Civil society organizations call on int’l community to ramp up efforts to identify Azerbaijanis missing due to Armenian military aggression
The civil society organizations have made an appeal to the international community to ramp up efforts to identify Azerbaijanis who went missing as a result of Armenian military aggression, News.Az reports.
“We, the undersigned civil society organizations appeal to the international community with this statement as a wake-up call on the thousands of Azerbaijanis who went missing as a result of Armenia's military aggression against Azerbaijan.
The situation highlights the tragic human toll and the urgent need for international efforts to address the issue of missing persons and provide assistance to their families.
Due to Armenia's military aggression against Azerbaijan around 30 years, a total of 3,890 Azerbaijanis were officially registered as missing during the first Karabakh war. Among them, 3,171 were military personnel and 719 were civilians. Regrettably, among the civilians, 71 were children, 267 were women, and 326 were elderly. Among the overall number of missing persons, 872 people, including 29 children, 98 women, and 112 elderly people, were either taken hostage or unable to leave the area due to being elderly and unwell. Heartbreakingly, in some instances, entire families and generations vanished, disappearing alongside their relatives.
Furthermore, during the Second Karabakh War, six Azerbaijani individuals became unaccounted for, and to this day, there exists no information whatsoever regarding their whereabouts or fate.
International humanitarian law (IHL) addresses the issue of missing persons during armed conflicts, and the Geneva Conventions 1949 set out specific requirements and protections for such situations. According to the international humanitarian law requirements, parties to a conflict are obligated to search for and account for missing persons. This includes both combatants who have fallen out of contact during the conflict and civilians who may have been separated from their families. Parties are required to collect and provide information about the missing information and to facilitate communication between detainees and their families. They must also facilitate the identification of deceased individuals and provide information to their families.
Families of missing persons have the right to know the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones. However, Armenia avoids and persistently refuses to ensure the provision of information on the missing persons to their families to identify and contact with them. Armenia denies the identification of the fate of missing persons for 30 years up to date.
According to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, Detaining Power shall ensure that information about prisoners of war who have died is recorded and transmitted to the Power on which these prisoners depend. The Detaining Power shall also inform the Power concerned about prisoners of war who are transferred, released, or escape.
In essence, the Geneva Conventions emphasize the human rights and dignity of individuals affected by armed conflicts, including those who have gone missing, and aim to alleviate the suffering experienced by their families. Concealing the information on missing Azerbaijanis, Armenia blatantly violates the international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions mentioned above, and the human rights, rights of missing persons and their families concerning the whereabouts of their loved ones.
For over three decades, families of missing persons in Azerbaijan have been denied this fundamental right by Armenia.
The investigation of "Karabakh Families of Missing Persons" Public Union (https://azertag.az/en/xeber/Karabakh_Missing_Families_Public_Union_sends_appeal_to_UN-2718076) reveal that during the First Karabakh War, 61 families experienced the disappearance of 2 to 7 members each, yet the fate of none of them is known. This grave circumstance not only deeply affects the families of the Azerbaijani missing people but also a shame for the humanity.
Recent years have witnessed significant efforts by relevant state institutions in the Republic of Azerbaijan to shed light on the fate of the missing individuals. These initiatives encompass collecting biological samples from families, extracting DNA profiles, and conducting excavations in the liberated territories, instilling the families with a sense of hope. Nonetheless, the revelation of 9 mass graves within a brief span fills our hearts with sorrow.
Among these mass graves, one was unearthed in the village of Bashlibel in the Kalbajar district, three in Edilli village in the Khojavand district, one in Farrukh village in the Khojaly district, two in Dashalti village in the Shusha district, one in Shusha city, and another in the village of Sarijali in the Aghdam district. Several more mass graves have been identified, with research efforts initiated in these directions.
The act of systematically killing and burying individuals in inhumane conditions, while obliterating their traces, signifies a disregard for all values of humanity and stands as a testament to brutality beyond measure.
The challenge of missing persons is a global issue. It is a concern that resonates on a universal scale, affecting various regions and countries across the world. The phenomenon of individuals going missing due to armed conflicts, and or other circumstances, underscores the shared responsibility of nations and international organizations to address this pressing concern. Efforts to address the missing persons problem encompass collaboration, legal frameworks, and humanitarian initiatives that aim to locate and identify missing individuals, provide support to their families, and uphold the principles of human rights and dignity.
We urge Armenia to furnish the geographical coordinates of the mass graves where the 4,000 Azerbaijanis were buried, who suffered torture, inhumane treatment, and death at Armenian torture camps during the First Karabakh War.
We urge ICRC to ramp up efforts to clarify the fate and whereabouts of missing Azerbaijanis and to enter into dialogue with Armenia to this end.
We call upon the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) to pay more attention to identify the missing Azerbaijanis during the 1st and 2nd Karabakh wars and to obtain information on their fate.
We call the international organizations to urge Armenia to reveal the information on the missing persons urgently, submit the locations of the mass graves. We appeal especially to UN, to establish a UN Special Rapporteur on missing persons to contribute to address this global issue and challenges on the unaccounted-for status persons.”
1. Ajša Hafizović Hadžimešić, Assembly of Assotiation Mother of Srebrenica and Zepa Enclaves, Boosnia and Herzegovina;
2. Patsi Stillo, Partners in Health, United States;
3. Eliud Emeri, Consortium of Grassroots Organizations in Kenya, Kenya;
4. Adv Muhammad Bux, Sukaar Welfare Organization, Pakistan;
5. Peter Owiti, Wote Youth Development Projects CBO, Kenya;
6. Risikat Abimbola Akewula, Nigeria Environmental Society, Nigeria;
7. Mohmad Husain Lone, International Human Rights Commission, India;
8. Lindokuhle Sibiya, Youth and Women for Change, Eswatini;
9. Ridhiwani Sadiki, Citizen Network for Development Kenya, Kenya;
10. Gauthier Kasongo Ilunga, Biso People, République Démocratique du Congo.