January 23
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The illegal presence of the Azerbaijani military in the territory of the Sev (Black) Lake and within it grossly violates the rights of Armenia’s border residents and confirms the absolute need for a security zone. This is noted in a statement by the Human Rights Defender (Ombudsman) of the Republic of Armenia (RA), Arman Tatoyan, and which refers to the events that took place Wednesday in Syunik Province. The statement continues as follows:

“Since this morning, the Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia has received alarming complaints from the residents of the border villages of Goris, Sisian and Tegh communities of Syunik province that the Azerbaijani military appeared in the territory of the Republic of Armenia, more specifically in the territory of the Black lake and in parts located in the direction of the Syunik province civilian communities.

According to the alarms, the Azerbaijani military servicemen were noticed by a shepherd from Verishen village of Goris community from his place where small and large cattle are kept. It was mentioned in the alarms that the shepherd's place is located in the area of the pasture, which is constantly used by the residents, at a depth from the lake to Verishen civilian community, and the lake itself is located in the territory of the Republic of Armenia.

According to the alarms, the Azerbaijani military threatened the shepherd of Verishen by showing their weapons.

Besides, both border residents and community bodies have assured the RA Human Rights Defender that the Black lake has always been in the territory of Armenia with the pastures adjacent to it since the Soviet years. According to residents and community bodies, the Azerbaijani military even emerged from the Black lake a few kilometers in the direction of civilian communities and deployed in those areas.

Immediately after the alarms, the Defender's Office also conducted a study of media and social media posts. The heads of the communities of the RA Armed Forces were immediately contacted.

Today's research by the Human Rights Defender confirms that the areas adjacent to Black lake are of irreplaceable importance for the vital needs of the residents of the border areas. These areas are used as pastures, as are the drinking water and irrigation resources of the surrounding communities. The water is also used for small and large cattle in the communities. Pastures are also used for livestock, which serves as a source of income for the people; Tegh, Sisian, Goris communities, Khnatsagh, Vaghatur, Khoznavar, Verishen and other villages of those communities.

The RA Human Rights Defender resolutely states that these actions of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces grossly violate rights of Armenia’s border residents, with the aim of intimidating them. The presence of the Azerbaijani military servicemen deprives Armenian citizens of the opportunity to raise livestock and use pastures, the only source of income for their families, and poses a real threat to the access of irrigation and drinking water to the communities, their lives and safety.

In addition, according to confirmation, the Azerbaijani military is stationed in the area from the Black lake to civilian communities.

The actions described by the Azerbaijani military are an obvious provocations to the population of Armenia. Due to their illegal actions, great tension has arisen in the Armenian society throughout the day, people's mental immunity and peace have been disturbed.

The Human Rights Defender states that this illegal advance should be considered in the context of incidents on the road between communities of Syunik province, throwing stones at an Armenian civilian car by Azerbaijani armed servicemen, dragging and beating an Armenian shepherd near the village of Aravus, not returning small and large cattle, etc.; these actions should also be viewed in the context of the ongoing policy of hatred and Armenophobia by the Azerbaijani authorities. It undermines the peace process in the region.

The RA Human Rights Defender will send this statement to the international bodies, stating that the described incident once again confirms that a security zone must be established around the Syunik province as a matter of urgency.

The Azerbaijani armed servicemen, their flags and signs should be removed near the villages of the RA Syunik region and on the roads connecting the communities of the province.

The security zone is an absolute necessity to guarantee rights and peaceful life of border residents of the Republic of Armenia, their physical and mental immunity.”

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