No:346/20, Information of the Press Service Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan on the grave violations committed by Armenia against the children in Azerbaijan
It is almost three decades that hundred of thousands of children in the Republic of Azerbaijan suffer from the ongoing aggression of Armenia and its long lasting effects. During this period, Armenia ignoring moral imperatives and legal responsibilities, deprived the Azerbaijani children of their inherent rights defined in the international documents, as well as their right to be brought up in the spirit of the ideals proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, and in particular in the spirit of peace, dignity, equality and solidarity as described in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The protection guaranteed for children by the IV Geneva Convention relative to the protection of civilians and I Additional Protocol, in particular the right to life, prohibition of corporal punishment, torture, collective punishment and reprisals, and the rules defined in these documents on the conduct of hostilities, such as the necessity of distinction between civilians and combatants and prohibition of attacks against civilians have been constantly infringed by Armenia. Armenia has also clearly ignored its obligations deriving from the principle of special protection for children laid down in I Additional Protocol which provides that “children shall be the object of special respect and shall be protected against any form of indecent assault”.
Armenia has been using acts of genocide as a means to instill fear and to terrorize the entire population and force them to flee. Only in Khojaly massacre 613 civilians of whom 63 were children were brutally killed and many were maimed by the armed forces of Armenia in 1992.
1 million Azerbaijanis, one thirds of whom are children were forcefully expelled and driven away from their homes in contrary to Article 49 of IV Geneva Convention. For almost 15 years the larger part of the forcefully displaced children in Azerbaijan had to live in tent camps and villages consisting of luggage vans on railways which were subsequently abolished as a result of the tremendous efforts and budget resources allocated by the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The internally displaced children in Azerbaijan still cannot realize their right to voluntary return to their lands in safety and dignity despite the provisions of relevant documents, including the UN Security Council resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884 adopted in 1993.
In contrary to the Article 50 of the IV Geneva Convention which provides that the occupying power shall facilitate the proper working of all institutions devoted to the care and education of children, the ongoing armed aggression of Armenia against the Republic of Azerbaijan has inflicted serious damage upon the infrastructure for children in Azerbaijan. Armenia which presents itself as one of the “advocates” of the Safe Schools Declaration is responsible for total destruction of 1107 educational facilities and 855 kindergartens in the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan. As a result of the ethnic cleansing policy, all Azerbaijani schoolchildren and students have been expelled from their native lands. Tens of thousands of Azerbaijani children continue to realize their right to education under serious challenges stemming from their continued displacement. Many others along the line of confrontation attend their classes under the constant threat of being attacked by the indiscriminate bombing of the armed forces of Armenia.
Despite the fact that taking of hostages is clearly prohibited by the Article 34 of the IV Geneva Convention and in violation of Article 38 (1) and (4) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 224 children were taken hostage by Armenia and were subsequently released, and 29 children are still considered to be in Armenian captivity. 71 children are still missing as a result of Armenia’s aggression.
Even during the cease-fire regime, Armenia hasn’t refrained from such despicable activities as using children as targets. More than 35 Azerbaijani children were killed by the armed forces of Armenia during this period.
On September 27, 2020 the armed forces of Armenia have launched another aggression against Azerbaijan. As a result, 47 Azerbaijani civilians, including 3 children were killed, more than 15 children were injured, and dozens of civilian objects, including 38 schools were destroyed. On September 27, five members of one family in Gashalty village of Naftalan region of Azerbaijan, including two schoolchildren, 13 years old Shakhriyar Gurbanov and 14 years old Fidan Gurbanova, were killed by the armed forces of Armenia. Armenia’s attacks seriously damaged the education process in hundreds of schools near the conflict zone and border with Armenia and once again infringed the right to education of Azerbaijani children. On the night of October 11, 10 civilians were killed and 34, including minors, were seriously injured as a result of rocket fire on residential buildings in Ganja city situated far beyond the frontline. 3 children lost their both parents.
Despite numerous warnings by the Azerbaijani side, the continuation of the targeted attacks on civilians, as well as children by the armed forces of Armenia is a clear demonstration of the racist and xenophobic policy of this state. By killing and maiming children, as well as attacking against schools and hospitals Armenia continues to commit grave violations against children in times of armed conflict identified in Resolution 1261 (1999) of the United Nations Security Council.
Children represent the future. If the international community fails today its universal moral obligation to protect the future generation and provide them with safe haven, ignoring the decades-lasting plight and suffering of the whole generation, and failing to secure justice and rule of law which sow the seeds for conflicts to continue. In this regard, we call the international community, especially the relevant international organizations to react publicly to the deliberate targeting by Armenia of children and educational facilities in the Republic of Azerbaijan and take effective actions to stop the climate of impunity lasting for three decades. We also urge the international community to refrain from the actions, such as rendering political, financial and especially military support to Armenia which contributes to the grave violations committed by this country against the children in the Republic of Azerbaijan.