WARNING! GRAPHIC CONTENT
This article includes graphic descriptions of violence, war crimes and murder. Please proceed with caution and practice self-care when reading this article.
Article by Administration at www.Ragex.co
On December 27, 2020, Azerbaijan staged a ‘foiled diversion’ supposedly carried out by a subversive Armenian group. On this pretext, Azerbaijani soldiers brutally executed 4-5 Armenian POWs and hostages, taken captive during the 2020 Artsakh/ Nagorno-Karabakh War and after the ceasefire agreement. At least one of the killed soldiers was identified as a 19-year-old Armenian who was seen on other videos alive while in captivity. The identification of the Armenian soldier on various videos proves that the supposedly foiled diversion of December 27, 2020, was staged. This horrific act of violence constitutes a war crime under the Rome Statute and attests to a grave violation of international humanitarian law. The multitude, extent and systemic nature of the war crimes committed by the Azerbaijani armed forces in this war demonstrate a pattern tied to the culture of impunity that reigns in the Azerbaijani society and, even more prominently, in the Azerbaijani army.
On September 27, 2020, in the middle of the Corona pandemic, Turkey-backed Azerbaijani forces began an unprovoked full-scale military aggression against the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). The human cost of the six-week war was colossal. Official reports suggest deaths of about 6000 souls combined, but the real figure is believed to be a lot bigger. A typical 1:3 deaths to injured ratio suggests the number of the injured from both sides well exceeds 18.000, meaning Armenia has at least 10.000 injured soldiers. This puts enormous pressure on healthcare, rehabilitation and social systems in the country, which is already heavily hit by extremely high numbers of daily corona-positives — among the top five on world charts — and economic challenges caused by long-term lock-downs. On November 9, 2020, a Russia-brokered trilateral cease-fire agreement was signed between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which ended hostilities. Russian peacekeepers and equipment were transported overnight and deployed on Artsakh territories as per the agreement.
Multiple War Crimes by Azerbaijan
During and after the 6-week war, Turkey-backed Azerbaijani armed forces have committed hundreds of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including but not limited to: illegal capture and confinement, mutilation, executions, beheadings, torture and humiliation towards both the military and civilian population; targeting cities and towns, use of banned weapons such as cluster munitions and phosphorus; targeting, vandalization, or destruction of civilian infrastructure, sites and objects of religious and cultural heritage and private property.
Crimes Against POWs & Captured Civilians
Azerbaijan has captured hundreds of Armenians during the war as well as after the cease-fire agreement was signed. To this date, after months of negotiations, Azerbaijan has returned only about 55-60 captives in direct violation of the terms of the agreement. The leading attorney representing the families of Armenian captives reports that over 230 captives are still in Azerbaijan, and Baku denies their existence, even though most of them are claimed based on documented evidence of proof of life after capture. Azerbaijan artificially delays the process of exchange of the captives, uses the issue both as a bargaining chip to terrorize and further traumatize the Armenian society.
Captured Armenian POWs and civilians have been used and abused by the Azeri Armed forces in many ways. Aside from a large variety of abuses, from forcing to kiss the Azerbaijani flag or stating inappropriate texts, to beating and torture, Azeri soldiers have also used POWs in creating fake narratives on killings in Khojaly in 1992, and on the supposed use of mercenaries from the middle east by the Armenian side through forced confessions on video.
Staged diversion in Hadrut & willful killing of POWs
One of the most heinous crimes against humanity happened after the ceasefire agreement, in late December — an Armenian diversion was staged as a false flag to justify the willful killing of Armenian captives. Azerbaijani Army faked a supposedly foiled diversion in occupied Hadrut on December 27, 2020, and killed at least four Armenian POWs on the pretext of an attempted attack against the Azerbaijani positions in Hadrut. One of the killed soldiers was identified as a 19-year-old Armenian soldier taken hostage by the Azerbaijani armed forces in early December of 2020 after the ceasefire agreement entered into force. The identified soldier was seen in previous videos alive while in captivity.
