Ombudsmen of Armenia and Artsakh Kristine Grigoryan and Gegham Stepanyan issue statement on the occasion of the 34th anniversary of the Sumgait massacres. As reports Armenpress statement runs as follows:
“The February 20, 1998 decision of the Council of People’s Deputies of the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Oblast to combat through peaceful means for the right to life of the Armenians of Artsakh, and their right to live free in dignity and security in their own homeland, few days later found its response in the city of Sumgait, located in the distance of 27 kms from Baku. On February 27-29, at the direct provocation of the Azerbaijani authorities and organized by them, the Armenian population of the city was subjected to torture, mutilation, arson of people (both alive or after death), gang rape, while their property was destroyed and looted.
As a result of the massacres committed on the grounds of nationality the rights of the 20.000 Armenian residents of Sumgait, to life, to be free from torture and discrimination, to freedom and security, to private property, to fair trial, other rights were directly and irrevocably threatened.
Although the Sumgait massacres were documented by the relevant Soviet authorities, the perpetrators and the organizers of the crime have not been brought to justice.
The anti-Armenian massacres of Sumgait instigated a series of crimes against humanity committed by Azerbaijan- a practice which continues to this day. Within the context of this consistent policy during the period of 1988-1991, thousands of Armenians were killed, while another 500,000 thousand were forcibly displaced from the cities of Gandzak (Kirovabad), Baku, and other cities in Azerbaijan, as well as in the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Oblast.
Aiming to forcibly suppress the right to self-determination of the population of Artsakh, and to annihilate them, Azerbaijan launched a war against the Armenian population lasted 1991-1994, during which the vivid evidence of the genocidal actions of the Azerbaijani authorities is the massacre of the Armenian population in the village of Maragha in the region of Martakert in April 1992, as a result of which more than 50 peaceful civilians were killed and Armenians were completely annihilated from the village.
The Republic of Azerbaijan fully inherited, further improved the policy of Armenophobia of Soviet Azerbaijan, aimed at the forceful displacement of Armenians from Artsakh, and the annihilation of the Armenian people in its cradle. The practice of glorifying murders purely on ethnic grounds, which was instigated with the Sumgait massacres, became the signature of the Azerbaijani authorities. As a result, the region “was enriched” with “heroes” such as Ramil Safarov, Mubariz Ibrahimov, and others who were taking revenge against the civilian population during the April war of 2016 and were beheading and dismembering Armenian servicemen in the style of terrorist organizations, and as a result were encouraged at the highest levels of the Azerbaijani state.
The Armenophobia disseminated in the Azerbaijani society by their authorities over the years got its worst manifestation during the September 2020 war unleashed by Azerbaijani against Artsakh, during which the peaceful civilians, kindergartens, schools and hospitals became the primary targets of Azerbaijani army.
The war crimes committed by Azerbaijan during the 44-day aggression, the gross violations of international humanitarian law and human rights are documented in the reports of the Human Rights Defenders of Armenia and Artsakh, in the reports of several human rights organizations, and have been raised by the representatives of various international organizations.
Impunity breads and perpetrates new crimes based on ethnic hatred.
The Armenophobia of the Azerbaijani authorities does not bypass Armenian cultural and religious heritage: An attempt is made to apply the methodology of complete displacement of Armenians and the destruction of the medieval Armenian heritage of Nakhichevan in the regions of Artsakh that have fallen under Azerbaijani control. A working group has even been officially set up with the clear aim of destroying Armenian religious, historical and cultural monuments and falsifying their identities.
Armenophobia, the evidence of which is growing daily, is being implemented by the authorities of Baku as a method to form the collective identity of the Azerbaijani population. However, history has repeatedly demonstrated that an identity based on hatred on ethnic and national ground firstly destroys its bearers, it threatens the normal, peaceful and secure life of the people of the region and disrupts the development and progress of societies.
As a first step to quit this policy, we call on the Azerbaijani authorities to show political will, to assess with credibility the anti-Armenian massacres in Sumgait, Gandzak (Kirovabad), Baku, and other places, and to refrain from a policy of denial; to bring to justice those who committed violations during and after the 44-day war against the civilian population, and those who committed and organized the torture and mutilations of captured and killed Armenian servicemen, to release immediately the Armenian POWs and other captives still held in Azerbaijan, and to stop the acts of vandalism committed against the Armenian historical and cultural heritage of Artsakh.
We call on the international community to give a proper legal assessment of the violence committed in Sumgait in February 1988, based on fundamental principles of international law and international norms, as well as take effective measures to assess and stop the continued policy of Armenophobia in Azerbaijan.
We pay tribute to the memory of the innocent victims of the massacres of Sumgait and other settlements, and stress that impunity for commitment of human rights violations and crimes leads to new and more heinous crimes.”