May 25
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On March 8, 2024, President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan signed a decree appointing a judge and president for the city court in Stepanakert, the capital of the occupied Artsakh Republic. We believe that these appointments harbor far-reaching, sinister intentions aimed at initiating the illegal process of property confiscation and the prosecution of individuals. The Committee for the Defense of the Fundamental Rights of the People of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) noted this in a statement it issued Tuesday. The statement continues as follows:

“Any political appointment within any city or region of occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, particularly in the absence of a population forcibly expelled from their homes under the threat of ethnic cleansing and genocide, is both illegal and condemnable.

In addition, we denounce other political appointments made by Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh, which further illustrate a systematic disregard for the democratic will and rights of the indigenous Nagorno-Karabakh people. These actions by Azerbaijan not only contravene the principles of self-determination and democratic governance but also starkly illustrate the absence of genuine efforts to reflect the will of the Nagorno-Karabakh people in the region's political and administrative processes.

We are also deeply disappointed with the withdrawal of the Mission of the International Committee of the Red Cross from Nagorno-Karabakh. Without the ICRC, the only international presence on site, Azerbaijan’s hands will be completely free to do what it wishes to, something it was aiming at for a long time.

While the current situation in Nagorno-Karabakh does not favor a safe return, international law protects the right of forcibly displaced people to their territory of origin. This right is recognized as a customary norm of international law, human rights law, and international humanitarian law, and it is protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, and numerous other international conventions and declarations.

On November 17 of last year, the International Court of Justice ruled that Azerbaijan must ‘ensure’ that the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh are able to return in a ‘safe, unimpeded, and expeditious manner.’ This year on March 12, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling on Azerbaijan to ‘genuinely engage in comprehensive and transparent dialogue with the Karabakh Armenians to ensure respect for their rights and guarantee their security, including their right to return to and live in their homes in dignity and safety under international presence.’

We call upon Azerbaijan, instead of engaging in the illegal formalization of territories acquired through war and violence, to fulfill its international obligations by allowing the safe and unimpeded return of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh to their homes and historical homeland.”

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