Victims of Azerbaijani Attack on Artsakh were Tortured, Human Rights Defender Says

Armenia's Rights Defender Anahit Manasyan with CoE Rights Commissioner Dunja Mijatović in Koyak on Oct. 18

Armenia’s Human Rights Defender Anahit Manasyan said Thursday that signs of torture and mutilation were observed on the remains of Artsakh Armenians killed during Azerbaijan’s large-scale attack there in September.

She said that her preliminary report on the ill-treatment and torture was used by attorneys representing Armenia during last week’s hearing at the International Court of Justice.

The report found torture and mutilations on numerous bodies that were evacuated from Artsakh to Armenia, including bodies of civilians, including women and children.

Speaking about the former Artsakh officials who are now jailed in Azerbaijan, the Human Rights Defender said that the rights of the Artsakh Armenians are being restricted with explicit violations of international legal standards.

“First of all the presumption of innocence of these persons is violated on all levels in Azerbaijan, because they are branded as criminals from the very beginning, both on the state level and by specific individuals,” Manasyan said, adding that it is impossible to guarantee due process in Azerbaijan given the state-sanctioned Armenophobia there.

On Wednesday, Manasyan and the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe Dunja Mijatović to visited the Kotayk province and met with displaced Artsakh resident temporarily being housed there.

Around 105 forcibly displaced persons, including 40 children, are currently living Tsaghkadzor’s winter retreat.

”Private interviews were held with forcibly displaced persons. They presented the deprivations they suffered and the problems caused by the forced displacement to the Defender and the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe,” Armenia’s Human Rights Defender’s office said in a statement.

“Special attention was paid to issues related to ensuring the rights of children and persons with disabilities,” the statement said.

Manasyan also visited the temporary accommodation of displaced persons located in the University hotel of Yerevan State University located in Tsaghkadzor, where 167 forcibly displaced persons, including 44 children, are currently staying.

During the meeting their conditions, needs assessment, medical aid and service, food, as well as personal hygiene items provision processes were examined. 

As a result of the visit, the problems recorded by rights defender will be summarized and the proposals aimed at solving them will be presented to the competent authorities together with the appropriate analysis.