Shahumian’s De-Occupation Remains a Priority for Artsakh

Artsakh's occupied Shahumyan district

On June 12, 1992—30 years ago—the Azerbaijani armed forces occupied the Shahumian region of the Republic of Artsakh.

“This ancient region of Artsakh, which played an important role in the history of the Armenian statehood and National-Liberation Struggle and was one of the founding pillars of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, was occupied by the enemy that subjected the population to genocidal actions. As a result of the aggression, we suffered significant losses,” Artsakh’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

Due to the occupation of the Shahumyan region, most of the population was forced to flee their historical homeland and find refuge abroad.

“The pain of losing one’s homeland has not been healed in the hearts of either the residents of Shahumian, or the Armenians of Artsakh and around the world. We will never accept the loss of the Shahumian region. The issue of de-occupation of Shahumian continues to remain on the foreign policy agenda of the Republic of Artsakh,” said the statement.

“Shahumian was, is and will always remain an integral part of Artsakh,” the Artsakh foreign ministry added.

On the same occasion, the office of the Human Rights Defender of Artsakh also issued a statement, warning that Shahumian’s destiny is a harbinger of an Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan.

“Thirty years ago, as a result of repressions, attacks and criminal actions of Azerbaijan, 20,000 residents of the Shahumian region of the Republic of Artsakh were evicted and deported. More than 700 people were killed or disappeared, historical Armenian settlements were devastated and plundered, Armenian spiritual-cultural values of the region were vandalized and destroyed, the report of the Office of the Ombudsman of the Nagorno-Karabakh reads.

“Armenian houses were divided, and the “new owners” of Azerbaijan wrote their names on the gates with oil paint. The church was desecrated and turned into a sheep pen. The cross was broken, the bell was smashed with a rifle shot, and the shards were scattered back and forth,” eyewitnesses say.

The crimes committed against the Shahumians were an act of “punishment” for the exercise of their right to free will and independent and dignified life in their homeland.

The issue of restoring justice and the violated rights of the Shahumians, who were deprived of their homeland along ethnic and religious lines, was not clearly stated on the negotiating agenda and the Azerbaijani authorities were not held accountable for the crimes committed against them. Moreover, this impunity continues to generate new crimes, which we witnessed in April 2016, during the Azerbaijani aggression unleashed against the people of Artsakh in September 2020, and continues to manifest itself after the trilateral ceasefire statement of 9 November.

The international community continues to be reprehensibly indifferent to what is happening, which is not derived from the principle of universal protection of human rights,” the statement reads.