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07/26/2022 Azerbaijan (International Christian Concern) – This month, a report submitted to the United Nations by a nonprofit human rights organization indicted Azerbaijan for crimes against historically Christian Armenians. The report documented recent Azerbaijani violations of an international treaty against racial discrimination. The Center for Truth and Justice (CFTJ), which assembled and submitted the report, compiled the testimonies of returned Armenian prisoners of war, provocative comments by top Azerbaijani officials, accounts of forceable Armenian displacement, and other violations. Miriam Nazaretyan, a lawyer and board member for CFTJ, told CivilNet that the evidence demonstrates that Azerbaijan has continued “to treat Armenian detainees in the most depraved and inhuman ways, incite racial hatred against Armenians, and destroy, demolish, and vandalize Armenian cultural sites including churches and cemeteries.” These human rights abuses are direct breaches of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, a treaty to which Azerbaijan is a signatory. The UN committee in charge of overseeing the implementation of the treaty will review Azerbaijan’s compliance next month.

These ongoing concerns over human rights abuses come as Azerbaijan and Armenia approach the two-year anniversary of skirmishes that escalated into the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War, fought between the two beginning in September of that year. Unfortunately, in the post-war period, levels of animosity between the two sides have remained high, and human rights violations have continued. The International Court of Justice already explicitly mandated Azerbaijan’s compliance with international law in a December 2021 ruling, but no enforcement mechanism exists to ensure Azerbaijan commits to change. Despite the lack of practical international enforcement, CFTJ hopes that reports like the one it submitted this month will serve to establish an impactful public record of human rights abuses. Haig Ter-Ghevondian, head of CFTJ’s translation team, explained their goals to CivilNet, “It’s like throwing pebbles in a pond. It’s not noticeable at first, but at some point, you’re going to notice that there’s a mound in the middle of the lake, and that’s what this is about.” While change is slow in coming, the efforts of organizations like CFTJ are indeed critical to bringing ongoing violations of human rights to light.

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