Azerbaijan’s civil society representatives address open letter to ICRC
Azerbaijani civil society representatives addressed an Open Letter to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
News.az presents the letter: "To the Honorable President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Ms. Mirjana Spoljarich Egger,
Respectfully, we, the representatives of Azerbaijani civil society, extend our deep concerns regarding the activities of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Azerbaijan.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has been operating in Azerbaijan for more than 30 years. We consider the mandate and mission of this organization very important. Regrettably, we find ourselves compelled to acknowledge that, despite the enduring severity of Armenia's aggression against Azerbaijan that resulted in the unaccounted-for status of nearly 4,000 Azerbaijanis, the International Committee of the Red Cross has not demonstrated discernible success throughout this extended duration. Numerous families still wait with immense hope.
In the 1990s, the International Committee of the Red Cross tracked down 54 Azerbaijani captives, and as a result of the dialogue with the Armenian side, took the 17 dead bodies and handed them over to the Azerbaijani side. However, the fate of 37 people on that list is still unknown. The Questions persist: Did they survive or were they killed? If they were killed, why were their dead bodies not handed over to their families? Why is the International Committee of the Red Cross not engaged in dealing with this issue? After all, the correspondence between Azerbaijan and the International Committee of the Red Cross confirming that those 54 people are in captivity is still kept.
The International Committee of the Red Cross considers itself an independent, neutral, and impartial organization. However, the violation of these basic principles in relation to Azerbaijan is not understandable.
In the 2000s, the International Committee of the Red Cross established an office in Khankendi, its sovereign territory, without consulting the Azerbaijani government, and signed an "agreement" with the so-called authorities. Despite the repeated official appeals by the Azerbaijani side, that "agreement" was hidden under the name of confidentiality and was not presented. Later it turned out that the Khankendi office of the International Committee of the Red Cross was subordinated to the organization's representative office in Iravan, not Baku.
We – the representatives of the Azerbaijani civil society, take this behavior of the International Committee of the Red Cross, which should always remain independent and neutral, as its bias.
It is unacceptable that this situation remains unchanged even after the 44-day war in 2020. We consider the subordination of the Khankendi office to the representative office in Baku to be a completely right and legitimate demand, as the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev voiced in an interview with "Euronews" TV channel in Shusha these days.
We also support the views expressed in the Open Letter of Meshali genocide victims to the international community regarding Vagif Khachaturyan, one of the war criminals who committed the Meshali genocide in 1991, who was found in the car of the International Committee of the Red Cross at Lachin post (https://azertag.az/xeber/Meseli_soyqiriminin_qurbanlari_beynelxalq_ictimaiyyete_achiq_mektubla_muraciet_edibler_VIDEO-2715718). We agree with the residents of Meshali that the flag and cars of the International Committee of the Red Cross should not be a place of refuge for war criminals. This cannot give them any legal immunity. International humanitarian law is also against it.
We are horrified by the fact that cargo and ambulances under the emblem of the International Committee of the Red Cross were found to be smuggled in gasoline, cigarettes, and mobile phone boxes during the inspection at the Lachin post.
We also call on the International Committee of the Red Cross not to become tongs of Armenia's manipulation and not to make unfair statements. Since Karabakh is the territory of Azerbaijan, your representative office in Baku can deliver humanitarian goods via the Aghdam-Khankendi road. The road from Agdam to Khankendi is shorter than from Iravan. This can also allow significant savings in transportation costs.
We expect the International Committee of the Red Cross to completely subordinate the Khankendi office to the Baku representative office. The International Committee of the Red Cross should establish its operation in accordance with the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan. We also expect you to strengthen the dialogue with the Armenian side on the issue of missing people.
We believe that the International Committee of the Red Cross will take into account our public concerns as soon as possible, put the issues on the agenda at its headquarters in Geneva, make constructive decisions and necessary adjustments in its activities related to Azerbaijan".
- Konul Behbudova, Chairperson of "Karabakh Missing Families" Public Union
- Khatira Valiyeva, Chairperson of "Khankendi" Support Public Union for Forced IDPs
- Sevinj Alizadeh, Chairperson of "Zafar" Martyrs' Families Support Public Union
- Azer Allahverenov, Chairman of Eurasian Migration Initiatives Platform Public Union
- Zaur İbrahimli, Chairman of "Prioritet" Socioeconomic Research Center Public Union
- Parvana Valiyeva, Executive Director of "Support to Health" Public Union
- Bahruz Mammadzade, Chairman of the "Veterans, Martyrs' Families and Veterans of Special Forces" Public Union
- Naila Ismayilova, Chairperson of "Yeni Hayat" Humanitarian and Social Support Public Union
- Sariya Jafarova, Chairperson of "Promoting Armenian Aggression" Public Union
- Samad Vakilov, Chairman of the "Commissioner's Law Center" Public Union
- Hafiz Safikhanov, Chairman of "Azerbaijan Campaign Against Landmines" Public Union
- Telman Gasimov, Chairman of "Scientific Research" Public Union
- Ramil Iskandarli, Chairman of "Legal Analysis and Research" Public Union
- Elchin Mirzabayli, Chairman of the "Baku Speech School" Public Union
- Khalid Kazimov, Chairman of the Regional Human Rights and Media Center Public Union
- Ahmad Abbasbeyli, Chairman of the "Center for Community Development" Public Union
- Agil Jamal, Chairman of "Common Values" Public Union
- Irada Rzazadeh, Chairperson of the "For the Social Welfare of Citizens" Public Union
- Rauf Zeyni, Chairman of Azerbaijan National Non-Governmental Organizations Forum
- Vugar Gadirov, Chairman of the "Youth Organization for Return and Revival" Public Union