Azerbaijani Ombudsman appeals to int’l organizations over anniversary of January 20 tragedy

Fri 11 Jan 2019 18:11 GMT | 22:11 Local Time

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Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman) of Azerbaijan Elmira Suleymanova has issued a statement to the international organizations in connection with the anniversary of the January 20 tragedy, Trend reports with reference to the Ombudsman’s Office.

The statement is addressed to the UN secretary-general, UN Security Council, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UN Human Rights Council, UNICEF, UNESCO, European Union, European Council, OSCE, International and European Ombudsman Institutes, Asian Ombudsman Association, European Network of Ombudsmen for Children, Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Network of Ombudsmen Offices, International Peace Bureau, foreign ombudsmen, embassies of Azerbaijan and the foreign embassies to Azerbaijan, as well as the Azerbaijani diaspora.

“Twenty-nine years pass from the bloody January 20, 1990 tragedy,” reads the statement. “This indelible crime against humanity is commemorated each time with a heavy heart. This bloody event engraved on the memories as Black January is both the day of commemoration of our martyrs and the day of solidarity, pride, and honor of our people fighting for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. These events once again demonstrated that our people are determined to fight for the independence and restoration of their violated rights.”

“Thus, as a result of the support by former USSR leadership to the rising Armenian separatism in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast, which is an integral part of Azerbaijan, and biased position towards our country, gradual removal of the departments and organizations of the mentioned oblast from the subordination of our republic, deportation of the Azerbaijanis from their historical-ethnic lands in Armenia, exposure of compatriots to severe torture and violence exhausted our people’s patience,” the statement said. “The January 20 massacre was committed upon the instruction of the Soviet government of that period in order to suppress the right protest of our people, to prevent the expanding liberation movement in Azerbaijan.”

The statement reads that on the night from Jan. 19 to 20, 1990, the Soviet troops were suddenly deployed to Baku and Sumgait, other cities and districts of the country in military vessels, tanks, and other heavy military equipment, and started to fire at people.

"Thus, international law norms, provisions of the former USSR and Azerbaijan SSR constitutions were grossly violated, violent crime was committed against our multinational people, who stood in defense of freedom of the homeland and its own rights.”

“Armed forces entered Baku, killed 168 unarmed civilians, mercilessly regardless of their nationality, age or sex, including children, women and elderly; 744 peaceful innocent people in the capital, suburban settlements, and surrounding areas were injured; hundreds of people went missing; 841 persons were illegally arrested,” reads the statement. “Even the ambulances and physicians carrying the injured persons were fired at. Therefore, medical staff members became martyrs or were injured. Use of prohibited weapons resulted in immeasurable destruction. The energy block of the State Television was exploded as a result of sabotage organized by the USSR Committee of State Security with the purpose of concealing the events from the population."

“At that period, a harsh statement was made by National Leader Heydar Aliyev in Moscow on behalf of the Azerbaijani people and he demanded a legal assessment to the massacre committed against our people on January 20 and punishment of the perpetrators,” the statement said. “It should be noted that those events couldn’t break the will of our people, and the fight for freedom resulted in restoring the independence of Azerbaijan in 1991.”

“At the initiative of President Heydar Aliyev, a special session of the Milli Majlis [Azerbaijani Parliament] was held and this bloodshed was given a political-legal assessment,” reads the statement. “Every year the date of January 20 is commemorated as the National Day of Mourning in our Republic, and on this day the martyrs are remembered by hundreds of thousands of people with deep respect.”

“According to the presidential decree, citizens of Azerbaijan, of different nationalities, killed during the tragedy were awarded the honorary title of the “Martyr of the January 20”, and in line with the Decree on Increasing the State Care for Persons who Became Disabled during January 20 Events, different measures are implemented, these persons are entitled to relevant allowances by the state, and the martyrs' families are provided the Presidential Pensions,” the statement said.

"As in previous years, this year also the Action Plan on Commemorating the 29th Anniversary of the Tragedy of January 20 has been approved by the relevant decree with the purpose of directing the focus of the international community to those bloody events and is now implemented," reads the statement. "This horrible tragedy caused the massacre of the civilian population. Consequently, the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other international legal documents were grossly violated. Nevertheless, despite being one of the most horrible crimes of the 20th century for its nature and scale, the January 20 events haven’t received international legal assessment so far; those who ordered and perpetrated the bloodshed haven’t been punished.”

“Under the international law, the January 20 tragedy should be classified as a crime against humanity,” the statement said. “Thus, according to the Article 7 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court, extermination, enforced disappearance of persons, other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great sufferings, serious injury to the body, to mental or physical health are classified as crimes against humanity.”

"At that time, the leaders of the Soviet state supported Armenia with that crime, grossly violating the international legal norms, which resulted in the long-lasting Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan. Ethnic cleansing and a genocide were committed, 20 percent of our country's territories were occupied, local Azerbaijani population was forcibly expelled from the territory of Armenia, as well as Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven adjacent districts, an integral part of our republic,” reads the statement. “These actions resulted in a massive violation of the fundamental rights of the civilian population and still more than one million compatriots live as refugees and IDPs.”

“The Azerbaijani side constantly strives for the peaceful settlement of the conflict, proposes initiatives,” the statement said. “President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has stated the crucial importance of the peaceful settlement of the conflict only within the territorial integrity of our republic, withdrawal of the occupying forces from the Azerbaijani lands, repeatedly and resolutely on the platforms of influential international organizations, including UN General Assembly. This is reflected in the corresponding decisions of the influential international organizations, including the European Parliament's resolution adopted on Dec 12, 2018, in which the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan was emphasized once more.”

"It should be mentioned that there are enough legal documents to classify the January 20 events, committed 29 years ago, as a crime against humanity, is one of the gravest kinds of international crimes. At the same time, there is sufficient evidence on the criminal responsibility of the persons who ordered and committed this massacre, and first of all, the leaders of the Soviet state of that period."

"Impunity of persons who committed such acts is contrary to the targeted universal priorities, UN Principles, and Sustainable Development Goals,” the statement said. “We call on the world community and international organizations to support justified demands of the Azerbaijani people, and in order to bring the perpetrators of this crime to deserved punishment, to assist in giving to these bloody acts an international legal assessment."

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