Summery on the Process of Investigation of Cases on Ethnic Cleansing Committed in Nagorno Karabakh and War Crimes Committed during It
Investigation is conducted in the Department of Investigation of Particularly Important Cases of General Military Investigative Department of the RA Investigative Committee to find out circumstances of cases of illegal blockade of the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia – the Lachin Corridor and out of national, ethnic, racial, religious affiliation, creating living conditions aimed at complete or partial physical destruction of the civilian population of Nagorno Karabakh, kept under siege from December 12, 2022, as well as with the intent of partial and complete destruction of national, ethnic or religious group, creating living conditions aimed at killing the members of that group, causing heavy damage to their health, or severe mental impairment, or complete or partial physical destruction of that group, among them taking measures aimed at forced displacement, crimes against humanity, among them murder, annihilation within large-scale and regular attack directed at civilians, as well as abduction out of hatred, intolerance or hostility conditioned by racial, national, ethnic or social origin, political or other views, or personal or other social circumstances committed by the military-political leadership of the Republic of Azerbaijan against the population of Nagorno Karagakh on September 19, 2023.
Considering the complexity and volume of the criminal proceeding, in order to ensure the objectivity, completeness and comprehensiveness of the case, an investigative group was formed at the RA Investigative Committee.
Within the framework of the preliminary investigation factual data were obtained that the military-political leadership of the Republic of Azerbaijan, violating the requirement of the paragraph 6 of the tripartite statement published by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, the President of the Russian Federation and the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan on November 9, 2020, illegally blocked the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia - the Berdzor (Lachin) Corridor from December 12, 2022. The illegal blockade was from the start committed by fake environmental protesters. Then on April 23, 2023 Azerbaijanis illegally established the checkpoint on the Hakari Bridge in the Berdzor Corridor, this way clearly institutionalizing its criminal behavior. With the deliberate resort to provocation on the Hakari Bridge, on June 15, 2023 Azerbaijanis completely blocked all humanitarian passenger transportation and cargo transportation in both directions through the Corridor. As a result, the scheduled transfers of medical patients from Nagorno Karabakh to Armenia was disrupted for a long time and the departure of passengers on the Stepanakert-Goris-Stepanakert route due to urgent humanitarian needs, with the mediation of Russian peacekeepers and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), was cancelled, Azerbaijanis also prohibited the entry of any humanitarian cargo into Nagorno Karabakh. The supply of gas to Nagorno Karabakh was regularly disrupted from December 2022, completely cut off from March 2023, and electricity from January 2023. During that time, civilians living in Nagorno-Karabakh were abducted from the illegal checkpoint established on the Hakari Bridge.
Going on with the policy of ethnic cleansing and the actions aimed at it, on September 19, 2023 at about 13:00 the armed forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan, regarding the complete or partial physical destruction out of national, ethnic, racial, religious affiliation of the civilian population of Nagorno Karabakh, kept under siege from December 12, 2022, using mortar-rocket means, combat aviation, drones, using prohibited methods of waging war, not distinguishing civilians from servicemen, carried out a large-scale attack along the entire Karabakh-Azerbaijan contact line, targeted the civilian population of the peaceful settlements of Nagorno Karabakh with coordinated, deliberate and targeted attacks, particularly, making the civilian population and civilian objects in deep rear the targets of indiscriminate attack, shelled the towns of Stepanakert, Askeran, Martini, Martakert and their adjacent settlements causing human and property losses.
During the two-day military operations cases of war crimes of willfully causing brutal death to Armenian servicemen and civilians, using violence against them, subjecting them to torture, showing inhuman, degrading treatment towards them, as well as torturing and desecrating the bodies of servicemen and civilians were recorded.
Pursuant to factual data obtained in the course of preliminary investigation, as a result of military aggression over 200 servicemen and civilians were killed in Nagorno Karabakh. About 12 civilians and 30 servicemen are considered to be missing. There are cases of subjecting at least 14 persons to torture 12 of which were servicemen, 2 were civilians. As a result of the military actions 3 children were killed, 231 servicemen and 80 civilians received bodily injuries of various degrees.
As a result of planned and deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing against the population of Nagorno Karabakh, military actions committed on September 19-20, which is a part of it, nearly the whole population of Nagorno Karabakh, more than 100 thousand people, solely out of a need to survive physically, were forcibly displaced not having proper time and opportunity to take their property. Moreover, during the forced displacement and in the period immediately following it death of 64 civilians was recorded which was directly causally related to the deprivations suffered during the period of siege, ethnic cleansing and displacement, such as hunger, lack of medicine and medical assistance, etc.
The cases of abduction of civilians, among them the representatives of military-political leadership of Nagorno Karabakh, captivity of servicemen were also made the subject of investigation by the investigative body. At the current stage of investigation there are data on abduction of 16 persons, 6 servicemen and 10 civilians. The Republic of Azerbaijan has confirmed the fact that only 9 out of 16 people are under their control, appropriate actions are being taken regarding the others.
Within the framework of the proceeding large-scale investigative and procedural actions are conducted. In the course of preliminary investigation forensic genetic, forensic medical expertises were commissioned, the relatives of the killed persons, confirmed within the proceeding, were found the victim, the process of identifying the bodies is ongoing.
The RA Investigative Committee continues to collect data on forcibly displaced people and find the mentioned people the victim, as well as the fact-finding process regarding ethnic cleansing by Azerbaijan, war crimes committed during it.
In this context, the RA Investigative Committee again urges the people forcibly displaced from Nagorno Karabakh, persons who possess information on the above-mentioned criminal acts in any format, to provide the investigative body with it. Confidentiality of the received information is guaranteed.