Human Rights Defender of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) Gegham Stepanyan has sent a letter to Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic. The letter particularly states the following:
“As Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Artsakh, I officially express my willingness to cooperate for human rights protection, which is even more important for our country today, taking into consideration the volume and complexity of the humanitarian issues facing the Republic of Artsakh and its people as a result of the Azerbaijani-Turkish aggression.
During the war that Azerbaijan unleashed in the fall of 2020, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces committed gross violations of international humanitarian law, and this caused a difficult humanitarian situation in Artsakh. The Armed Forces of Azerbaijan deliberately and indiscriminately targeted civilians, children, the elderly, journalists and Armenian cultural heritage. They killed captured Armenian servicemen and civilians, as well as distorted and tortured their bodies. Today, as a result of the war, despite the calls of several international human rights organizations, more than 200 prisoners of war are detained in unknown conditions in Azerbaijan, nearly 40,000 people have been displaced, and several Armenian cultural monuments are being vandalized and destroyed to this day.
From the very first day of the war, the Ombudsman launched a fact-finding mission to explore and record the violations and war crimes that Azerbaijan committed during and after the war. The findings of the fact-finding mission have been presented (according to topics) in more than a dozen special reports prepared by the Human Rights Defender of Artsakh.
I would like to state that the fact-finding efforts for assessment of the post-war humanitarian situation continue, and it is very important to assess the presence of international partners, parliamentary bodies and human rights organizations on the spot.
On my behalf, once again, I would like to express my willingness and call for reciprocal efforts to protect the rights of the people of Artsakh since protection of human rights in all corners of the globe is part of the commitments of the international community, regardless of international status of the territory, and this includes Artsakh.”