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Azerbaijan has done nothing to ensure the safe return of Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians, as called for by the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its decision of November 17, 2023. Yeghishe Kirakosyan, representative of Armenia for international legal affairs, announced this at Tuesday’s verbal hearing on the Armenia vs. Azerbaijan lawsuit at the ICJ.

On September 16, 2021, Armenia launched this proceeding against Azerbaijan because the latter is implementing a flagrant policy of racial discrimination against Armenians by nationality. The government of Azerbaijan has inculcated a policy of racial discrimination against Armenians for decades. Children of Azerbaijan are taught to hate and kill Armenians, the Azerbaijani state media spread hate speech, state officials disarm Armenians by nationality and call for the complete extermination of Armenians. It is widespread state-sanctioned racism, Kirakosyan noted in particular.

According to him, this long-term Azerbaijani state policy of racial discrimination against Armenians reached its peak in September 2020, when Azerbaijan unleashed a war of aggression against the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians. The goal was to eliminate and expel ethnic Armenians from their homeland. As Azerbaijani president Aliyev later revealed, hatred of the enemy was what drove them forward. For 44 days, Azerbaijani soldiers killed, tortured, and abused ethnic Armenians, and were filmed proudly committing unspeakable acts of violence against ethnic Armenian civilians and Armenian prisoners of war, while shouting racial slurs. This violence and intimidation was used by Azerbaijan to commit ethnic cleansing by expelling at least 30,000 Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh, President Aliyev declared victory by declaring that no Armenian songs would ever be sung in these areas, after these shocking atrocities, which were the culmination of decades of racial discrimination against ethnic Armenians. Armenia demanded a response under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and, importantly, Armenia requested that the ICJ urgently protect those vulnerable ethnic Armenians who had not yet been killed and expelled from their homeland at that time.

Kirakosyan emphasized that even the ICJ could not stop Azerbaijan's racist campaign, in the framework of which ethnic cleansing of Armenians was carried out. In September 2023, after starving the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh for nine months, by blocking the Lachin corridor, and flagrantly violating the ICJ's two preliminary measures, Azerbaijan launched a provoked attack, forcing hundreds of thousands of Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians to leave their homeland. To date, there are 200 missing Armenian persons and their families suffer, not knowing their fate, Yeghishe Kirakosyan said.

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