Western Azerbaijan Community sends letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
The Western Azerbaijan Community sent a letter to the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken requesting the support of the United States in enabling the peaceful, safe, and dignified return of Azerbaijanis expelled from Armenia, News.Az reports.
The letter states the following:
“Our organization, the Western Azerbaijan Community, was established in 1989 to protect the rights of Azerbaijanis expelled from Armenia.
The last wave of expulsion of Azerbaijanis from Armenia, where they had a significant presence as a compactly living indigenous population, started in 1987 and was completed in 1991. As a result of the unprecedented ethnic cleansing committed by Armenia against Azerbaijanis in that country, there is not a single Azerbaijani left in Armenia.
Armenia has systematically destroyed Azerbaijani cultural heritage in Armenia. The obliteration of cultural and religious sites, including mosques, graveyards, and other sacred places has not only caused immense pain and suffering to Azerbaijanis but also grossly violates international humanitarian and human rights law. Additionally, during the past three decades, Armenia has refused to allow Azerbaijanis to visit their cemeteries, cultural heritage, and sacred places, despite the fact that such visits are crucial for peace and reconciliation. This inhumane treatment of Azerbaijani cultural heritage and denial of access further exacerbates tensions in the region.
This injustice created a sense of impunity among the ruling circles of Armenia and encouraged them to make territorial claims, use force, and occupy internationally recognized territories of Azerbaijan, commit further massive ethnic cleansing, and other crimes against humanity.
We would like these wrongdoings and injustice by Armenia to be stopped and redressed. Based on the right to return enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and other important international acts, the Community aspires to ensure the return of Azerbaijanis expelled from Armenia to their homes in safety and dignity and realization of their individual and collective rights after the return.
We have developed and published our concept for a peaceful, safe and dignified return, which was circulated as official documents of the UN Security Council, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council.
The end of the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2020 creates a favorable basis for achieving lasting peace between the two countries. However, the inability of Azerbaijanis expelled from Armenia to return to their homes, the continuation of the policy of mono-ethnic statehood, ethnic cleansing, and racial discrimination in Armenia represent an immense injustice. This situation does not help endeavors to attain lasting peace.
While we appreciate the ongoing efforts of Armenia and Azerbaijan to normalize their inter-State relations and commend the US efforts to facilitate this process, we strongly believe that addressing the right to return of Azerbaijanis in the agreement to be concluded between the two countries is essential for making the peace between the two countries durable. We would like, however, to make it clear that enabling our right to return is necessary for the success of the ongoing negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, not the other way around. The right to live in one's homeland is inherent and inalienable, and Armenia has the obligation to respect this right regardless of nature of its relations with Azerbaijan or the pace of the negotiations. Just because Armenia has political disagreements with Azerbaijan does not give it the right to expel ethnic Azerbaijanis and prevent their return.
It would be immensely unjust and wrong to make the return of Azerbaijanis subject to the consideration of Armenia. This would be in contravention of the very idea of the supremacy of human rights, and tacitly acquiesce the racial discrimination by Armenia.
Therefore, we kindly request the United States to firmly and consistently uphold our human rights by facilitating a peaceful, dignified, and safe return of Azerbaijanis expelled from Armenia to their homeland through the launching of appropriate political and security initiatives and socio-economic assistance programs.
Lastly, we would like to reiterate that our lawful demand from Armenia to respect our right to a safe and dignified return may not be misinterpreted as detrimental to the territorial integrity or sovereignty of Armenia. We firmly believe in supremacy of the international law and the value of dialogue. This clear stance of ours deserves to be applauded, especially given the broader context in our region, which is plagued by aggressive separatism and forceful acquisition of territories under the pretext of minority rights.
In this regard, we would like to refer to the positive approach of the Government of Azerbaijan, which pledged and took actionable measures to ensure the rights of and reintegrate Armenian inhabitants of the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan within its territorial integrity and sovereignty. We believe this should encourage the Government of Armenia to uphold its obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law to guarantee our rights.
We are confident that the impartial and comprehensive efforts of the United States will facilitate respect for the rights of Azerbaijani expellees from Armenia to return to their homes, thereby upholding the universal value of human rights and attaining lasting peace.
We stand ready to dialogue and cooperate with the relevant structures of the United States on issues relating to the facilitation of the peaceful, safe, and dignified return of Azerbaijanis expelled from Armenia to their homeland.”