After Artsakh: Revisiting the 2020 Artsakh War

The deadly conflict rages on, months after the 2020 ceasefire.


By Talar Sarmazian | Canada

 

Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

 

On November 9th, 2020, the Second Artsakh War ended with the agreement of a

ceasefire. The Second Artsakh War is also called the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War, but I will refer to Nagorno-Karabakh as Artsakh, as that is the land’s Armenian name. While a

ceasefire was reached, the war never really ended. Day after day, there is news of a new way

the Azerbaijani government had broken the ceasefire, harmed Armenians, or damaged

Armenian land.


Here are some quotes from officials in Azerbaijan to give some background to the anti-

Armenian sentiment and Armenophobia discussed in this paper:


“Our sons [stationed] in Armenia will set the nuclear plant in Armenia to explode so that no Armenian is left in that territory,” said the New Musavat Party leader, Hafiz Hajiyev.


“Armenians are my eternal enemies. Wherever I see an Armenian, I will cut their tongues and publicly denounce them. Even if I am torn apart, I will always abhor them [...]. If the war breaks out again, I will not spare even children,” said the founder and editor-in-chief of an Azerbaijani newspaper, Habil Aliyev.


Azerbaijani journalist Farid Teymurhanlu said that, “The definition, the concept of the word ‘Armenian’ is clear for everyone, except the Armenians themselves, of course. It is vileness, cowardice, and betrayal. Probably, when God was creating them, he was not in the mood and endowed them with the lowest human qualities.”


Azerbaijani officials’ hatred for Armenians comes from years of being taught that Armenians are the enemies from their youngest days in schools. After the war, the Azerbaijani government publicly displayed their hatred for Armenians. In Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, President Aliyev and his government opened a “Military Trophy Park.” The park has hundreds of helmets of dead Armenian soldiers on display. There are wax figurines on display, mocking Armenians with stereotypically-big hooked noses and distorted faces with cartoonishly sick or dying features. The creators of the mannequins said they tried their best to create the most freakish depictions of Armenians. There are images of families lining up to visit the park as if it is an amusement park and pictures of children pretending to strangle the Armenian figurines and using fake guns to shoot them. This military park is full of state-sponsored Armenophobia and perpetuates and teaches Azerbaijan and even their children that the anti-Armenian sentiment is supported and encouraged.


The pain and loss of the Armenian people have been put on display as a mockery.


At the end of the war, the Azerbaijani government gained control of certain parts of

Artsakh. The Azerbaijani military and government have begun the destruction of Armenian

history, culture, and religion, stripping away the Armenian aspects of these lands. The

Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Shushi, also called the Holy Saviour Cathedral, was destroyed.

The Azerbaijani military bombed the church during the war but now has removed the church’s dome and destroyed the angel statues near the church. There are multiple videos on the internet of Azerbaijani soldiers desecrating many different cemeteries, churches and statues. The 200-year-old Kanach Zham church has been ruined. The St. Mariam Astvatsatsin church in Mekhakavan has been completely destroyed and no longer exists, and a cemetery from the village of Hadrut has been vandalized and ruined. Additionally, gravestones have been taken from graveyards and used as concrete for the building of new roads. The Azerbaijani military, government, and others who attack these cultural or religious sites refuse to let Armenians even rest in peace as they ruin their cemeteries and gravesites.


Another example of Armenophobia in the Azerbaijani government is the empty plane

that Armenian received on April 9th, 2021. The Azerbaijani government said that that they were going to be sending prisoners of war back home. Families and relatives all gathered at the Erebuni military airport, waiting for the arrival of their loved ones, only to find that the plane was empty. Azerbaijan sent an empty plane to Armenia, tricking the Armenian people into thinking they would be returning their family members. It is difficult to imagine how painful and heartbreaking it must have been for these families to believe their loved ones were coming home to safety and that they were to be reunited after months apart, only for the plane to be empty.


