Le Lézard
Classified in: Business
Subjects: EGV, FOR, AVO

The International Criminal Court Could Investigate President Aliyev for Genocide Against the Armenians


THE HAGUE, Netherlands, April 18, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- The Center for Truth and Justice (CFTJ) is petitioning the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open a preliminary examination into the ongoing genocide being perpetrated by Azerbaijan's armed forces against ethnic Armenians in Armenian territory under the unlawful occupation of Azerbaijan since May 12, 2021. The submission includes access to testimonial evidence gathered and recorded by the CFTJ that corroborates the alleged policy of genocide being planned, instigated, and implemented by President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, including their Parliament. 

The petition outlines a vast array of atrocities carried out by the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan under the leadership of President Aliyev: forcible displacement of at least 7000 civilians, murder of civilians, enforced disappearance of at least 2000 civilians and prisoners of war (PoWs), arbitrary detention, sexual violence, at least 350 documented cases of torture and extrajudicial executions of ethnic Armenian PoWs.

The petition by the US-based NGO, which is dedicated to documenting war crimes in the South Caucasus, asks the ICC for a preliminary examination to evaluate whether there is a reasonable basis for a formal investigation of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and others accused of planning, inciting, ordering, and executing a state policy of genocide against Armenians.

This is the first case of any entity lodging a case at the ICC for genocide of Armenians, and it comes days before the April 24 annual commemoration of the World War I-era genocide in which Ottomans killed 1.5 million Armenians.

"This is an emotionally heavy moment, as we never considered that a second genocide against our people would occur within our lifetime," said Armenian-descended Gassia Apkarian, a Superior Court judge in Orange County and CFTJ advisor. "The ICC should send a clear message that there will be no impunity for such crimes and those responsible for genocide will be held accountable."

The filing details a deliberate Azerbaijani strategy to eradicate ethnic Armenians, both in attacks on sovereign Armenian territory and in actions against the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh (also known as Artsakh), which was blockaded by Azerbaijan from Dec. 2022 until an attack in Sept. 23 which caused the population of 150,000 to flee to Armenia. In all cases, Azerbaijan used advanced weaponry to target civilian populations.

That blockade was described as a genocide attempt in an  Aug. 2023 report by Luis Moreno Ocampo, the former ICC chief prosecutor ? a position since backed by the International Court of Justice in its preliminary orders, as well as other leading global experts and jurists. The resulting exodus last fall was one of the largest genocide in recent history.

"Sadly, the world community has largely ignored this war crime, a clear case of genocide under Article 2(c) of the Genocide Convention, so it is time for the international legal system to address this breakdown of the world order," Ocampo said of the filing.

Beyond Aliyev, the filing personally targets Azerbaijani Minister of Defense Zakir Hasanov and Chief of General Staff Karim Valiyev for their role in the alleged state policy of genocide ? including forcibly removing Armenians from occupied territories, systematically killing civilians and prisoners of war, and engaging in hate speech that dehumanizes Armenians.

Aliyev's public statements, glorifying the removal and destruction of Armenians, further demonstrate genocidal intent, the petition argues. Aliyev has openly referred to Armenians as "rats" and "dogs," as "devils" and "barbarians" and a "virus" ? and several years ago declared that they "have neither conscience nor morality. They do not even have a brain." Aliyev himself said as top officials in Baku celebrated the forced displacement of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh.

Moreover, since May 2021, Azerbaijan's armed forces have engaged in an unlawful military campaign aimed at annexing approximately 200 square kilometers of Armenian sovereign territory. In Armenia´s provinces of Gegarkunik, Syunik, Vayots Dzor, Tavoush and Ararat.

The dossier of evidence gathered by the CFTJ contains over 530 testimonies from representatives of victims and from witnesses detailing atrocities, war crimes, and genocide. There is evidence of widespread atrocities committed against ethnic Armenian women, including mutilation and sexual violence, as part of a systematic campaign to terrorize and subjugate in order to destroy the Armenian population. Over 1500 items of open-source evidence reflecting intention to commit genocide back the claim. The research and interviews were carried out by 121 trained lawyers and law students in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.

Present at the Hague will be Lala Abgaryan, whose sister Gayane was killed in 2022 by Azerbaijani soldiers, suffering extensive abuse and mutilations that were then recorded and glorified online. She took in the orphaned children and gave extensive testimony, and will be available to the media.

The CFTJ 's investigation reveals that stickers depicting tortured Armenian women were downloaded by approximately 20,000 Azerbaijani users within even a five-day period.

ABOUT THE CFTJ:

CFTJ is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, established in November 2020 in response to the Nagorno-Karabakh war. We are a group of lawyers overseeing the collection of firsthand testimonial evidence from war survivors via in-depth, recorded interviews. We run a law clinic in Yerevan, Armenia, which is the first of its kind. Through our clinic, we train law students and young lawyers to interview survivors of the war and record their testimonies. To date, we have conducted hundreds of interviews and trained over 100 current or future lawyers. By being a permanent home for the testimonials, CFTJ serves as a resource to academic and legal practitioners who seek to use the evidence for purposes of education and/or legal action.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Maggie Arutyunyan at 1(818)749-8185

SOURCE Center for Truth and Justice


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