That evening the Azerbaijani side released videos and statements claiming Armenian subversive armed groups have tried to carry out a diversion in newly occupied Hadrut and were subsequently eliminated. In the videos shot by perpetrators on private phone cameras, that appeared on Azeri-run channels on the popular messaging app Telegram, perpetrators depict the scene of the staged diversion where at least 4-5 bodies are visible, killed execution-style and wearing uniforms compatible with that of the Armenian armed forces. Perpetrators are acting celebratory and their faces are not covered.
In one of the videos, the body of one of the POW victims is being dragged by a metal chain around the neck. Victims’ faces are not distinctly visible and identifiable except for one, that is supposedly Erik G. (full name withheld to protect the identity of victim), a 19-year-old Armenian conscript who was fighting in the 2020 Artsakh war, was captured by Azeris after the ceasefire and allegedly killed in cold blood during the staged diversion of Hadrut.
Erik’s exact date of capture (kidnapping) is not known, but the last contact with his relatives was on December 12, 2020. The place of his capture is also unknown as we were unable to geolocate any of the videos of his primary capture.
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1. Footage 1 depicts Erik G. captured by the Azeri soldiers, showing Erik standing with his hands tied behind his back, surrounded by at least 8 Azeri soldiers forcing him to recite the Azerbaijani campaign slogan “Qarabag Azerbaycandir”, which translates to “Karabakh is Azerbaijan”. The footage is dated December 13, 2020.
2. In footage 2, Erik G. is being transported to an unknown location still wearing his military jacket. The footage is also dated December 13, 2020. It is speculated that the Azeri forces may have transported him on the same day to another location.
3. On December 27, 2020, Azerbaijani forces released statements about skirmishes, accusing “Armenian Forces” of attacking Azeri positions in occupied Hadrut of the Republic of Artsakh. They claimed the following footage was from the gunfight that took place on that date. We believe the footage is fake (i.e. staged) and released for propaganda purposes to justify the killings of Armenian soldiers they already had in custody.
4. On December 29, 2020, a video was released claiming the killed soldiers depicted in the video were Armenians who had attacked Azeri positions in the newly occupied Hadrut region of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). A claim not supported by any real evidence or confirmation by other parties, observers and peacekeepers. In fact, as one of the killed soldiers was identified on various videos to be alive while in captivity, proves that the supposedly foiled diversion of December 27, 2020, was staged using POWs and post-ceasefire captives.
5. The final footage shows the lifeless bodies of the supposed subversive group among whom Erik G. His lifeless body, with his face uncovered and identifiable, can be seen at the 01:30 time stamp in the video below. Subsequently, at time stamp 01:50, the video shows how a metal chain was wrapped around Erik’s neck. The video ends with gloating Azerbaijani soldiers dragging his lifeless body by the chain.
These horrific acts of willful killing, execution of an unarmed hostage, mutilation and desecration of a body — constitute a war crime.
Gross Violations of International Humanitarian Law & the Geneva Convention
Azerbaijani forces have violated regulations of the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, adopted on August 12, 1949, by the Diplomatic Conference for the Establishment of International Conventions for the Protection of Victims of War, held in Geneva from April 21 to August 12, 1949, and entered into force on October 21, 1950.
Article 3 of the convention states the following:
In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:
1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.
To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(a) Violence to life and person, in particular, the murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment, and torture;
(b) Taking of hostages;
(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;
(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
2. The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.
An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.
The Parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention.
The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.
The inhumane treatment of Armenian captives by Azerbaijani armed forces is characterised by a wide-spread and well-documented practice of abuse, executions and torture. The multitude, extent and systemic nature of the war crimes committed by the Azerbaijani armed forces in this war demonstrate a pattern associated with the culture of impunity that governs the Azerbaijani society and, even more prominently, the Azerbaijani army when it comes to hate crimes against Armenians. These sentiments are the direct result of years of institutionalised anti-Armenianism and Armenophobia in Azerbaijan — state-endorsed and praised public hate-speech and dehumanisation of ethnic Armenians by Azerbaijani authorities, including many high-ranking officials and public figures, echoes through all levels of Azerbaijani society and is manifested through the Azerbaijani educational system.