Armenia and Azerbaijan have been guilty of repeated arbitrary violence against civilians in the fight for the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Amnesty International said this in a report on Thursday.
According to Amnesty International, military forces from both countries used inaccurate weapons, including cluster munitions and explosive weapons, in areas where civilians live. In doing so, they have violated international law, according to the human rights organization.
Amnesty International investigated 17 attacks by both countries. At least 146 civilians, including children and the elderly, were killed between the end of September and the beginning of November.
Both countries deny using inaccurate weapons. The countries’ authorities also state that they have not carried out arbitrary attacks on civilian areas. However, the human rights organization claims to have sufficient evidence and spoke with 79 survivors, witnesses, authorities and journalists. Satellite images, videos and photos of the area were also analyzed.
For example, Armenian forces killed more than 21 civilians in the Azerbaijani city of Ganja, near a buffer zone around Nagorno-Karabakh, Amnesty said. Azerbaijan was guilty of several daily attacks on the capital Stepanakert, including cluster bombs. Dozens were killed and injured and a large part of the city was razed to the ground.
Human rights organization Amnesty demands that Armenia and Azerbaijan carry out an impartial investigation into the use of high explosives in areas where civilians live. “With security arrangements in place, it is critical that those responsible for these violations are promptly held to account,” said Marie Struthers of the organization.
The parties previously concluded a peace agreement
Last September, the conflict between the two countries in the South Caucasus flared up for the second time that year over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. That area is predominantly populated by Christian Armenians, but internationally falls under Azerbaijani territory.
In November Azerbaijan and Armenia – with Russia as mediator – signed a peace agreement. Since then, the two sides have accused each other of violating the truce on several occasions, but no further escalation has taken place.
Under the agreement that the three parties concluded, it has been agreed that Armenia will return the areas conquered by Azerbaijan and leave the buffer zone around the area. In exchange, the latter country stopped its attacks in Nagorno-Karabach, and the capital Stepanakert is also left alone. Russia is sending a peacekeeping force to enforce the agreement.