To prevent the death of civilians, international community should urgently force official Yerevan to provide Azerbaijan with maps of minefields

Maharram Ibrahimov and Siraj Abishov

© APA | Maharram Ibrahimov and Siraj Abishov

# 05 June 2021 12:05 (UTC +04:00)

On June 4, Azerbaijani journalists were blown up and killed by an anti-tank mine.

On June 4, 2021, approximately at 11 am, the operator of the AzTV state channel Siraj Abishov and an employee of the AzerTAC state news agency Maharram Ibrahimov, as well as the deputy representative of the head of the IV in the village of Susuzlug, Kelbajar region, Arif Aliyev, being in a KAMAZ car, were killed in an anti-tank mine explosion. As a result of the incident, 4 more people were injured.

It is worth reminding that after the signing of the Trilateral Statement on November 10, 2020 between Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia, official Baku at all international platforms began to demand from Armenia, in accordance with the rules of warfare, international conventions, providing information on mined territories and maps of minefields. Unfortunately, official Yerevan still stubbornly refuses this, and the international community, guided by double standards, continues to remain silent.
As a result, since the day of the signing of the trilateral declaration, mines installed by Armenia during the occupation of Azerbaijani territories have resulted in the death and injury of more than 120 people. Armenia's refusal to provide maps of mined areas has hampered efforts to return internally displaced persons to their homes, after nearly 30 years, who fled their homes as a result of Armenia's occupation of Azerbaijani lands.

Armenia's refusal to provide these maps and other important information that could contribute to Azerbaijan's efforts to save lives is a gross violation of the rights of the Azerbaijani population arising from paragraphs 2 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, paragraph 1 of the First Protocol, paragraphs 2 (1) and 3 (2) of the Fourth Protocol to this convention.

After the tragic death of journalists, Azerbaijan for the second time sent an interstate lawsuit to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in connection with Armenia's refusal to provide relevant maps of mined territories that pose a danger to the lives of people in the liberated territories.

After the tragedy, many ambassadors of foreign countries in Baku, including a number of international organizations, expressed condolences over the death of Azerbaijani journalists.

They also include Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. They called the deaths of Azerbaijani journalists terrible news.

Yesterday the International Federation of Journalists and the European Federation of Journalists in a statement called on Armenia to provide a map of the mined territories of Azerbaijan.

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic said that "a mine explosion in Kelbajar, which killed three people, including two media representatives, and injured several people, demonstrates the urgent need to clean up the conflict-affected areas of Nagorno-Karabakh through international cooperation."

In addition, Georgy Gogia, Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch for Europe and Central Asia, said that “it is of particular concern if a mine was recently planted and its target was civilians. Mines pose a constant threat to civilians and hinder post-conflict reconstruction. ”

It is worth emphasizing that after the signing of the Trilateral Declaration and the beginning of peace processes in the region, Armenia's behavior indicates that the Armenian authorities are violating their obligations to the international community. And this is another clear proof of Armenia's total disrespect for the norms and principles of international humanitarian law. Dozens of Azerbaijani civilians have already become victims of the explosions of these unmarked mines. More than a million Azerbaijani IDPs are still unable to return to their homelands due to the fact that Armenia refuses to provide a map of minefields. This is yet another proof of the flagrant violations of human rights by Armenia.

The Armenians, true to their treacherous nature, also mined non-military territories. They did this on purpose and, of course, pursued the goal of destroying as many people as possible. Despite the fact that Azerbaijan creates conditions for the implementation of all the provisions of the trilateral statement of November 10, 2020, shows humanism in many issues, the Armenian side continues to commit provocations and criminal actions.

Recall that back in December, the National Agency for Mine Action in Azerbaijan (ANAMA) announced that approximately 80-85% of the liberated territories are considered dangerous for movement and that the Armenian armed forces mined every meter of the now liberated regions of Azerbaijan.

After the liberation of the occupied territories, began the process of demining them. By the way, it is worth paying attention to one more circumstance. Over the course of 30 years, when the Azerbaijani lands were under occupation, Armenia received millions from various international funds, allegedly for demining the territories.

Earlier, American and European organizations allocated large funds for demining the Karabakh lands. Thus, the head of the USAID office in Yerevan, Karen Hilliard, stated back in 2014 that the territories occupied by Armenia would be cleared of mines by 2016. It was noted that from 2000 to the present day, 251 areas have been cleared. From the statements made, it was clear that only 5% of non-mined territories remained. According to K. Hilliard, the HALO Trust has allocated 5 million US dollars for this purpose.

It turns out that the organizations that allegedly allocated money to the separatist regime for demining were disguising their activities.
On the other hand, the armed forces of Armenia mined the occupied territories of Azerbaijan not only during the occupation, but also after. So, after the signing of the Trilateral Treaty on November 10, 2020, according to the agreements, the Armenian armed forces had to leave a number of Azerbaijani regions within a few weeks. Taking advantage of the humanism of official Baku and giving the Armenians time to leave the Aghdam and Kelbajar regions of Azerbaijan, the Armenians were engaged in mining the territories before leaving.

Just recently, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry announced that a reconnaissance and sabotage group of the armed forces of Armenia "made an attempt to cross the Armenian-Azerbaijani state border" in the direction of the settlement of Yukhari Ayrim of the Kelbajar region.

There were detained six servicemen who tried to mine the supply lines leading to the positions of the Azerbaijani army on the border. Later, the acting Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan confirmed that the Armenian military had been mining, but denied the charge of sabotage. It turns out that the Armenian sabotage groups, despite the ceasefire, still continue to cross the Azerbaijani border and purposefully pursue the goal of killing peaceful innocent citizens of Azerbaijan by mining the territory.

The aide to the President of Azerbaijan also says that the territories were mined recently, where the journalists were killed yesterday. According to Assistant to the President of Azerbaijan - Head of the Foreign Policy Department of the Presidential Administration Hikmet Hajiyev, AzTV and AZERTAC journalists have become victims of a mine deliberately laid by Armenia during the withdrawal of its troops from Kelbajar.

So, we have once again witnessed how civilians and journalists are dying as a result of being blown up by these mines. It is worth noting that Armenia, along with the use of anti-vehicle mines, has also planted anti-personnel mines in all previously occupied territories, which violates the principle of prohibition of indiscriminate attacks of international humanitarian law. At the same time, Armenia refuses to provide maps of mined territories. To prevent the death of civilians, the international community should urgently force official Yerevan to provide Azerbaijan with maps of minefields.

Zaur Mammadov,
Senior lecturer at the Academy of Public Administration under the President, chairman of the Baku Political Scientists Club

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