Armenian Civilian Murdered in Front of Peacekeepers
Artsakh Citizen Killed by Azeri Sniper Fire While Gardening
10/12/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on October 9, Azeri snipers killed a 55-year-old Artsakh civilian while he was accompanied by Russian peacekeepers in the city of Martakert. According to reports, the civilian was reluctantly working in a pomegranate garden, but was afraid because of previous Azeri sniper fire which targeted him. His return to work was encouraged and he was accompanied by Russian peacekeepers. However, the sniper resumed his activities, fatally striking the civilian in the chest.
The Republic of Armenia’s Prosecutor’s Office said, “According to preliminary information, the driver initially avoided driving agricultural machinery, but one of the peacekeepers offered to sit with him in person in the cabin as an additional guarantee of safety. According to eyewitnesses, they made several turns in that way.”
They continued, “On the same day, a criminal case was initiated on the fact, according to Article 103, Part 2, Clause 14 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan (murder committed on the grounds of national, racial or religious hatred or religious fanaticism). An investigation is underway.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Artsakh said in a statement that they “strongly condemn(s) such aggressive behavior and provocative actions of Azerbaijan aimed at creating an atmosphere of fear among the peaceful population of the Republic of Artsakh and emigration of Armenians from the country.”
“This and all the previous incidents, which resulted in casualties among civilians or damage to their property, are manifestations of Azerbaijan’s coordinated anti-Armenian policy and another proof that the Azerbaijani authorities’ peaceful calls on the people of Artsakh and claims for peaceful coexistence are nothing but an attempt to mislead the civilized world and weaken the vigilance of the Armenian parties,” continued the statement.
A humanitarian report released by ICC in June 2021 warned, “International, third-party access is a crucial ongoing need, in large part because the conflict continues despite the November 9th ceasefire statement. International recognition of the religious freedom components of this war is an immediate necessity. Peacekeepers are not police. They inherently cannot and are not those responsible for responding to kidnappings, shootings into Artsakh from conquered territories, and other types of criminal activity. These activities remain ongoing. Artsakh’s residents remain under threat to their physical integrity, which has created an absence of safety and stabilization that ensures that the consequences of the war are ongoing.”
The sniper who murdered the civilian in the Martakert incident has been transferred to the Prosecutor’s Office of Russia. Reports of targeted and indiscriminate shootings by Azerbaijan from the conquered territories into Artsakh are a frequent occurrence.
Late September through early December marks the one-year anniversary period of the 2020 invasion of Azerbaijan into Artsakh, a majority Armenian Christian area. The invasion occurred with the support of Turkey and was conducted in a manner which mirrored the 1915 Turkish genocide against Armenian Christians (see ICC’s report: The Anatomy of Genocide: Karabakh’s Forty-Four Day War).
The ongoing threats, intimidation, and harassment of Artsakh’s citizens by Azerbaijan constitute serious religious freedom violations, as well as multiple human rights abuses.
Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said “Azerbaijan’s provocations against Artsakh’s Armenian Christian residents continue despite the ceasefire statement. The targeted murder of a citizen, who was in the presence of peacekeepers, shows just how emboldened Azerbaijan is that they can commit serious atrocities without any consequence. Azerbaijan has come to this position with Turkey’s support and encouragement. The combined pan-Turkic, Grey Wolf ideology driving Turkey and Azerbaijan’s activities towards Artsakh constitute serious religious violations and show a genocidal intent to eliminate its Armenian Christian presence.”