At the initiative and support of Open Society Foundations – Armenia, the human rights defenders of Armenia and Artsakh participated in the 107th session of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva recently and presented an alternative report detailing the manifestations of the Armenian-hating and racist policy of Azerbaijan towards ethnic Armenians. On August 8, within the framework of the Committee’s meeting with non-governmental organizations, Margarita Karamyan, the representative of the community affected by the crimes committed by the Azerbaijani armed forces during and after the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh, the president of the “Return to Dizak” NGO, gave a speech. “We presented the whole package of the racist policy implemented by Azerbaijan towards Armenians,” Margarita Karamyan, who returned from Geneva, said during Aravot’s “Areresum (Confrontation)” program. She said that after their speeches, Azerbaijani human rights defender Sabina Aliyeva said that there are Russian peacekeeping troops in Artsakh and they are in control of the situation. “She tried to somehow transfer the responsibility to the Russian side so that they cannot even say what is happening there. We also talked about recent events and said that the only humanitarian corridor, Berdzor, which connects Artsakh with Armenia and the outside world, is now in danger and may pass to Azerbaijan. I presented that not only the road will pass, but also the communications.”
The speakers also presented a number of recommendations that were included in the reports previously sent to the committee by non-governmental organizations. It should be noted that with the initiative and support of Open Society Foundations – Armenia, the Vanadzor office of the Helsinki Civil Assembly, the Foundation for the Development and Protection of Rights, and the Protection of Rights without Borders NGO, the fact-finding report Human Rights Violations during the 44-Day Artsakh War was prepared. The same organizations, as well as the Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center NGO, submitted an alternative report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination regarding Azerbaijan’s violations of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
The organizations recommended that the UN Committee call on the government of Azerbaijan to end anti-Armenian rhetoric, condemn and investigate statements by politicians, including high-ranking officials, that incite racial hatred against Armenians, bring the perpetrators to justice, end impunity for hate crimes against Armenians, investigate the cases of hate crimes committed against Armenians, etc.
The other guest of the “Areresum” program, Artur Sakunts, the head of the Vanadzor office of the Helsinki Civic Assembly, answered the question, “What are their hopes and expectations that their appeals will be responded to?” “Having presented it once, hoping that a decision should be made at once is, of course, naïve. But the issue of responsibility for war crimes and all manifestations based on racial discrimination must always be kept on the agenda in international courts, it is unequivocal. It’s not like you present it to those international structures once and the issue is resolved.”
According to him, the meaning of the fact-finding report is as follows: “The facts are brought together, they are substantiated, and with each fact, until action is taken, the government of Azerbaijan has not presented convincing justifications to the international structures that they will not be repeated again… And that means that in addition to the presentation of the report, it is also regularly referred to what actions have been taken in the direction of the recommendations presented in the report. In other words, the behavior is taken under control, and in the course of it, you regularly reflect and update the situation related to those problems and obligations with new data. As a state that has ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Azerbaijan will also regularly submit a report on the implementation of the convention. This means that not only should he submit a report, but also alternative reports should be submitted regarding his obligations. And the expectation is that the process should continue, and it should not only be done by public organizations.” According to Artur Sakunts, state representatives also have important work to do.
The entire discussion is in the video.