Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev stated during a meeting with the country’s wrestling team on March 17 that they did not fight against the civilian population during the second Karabakh war.
In particular, Aliyev noted that they fought with dignity in the war and followed all its rules.
“We did not fight against the civilian population, we did not bomb the buildings, we did not committed atrocities. But there was always a sense of revenge in the hearts of our people,” he said.
We did not fight against the civilian population, we did not bomb buildings, and we did not commit atrocities. pic.twitter.com/DDbzmVtv83
— Ilham Aliyev (@presidentaz) March 17, 2022
This is not the first time Aliyev has made such a claim. The facts gathered by Fact Investigation Platform team during the war, the reports of international human rights organizations, have repeatedly proved that the statement of the Azerbaijani leader is false and manipulative. The Azerbaijani army used violence in Artsakh targeting the civilian population.
Both during the April war in 2016, and the 44-day war in 2020, the civilian population of Artsakh suffered casualties on the very first day. 9-year-old Victoria Gevorgyan and 59-year-old Ellada Balayan were killed by shell fragments in Martuni on September 27, 2020.
According to the report of the Artsakh Human Rights Defender, 80 civilians were killed by the Azerbaijani armed forces during the hostilities, including 42 by targeted strikes and 38 in captivity, of which 12 were women and 68 were men. 163 civilians were injured.
Open source information and videos prove that many captive civilians were tortured and eventually killed by Azerbaijani soldiers.
“Hetq” presented in a special series the stories of the killed Armenian civilians in Azerbaijan’s captivity and the circumstances of their death.
Thus, 80-year-old resident of Azokh village of Hadrut region Yuri Asriyan was beheaded by the Azeris who had occupied the village, and the video was posted on one of the telegram channels. Genadi Petrosyan, 69, a resident of Madatashen village, was also beheaded. Alvard Tovmasyan, 58, a resident of Karintak village, 2nd degree of disability, was killed by Azeris after occupying the village. The body was found after the war: it was dismembered, the arm, the ear, the leg were cut off.
In a report released in 2022, the human rights defenders of Human Rights Watch state that during the 44-day war, as in other conflicts, the elderly were the most vulnerable group to hostilities.
“Those remaining toward the end of the war, with few exceptions, were older people. An older woman and her husband, Arega and Eduard, both in their 70s, remained in their village to protect their property. In October, Azerbaijani soldiers found the couple at home and aggressively detained them, holding them initially in abandoned houses without food and water, then taking them to a detention facility in Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku. Azeries denied Arega’s medication for her high blood pressure. Eduard died in detention. When Arega viewed his body shortly after his death, she described his face as black and blue.”- reads the HRW report.
The shelled buildings
During the 44-day war, the Azerbaijani army targeted the civilian infrastructure of major cities of the Artsakh Republic (Stepanakert, Shushi, Martuni, Martakert, Hadrut) with prohibited weapons.
In one of the publications made during the war, we addresses the recorded cases.
The use of prohibited weapons by Azerbaijan was also reported by the international human rights organization Human Rights Watch.
For example, this photo clearly shows how one of the residential buildings in Stepanakert was shelled. Fortunately, the projectile that appeared on the balcony did not explode.
In this photo, one of the department stores in Stepanakert came under shelling, as a result of which a fire broke out.
The shelling by Azerbaijan was also recorded by a car camera parked in one of the residential districts of Stepanakert.
The journalists of Fip.am visited the place of the shelling, which, as evident in the photos taken by the camera of the car and our group, is in the residential part of the city, near the main post office of Artsakh.
During the war, journalists from the Fact Investigation Platform were able to obtain evidence of the use of missiles with cluster warheads of Israeli LAR-160 MLRS artillery rockets in the town of Hadrut. The use of such weapons is prohibited by the Convention on Cluster Munitions (2008), also known as the Dublin Convention.
As a result of the shelling of the town of Martuni, 4 civilians were killed and 11 were injured. Some of the journalists working on the ground were also injured. One of them was the correspondent of the French newspaper Le Monde, whose life was saved.
According to Human Rights Watch report 2021, the Azerbaijani armed forces carried out at least three illegal attacks on medical facilities.
Martakert Public Hospital and Military Hospital was shelled several times in 6 weeks. The strikes were often targeted and with prohibited weapons.
October 28, 2020, Stepanakert maternity hospital was also shelled the consequences of which were video recorded by the “Hetq” news team.
During and after the war, Azerbaijan also targeted Armenian cultural sites in Artsakh, including the Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Shushi, which was shelled during the first days of the war. Human Rights Watch called the action a “possible war crime.”
The Fact Investigation Platform has addressed the targeting of Armenian cultural heritage sites by Azerbaijan several times.
Thus, the statement of the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev that they did not fight against the civilian population, did not bomb the buildings during the war, is false.