ALC submits cases to UN Working Group for Involuntary Disappearances following catastrophic explosion in Artsakh

On September 25, 2023, a catastrophic explosion at a fuel station in Berkadzor, near Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh, resulted in the deaths of at least 218 people, caused hundreds of injuries and left numerous individuals missing. 

The International and Comparative Law Center, under the auspices of the Armenian Legal Center (ALC), has submitted 20 cases to the U.N. Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. The cases, discovered through a thorough fact-finding mission, seek international intervention and assistance in locating the missing individuals.

This incident occurred amid the mass exodus of more than 120,000 ethnic Armenians following a 10-month blockade and a 24-hour military offensive by Azerbaijan, which forced the Armenian population to flee the region. The explosion occurred as people were waiting in line to fill their vehicles with gasoline amidst the chaotic evacuation. Witnesses recounted harrowing stories of their loved ones who disappeared following the explosion at the fuel station.

The Azerbaijani armed forces are believed to be responsible for these disappearances, as the area was under their effective control shortly after the explosion. Families have appealed to Armenian state agencies, the Artsakh government and the Red Cross but have received no information or results. 

Several individuals were seen shortly before the blast, yet their whereabouts remain unknown. A young man summoned his father and uncles to the station, yet upon their arrival, he was nowhere to be found. His personal belongings, including his phone and keys, were also missing. In another instance, a father and son arrived together, but the father was unable to locate his son after being thrown into a ditch by the blast.

These narratives underscore the deep personal anguish experienced by numerous families, each grappling with the hope for resolution and the safe return of those who remain unaccounted for. The ALC remains resolute in seeking justice for the missing individuals and their families, ensuring that their cases are thoroughly investigated and addressed.

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.

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