Armenia decries Azerbaijan 'ethnic cleansing' in Nagorno-Karabakh

AFP , Thursday 21 Sep 2023

Armenia warned the United Nations Thursday that Azerbaijan was carrying out "ethnic cleansing" and committing a "crime against humanity" as it regained control of the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Armenian ambassador
Armenia s UN Ambassador Andranik Hovhannisyan at the presentation of UNCTAD s investment policy review for Armenia, November 2019. Photo courtesy UNCTAD


Speaking before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Armenian ambassador Andranik Hovhannisyan recalled that his country had previously warned of "looming ethnic cleansing" in Nagorno-Karabakh, stressing "now it is in progress".

"Civilians in Nagorno-Karabakh are trapped and they do not have a way to evacuate since Azerbaijan continues to block the only lifeline connecting with Armenia," he said.

"This is not a mere conflict situation, this is a crime against humanity and should be treated as such."

His comments came as Armenian separatists from the disputed territory joined peace talks with Azerbaijan on Thursday, after agreeing to lay down their arms following a lightning Azerbaijani military operation.

Baku says it has regained control over the territory for the first time in decades, with separatists agreeing to disarm in the face of clashes that they said killed 200 people.

Also addressing the Human Rights Council, Azerbaijan representative Dilara Abdullayeva stressed that her country had been "forced to take the local counterterrorism measures," insisting that it had "targeted exclusively illegal military formations and fortifications".

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought two wars over the region.

The years of conflict have been marked by abuses on both sides, and there are concerns of a fresh refugee crisis as Karabakh's Armenian population fears being forced out.

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