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“Karabakh Missing Families” Public Union sends appeal to UN

“Karabakh Missing Families” Public Union sends appeal to UN

Baku, August 3, AZERTAC

The “Karabakh Missing Families” Public Union has sent an appeal to the United Nations (UN).

The appeal reads: “On behalf of the families of the missing, we, as a public organization of the family members of 3,890 Azerbaijanis who went missing as a result of Armenia's military aggression against Azerbaijan, are appealing to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, President of the UN General Assembly Csaba Kőrösi, President of the UN Human Rights Council Václav Bálek, and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk.

According to the requirements of international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, which are its main source, the right of the families of persons missing during armed conflicts to receive information is unequivocally recognized. Therefore, this is our right as human beings.

However, we have been denied the exercise of this right for more than 30 years. Armenia has been refusing to provide information about the missing Azerbaijanis, thus condemning us to infinite suffering. Mothers and fathers are leaving this world with a longing for their missing children, pressing their photos to their chests. Children know about their missing parents only from other people’s narratives. This is about a tragedy and horror thousands of families are faced with every day.

As a result of Armenia's military aggression against Azerbaijan in the 1990s, twenty percent of Azerbaijani territory was occupied, its cities and villages were vandalized and looted, people were killed, subjected to genocide and ethnic cleansing, about a million Azerbaijani citizens became refugees and internally displaced persons, 20,000 people lost their lives and 50,000 lost their health.

As a result of Armenia's military aggression against Azerbaijan, 3,890 people were registered as missing persons in the First Karabakh War. A total of 3,171 of them were military servicemen and 719 civilians. Among civilians, 71 were minors, 267 women and 326 elderly.

Of the total number of missing persons, 872, including 29 children, 98 women and 112 elderly, were taken prisoner or stayed in the occupied territories, as confirmed by witness statements. In a number of cases, people disappeared along with their family members and relatives, entire families and generations were exterminated. Our research confirms that two to seven members of 61 families went missing during the First Karabakh War and the fate of none of them is known to this day. This is extremely disrespectful not only to the families of the missing Azerbaijanis but also to all of humanity.

In September 2020, the Azerbaijani Army, which carried out a counter-offensive operation in the aftermath of yet another provocation of the Armenian armed forces, freed the homeland from occupiers and implemented the resolutions adopted by the UN in 1993. However, the excessive pollution of Azerbaijani territories by Armenia during the years of occupation does not allow the people expelled from there, including their missing families, to return to their homeland. In addition, Armenia does not provide Azerbaijan with accurate minefield maps or information about the mass graves of the missing. More than 300 Azerbaijani citizens have become victims of mine explosions in the last three years due to Armenia’s failure to disclose minefield maps.

The steps being taken by relevant public institutions of the Republic of Azerbaijan in recent years to clarify the fate of the missing, including taking biological samples of the families, DNA profiles, and excavations in the territories freed from occupation, have aroused a glimmer of hope in us. However, the discovery of nine mass graves in such a short period of time makes us extremely distraught.

One of the mass graves was discovered in the Bashlibel village of the Kalbajar district, three in the Edilli village of the Khojavand district, one in the Farrukh village of the Khojaly district, two in the Dashalti village of the Shusha district, one in the city of Shusha, and one in the Sarijali village of the Aghdam district. A few more mass graves have been traced, and research has been started in this direction.

Killing people en masse, burying them in an inhuman manner and losing their traces is a sign of utter disrespect for human values and decency.

We appeal to you to call on Armenia to reveal the information about the fate of the missing persons and disclose places of mass graves to the Azerbaijani side.

The problem of missing persons is global in nature and is relevant not only for Azerbaijan. In order to effectively deal with this issue, it is important that the UN also increases its efforts. Therefore, we urge you not to spare your contribution to the creation of an institution of the UN special rapporteur on missing persons.”

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