The Azerbaijani military and soldiers have continued to find ways to target Armenians. In

the village of Karin Tak, Azerbaijani soldiers tortured a disabled woman. Alvard Tovmasyan, a 58-year-old disabled woman who was tortured beyond recognition, had her hand, foot and ear were cut off by soldiers. On June 5th, 2021, Azerbaijani soldiers shot at a shepherd, stole eighty cattle, murdered some sheep and injured the shepherd’s horse. The idea that a harmless shepherd taking care of his sheep needs to be shot at is baffling.


Most recently, the Azerbaijani military illegally entered Armenia through the province of

Syunik, threatening the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia. The military took over a portion of Lake Sev, the main water source of the villagers of Gegharkunik. They shot at soldiers in Gegharkunik, wounding two, shot at civilians in the village of Sos, wounding one, and kidnapped six Armenian soldiers. The Azerbaijani government claimed the 2020 Artsakh war to take back their lands, but this is not true. The basis of these attacks and the fight for Artsakh comes from the Armenophobia and anti-Armenian sentiment ingrained in the Azerbaijani government.


The worst of the aftermath of the Artsakh war comes with the detainment of over 200

prisoners of war. The ceasefire agreement signed on November 9th states that all prisoners of war were to be peacefully handed over. However, six months after the ceasefire agreement was signed, Azerbaijan still holds over 200 Armenians as prisoners of war and captured six more on May 27th, six months after the war ended. These prisoners of war include soldiers and civilians and women and men of all ages. Not only have these Armenian men and women been imprisoned for over 204 days, but they are being kept in inhumane conditions, subject to different tortures and abuses. The prisoners of war have been beaten repeatedly, prodded with metal rods, burnt by lighters, subjected to electric shocks, given no food and very little water. Not only are over 200 people kept in inhumane conditions, but the Azerbaijani government has killed at least 19 Armenian prisoners of war. These murders and tortures break the ceasefire agreement, but they are also war crimes under the Geneva Convention, Article 2.a.v and 2.a.vi.


Twelve of the prisoners who were killed were civilians, and seven were soldiers. In

honour of their memories, these are their names:


Eduard Shahgeldyan, Arsen Gharakhanyan, Benik Hakobyan, Elena Hakobyan, Serzhik Vardanyan, Ella Vardanyan, Genadi Petrosyan, Yurik Asryan, Misha Movsisyan, Anahit Movsisyan, Nina Davtyan, Misha Melkumyan, Erik Mkhitaryan, Gagik Mkrtchyan, Arayik Poghosyan, Vardges Ghazaryan, Yuri Adamyan, Artur Manvelyan, and Narek Babayan.


One 19-year-old prisoner explained how when he was kept in Military Police Custody,

they were not given any food or water, no treatment for their injuries from war, and were

regularly punched, kicked, and beaten with wooden rods by officers. Another 19-year-old

prisoner lost the use of his arm for a few days because of the severe beatings, and officers

broke two of his ribs from beatings. A 20-year-old prisoner explained how as soon as he and eight others were captured, the Azerbaijani soldiers immediately beat them up and continued to do so for around three hours. The human rights abuses that the Azerbaijani government has been committing for the last six months have no end in sight.


The international community has been ignorant of the tortures that the Azerbaijani

government inflicts on Armenian prisoners of war. The ignorance of the international community shows how little they care for Armenian lives and shows President Aliyev that he can cause any amount of pain he wants, and there will be no consequences. That should be terrifying for everybody. Allowing a dictator like President Aliyev to get away with war crimes and human rights abuses puts democracies in danger as well, not just the people of Armenia. It is crucial to pay attention to these abuses and war crimes committed by the Azerbaijani government. Stay informed, share with others, look for petitions, call attention to the different ways Azerbaijan attacks Armenia and tortures Armenian citizens. The lives of over 200 Armenians prisoners of war depend on it, and so does the safety of Armenia as a whole.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this entry are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of The Zeitgeist. Assumptions made in the analysis are not reflective of the position of any entity other than the author(s). The Zeitgeist does not verify the accuracy of any of the information contained in the entry. The Zeitgeist is not to be held responsible for misuse, reuse, recycled and cited and/or uncited copies of content within this entry.


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