against Torture and the Azerbaijani delegation, NGO representatives described Azerbaijan’s dissemination of false information to obfuscate its mass crimes and distort the essence of the Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Todd Buchwald, Committee expert and country co-rapporteur, highlighted reports of violence against Armenian POWs, including a disturbing video depicting an Azerbaijani soldier beheading an Armenian amidst applause from onlookers. Buchwald demanded accountability and justice for such atrocities.

In response, the Azerbaijani delegation, headed by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan Samir Sharifov, denied allegations of Geneva Conventions violations towards Armenian POWs, claiming that prisoners received proper medical treatment and were repatriated following the November 2020 trilateral declaration. They asserted that investigations into reported abuses were conducted, resulting in disciplinary measures and sentences for offenders.

The Azerbaijani delegation attempted to paint a rosy picture of the country’s human rights record over the past five years. However, despite Sharifov’s assertions of progress, Azerbaijan’s purported reforms are little more than a façade, designed to mask the government’s continued suppression of dissent and systematic human rights abuses.

Sharifov touted legislative amendments and new programs supposedly aimed at bolstering human rights and fundamental freedoms. However, these claims are met with skepticism, given Azerbaijan’s long-standing reputation for stifling dissent and political opposition.

Kalfayan and Beglaryan engaged in discussions with representatives of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. During these meetings, they spotlighted Azerbaijani crimes and the challenges faced by Armenians in Artsakh and Armenia, urging action from international bodies to address these ongoing violations.

The committee is set to release its final remarks regarding Azerbaijan’s report at the conclusion of its 79th session on May 10.

Armenian Legal Center for Justice & Human Rights
Based in Washington DC, the Armenian Legal Center for Justice & Human Rights is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nongovernmental organization with the mission to pursue justice for human rights violations emanating from the Armenian Genocide including the regional security of the Armenia and Artsakh Republics.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.