Agenzia Nova: After 30 years of international inaction, it is time to clarify the fate of 3890 Azerbaijani missing persons

Baku, March 26, AZERTAC

Vatican’s Agenzia Nova portal has published an article by Azerbaijani Ambassador to the Holy See Rahman Mustafayev headlined “After 30 years of international inaction, it is time to clarify the fate of 3890 Azerbaijani missing persons”.

The article reads: “In light of new evidences acquired by the relevant authorities of the Republic of Azerbaijan it is important to draw attention once again to the issue of bringing clarity to the whereabouts of close to 4000 Azerbaijani missing persons.

As a result of search operations and investigative measures, new mass graves have been identified in the Edilli village of the Khojavand district of Azerbaijan and in the territory of the Fuzuli city on the basis of the testimonies by the eye-witnesses. The remains, which presumably belong to 6 or 7 Azerbaijanis missing since early 1990s, have been exhumed and collected by the investigation team for the purpose of subsequent medical examination and genetic tests.

The Azerbaijani civilians and servicemen who managed to survive Armenian captivity confirmed in their testimonies that bodies of dozens of Azerbaijanis had been transferred in military trucks and buried in mass graves in mentioned areas after being subjected to torture, degrading and other inhumane treatment, and subsequent arbitrary and extrajudicial killings.

On the basis of eye-witness testimonies and other investigative materials, the relevant authorities presume that the found remains represent only a small portion of those who had been buried in the said areas, and consequently search operations are currently underway to locate the other burial places.

Amidst such growing evidence, the perpetrators continue to enjoy impunity as Armenia has thus far failed to take any step towards the investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by its agents and subordinates. It is equally disturbing that despite consistent calls of Azerbaijan and series of discussions with the Armenian side, including at the highest level, this country tries to escape from cooperation in providing information about the locations of burial sites, mass graves or any similar information that would help bring clarity to the whereabouts of the Azerbaijani missing persons.

Given the extreme importance of addressing the issue of missing persons for the rule of law, justice, as well as post-conflict normalization and reconciliation, strong engagement of the international community is therefore vital.

Bringing clarity to the whereabouts of all missing persons and full accountability for grave international humanitarian law violations committed against them are essential elements of achieving lasting reconciliation after bloody conflict.

Ensuring justice is not only retributive, but also preventive, serving to the non-repetition of similar wrongdoings and helping both countries and their people live in peaceful and stable neighborhood. With the end of the conflict, it is high time for Armenia to honor its obligations under international humanitarian law and take practical steps to shed light on dark pages of its armed aggression against Azerbaijan and cooperate with a view eliminating its harsh consequences.

Proceeding from this understanding, Azerbaijan appeals once again to international community and international organizations with the request of urging Armenia to share all information at its disposal necessary for bringing clarity to the fates of thousands of persons missing since early 1990s and providing information about the locations of burial sites and mass graves. Consistent steps in this direction are not necessary in terms of the shared responsibility for rule of law and justice, but also for taking forward the agenda of post-conflict normalization in the region.”

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