Fire in the Yeraskh village in Ararat Province

Armenia’s Ombudsman Says Azerbaijani Forces Fortifying Positions in Gegharkunik, Ararat Provinces

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YEREVAN (Public Radio of Armenia) — The Azerbaijani armed forces that invaded Armenia’s Gegharkunik region in May have built large shelters, accumulated a large amount of firewood, and paved the roads leading to their positions, Armenia’s Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan said this week.

The Ombudsman says the Azerbaijani forces continue to build new roads, as well as increase their numbers and armaments in the positions. They are constantly carrying out active engineering work to reinforce the positions, Tatoyan said.

“We are talking about the illegal deployment of Azerbaijanis and their criminal acts in the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia,” Tatoyan said, noting that they are physically present in the very lands that belong to the citizens of the Republic of Armenia with the rights established by legal documents.

The data was confirmed by the staff of the Human Rights Defender, including the Gegharkunik regional subdivision, with reliable evidence and data verified by several sources.

“These are the Azerbaijani positions from where the Azerbaijani servicemen commit terrorist crimes against the civilian population of Armenia. They regularly fire on the villages of Verin Shorzha, Sotk, Kut and other settlements in Gegharkunik, in particular on civilian houses, and set fire to the pastures and grasslands of civilians. The officers of these positions have committed a large number of thefts of animals of the residents of the Republic of Armenia,” Tatoyan said.

According to him, the presence of the Azerbaijani armed forces in the vicinity of the villages of the Republic of Armenia and in the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia is of an openly criminal nature, it in itself violates the villagers’ to live safely, their rights to property and family income and other vital rights. Their presence disrupts the peaceful life of the people.

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Therefore, the Ombudsman insists, the process of creating a demilitarized security zone around the borders of the Republic of Armenia, the immediate removal of Azerbaijani servicemen from the vicinity of the villages of the Republic of Armenia, and the roads between the communities must begin immediately.

In addition, Yeraskh, a village in the Ararat province, is subjected to regular shelling by the Azerbaijani armed forces, both during the day and at night, Tatoyan says.

The village last came under shelling on October 15.

“The unruliness of the Azerbaijani servicemen has reached such a level that they set fire through intentional shootings to 8000 stacks of grass belonging to a resident of Yeraskh community. The entire winter stockpile, which the citizen had collected to feed his livestock, has been destroyed,” the Ombudsman said in a Facebook post.

Moreover, he said, the fire spread destroying the roof of the barn belonging to the citizen. The fire was extinguished only thanks to timely intervention of the firefighters.

“Taking into consideration that the Azerbaijani positions are located in the immediate vicinity of the village, it is obvious to Azerbaijani servicemen that their actions are harming the residents of the village, destroying their property, violating their rights to life and property, and disturbing their life and peace.” Tatoyan said.

He insists that the process of creating a demilitarized security zone around the borders of Armenia with Azerbaijan and the removal of the Azerbaijani armed servicemen form the vicinity of the villages and from the roads between the communities of Armenia should start immediately.

“The proposal of the Human Rights Defender of Armenia has already been included in an international instrument – in Resolution 2391 (2021) of September 27, 2021 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). The Human Rights Defender will send relevant reports about this situation to international organizations, to the State bodies of Armenia, and to civil society organizations,” the Ombudsman said.

“It is evident that the basis of these criminal harassments and the gross violations of human rights is the same: the policy of Armenophobia and enmity, and of ethnic cleansing and genocide. This policy has institutional bases, and the violations will not end, and the security of the people will not be guaranteed unless the perpetrators are punished,” Tatoyan concluded.

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