Ombudsman: Azerbaijani shootings close to Armenian villages violate residents’ right to life, destroy their peaceful life

Panorama, Armenia

Azerbaijani shootings of 25-26 July in the immediate vicinity of Armenia's Verin Shorzha, Sotk and Yeraskh villages violate residents' right to life and destroy their normal and peaceful life, Armenia’s Human Rights Defender (Ombudsman) Arman Tatoyan said in a report.

Since early this morning, the ombudsman’s office has received alarming calls from the civilian residents that the Azerbaijani armed forces are firing shots on Sotk village of the Geghamasar community in Gegharkunik Province.

It was revealed that the shots were fired from the positions of the Azerbaijani armed forces located in the area of the windmills of Sotk mountain pass in Geghamasar. The shootings occurred over a long period of time with interruptions.

The shootings were of different caliber weapons, and in addition to the Armenian military positions, the shootings were directed at the Sotk mine. The shootings were clearly audible in Sotk village and other parts of the Geghamasar community.

Alarming calls were also received that the employees of the Sotk mine had been evacuated due to the shootings of the Azerbaijani armed forces and the tense situation provoked by them.

The fact that GeoProMining Gold was forced to stop the mining overnight due to the shootings demonstrates that the Azerbaijani armed forces obstruct the company’s legal business activity, grossly violate the rights of employees, and pose a real threat to human life.

The human rights defender specifically states that the area of the windmills, from which the Azerbaijani armed forces shot, was provided to a company legally registered in Armenia, by the decision of the Armenian government in 2000, based on the law “On State Border”. A 30-year lease agreement was signed with that company, ensuring the state registration of property rights. Namely, the land is the legal possession of a company registered in Armenia, and was provided for the construction of a wind power plant for the purpose of electricity production.

The Azerbaijani armed forces illegally invaded that area in 2020. The company has built 2 windmills on 75 hectares of the mentioned 200-hectare land. The Azerbaijani armed forces illegally invaded that area on 25 November 2020, and the company suffered a loss of about $ 5,000,000. The ombudsman made a special statement about this on 5 February 2021.

Today, the human rights defender received alarming calls that the Azerbaijani forces initiated shootings since early morning on 26 July, at around 4:00am, in the vicinity of the mountain pastures of Verin Shozha village.

The human rights defender’s office also received alarming reports that the Azerbaijani armed forces, in addition to Gegharkunik Province, also fired shots near the Yeraskh community of Ararat Province of Armenia on 26 July, at around 11:30am. They were heard in the village as well. The shootings have been restarted from 15:30 and are still active.

“The facts of the Azerbaijani shootings in the immediate vicinity of the mentioned communities of Gegharkunik and Ararat Provinces of Armenia clearly prove that the attitude of the Azerbaijani armed servicemen that are positioned near civilian communities on the borders of Armenia, especially in the sections of Gegharkunik, Syunik, and recently in Ararat Provinces, is identical: shootings, animal thefts, obstacles to hay and harvesting, threats, etc.

“The described shootings clearly prove that the mere presence of the Azerbaijani armed forces in the vicinity of civilian communities of Armenia, and on the roads between the communities of Syunik Province is primarily a violation of the right to life of residents of Republic of Armenia.

“Their actions violate the right to property; free movement; right to animal husbandry; right to earn family income, and other vital rights of Armenia’s residents. They destroy the peace and normal life of civilians.

“The facts of Azerbaijani shootings of July 26 in the Gegharkunik and Ararat Provinces have also been officially confirmed by the Defense Ministry of Armenia,” the report said.

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