Vagif Khachatryan, at his trial, at right

Lemkin Institute condemns Artsakh man’s conviction in Azerbaijan

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The Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention on November 13 issued a statement in which it strongly condemned 68-year-old Artsakh Armenian Vagif Khachatryan’s conviction in Azerbaijan and called for international efforts to help release all Armenian persons held by Baku.

The statement said, in part, “The Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention energetically condemns the 15-year prison sentence handed down to Mr. Vagif Khachatryan on 7 November 2023 by the Republic of Azerbaijan.”

Khachatryan was detained at a checkpoint on July 29 the Azerbaijani authorities had erected on Hakari Bridge illegally, after a similarly illegal blockade of Artsakh’s Lachin Corridor.

“Mr. Khachatryan’s abduction took place before Azerbaijan’s military aggression against Artsakh on 19 September 2023, which resulted in massacre and atrocity and the consequent flight of almost 100 percent of its indigenous Armenian population to neighboring Armenia. The aggression, atrocity and forced displacement amount to a very thorough genocide of an ancient, continuous indigenous civilization. Upon his abduction, Mr. Khachatryan was immediately accused by Azerbaijani authorities of committing war crimes during the First Nagorno-Karabakh War in the 1990s, charges he has repeatedly denied and for which Azerbaijan has offered no independent evidence,” the statement continued.

“In this context, the Lemkin Institute recalls its ‘Statement on the Ongoing Imprisonment of Armenian Officials of the Republic of Artsakh by the Republic of Azerbaijan,’ issued on 27 October 2023. In that statement, the Lemkin Institute noted that: ‘At the present time, [Mr. Khachatryan] is on trial in Azerbaijan’s infamous judicial system, where violations of the fundamental guarantee of due process have become alarmingly common. In fact, according to one observer, Mr. Khachatryan’s statements are intentionally being mistranslated for Azerbaijani and Turkish audiences. Additionally, photos of Mr. Khachatryan have raised concerns about his potential mistreatment and deteriorating health.’”

The statement concluded, “The Lemkin Institute exhorts the international community, which seems to have forgotten the commission of atrocity crimes in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, as well as the looming threat of an invasion of the Republic of Armenia by Azerbaijan, to persuade the regime of President Aliyev into promptly releasing all Armenian persons under its jurisdiction and to refrain from providing any kind of assistance that could worsen the suffering of the victims of the Artsakh genocide or embolden Azerbaijan to perpetrate any unlawful act of aggression.”

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