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05/06/2021 Azerbaijan (International Christian Concern) –  According to lawyers at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), 19 Armenian prisoners of war were tortured and killed by Azerbaijani servicemen. Artak Zeynalyan and Siranush Sahakyan, who are representing all Armenian captives, accused Azerbaijan of war crimes and appealed to the ECHR. The list of 19 killed includes 12 civilians and seven servicemen.

Azerbaijan also continues to degrade Armenian heritage through the demolition of religious sites. Photos and videos confirm the vandalism against Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Shushi. Angels sitting atop pillars at the main entrance were destroyed and a fence running along the perimeter of the property has been taken down. Just a few days later, photos indicate that the domes had been removed from the church as well.

Satellite imagery also shows the destruction of an Armenian cemetery in Mets Tagher. The site was in use when Armenians evacuated in late 2020. In the same village, not too far away from the destroyed cemetery, sits Surb Amenaprkitch church. Nearby construction appears to be threatening the 175-year-old church as land next to it has been leveled and trucks remain parked in the clearing.

In one incident of justice, two Syrian mercenaries were given life sentences in Armenia for criminal charges including terrorism. The two men, Muhrab Muhammad Al-Shkheir and Yousef Alabed Alhajj, pleaded guilty to the charges that took place during the Nagorno-Karabakh war. According to the court, the Syrians underwent military training from June to September 2020 before being sent to fight. Investigators claim they were recruited by pro-Turkish militant groups to “terrorize civilians” and commit war crimes. In addition to a fixed salary of $2,000, recruiters also promised an additional $100 for every Armenian killed. Some sources report different numbers, but regardless the Turkish-hired mercenaries were given incentives to mutilate or kill Armenians. Both Azerbaijan and Turkey deny the presence of any foreign mercenaries and Azerbaijan responded to the confessions claiming fraud.

Armenians are a predominately Christian community who have suffered multiple genocides because of their combined ethnic-faith identity. The events in Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020 were reminiscent of the 1915 genocide which almost eliminated them from their native lands.

For interviews, please contact Addison Parker: [email protected].