Sources and selected quotes, in order of appearance
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LIVE: Azerbaijan launched an attack in the direction of Artsakh. On Regional Post.
Spotlight Karabakh: The Republic of Artsakh. On EVN Report.
Nagorno-Karabakh - Statement by Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, on his arrival at the European Council. On La France au Royaume-Uni - Ambassade de France à Londres. https://uk.ambafrance.org/Haut-Karabakh-Paris-appelle-a-cesser-immediatement-les-hostilites
Je vais être très clair : dimanche, les frappes qui sont parties d’Azerbaïdjan, à nos connaissances, n’avaient pas de justification, et c’est ce que j’ai demandé au Président Aliyev. Je veux aussi être très clair : nous disposons d’informations, aujourd’hui, de manière certaine, qui indiquent que des combattants syriens ont quitté le théâtre d’opérations, des combattants de groupes djihadistes en transitant par Gaziantep pour rejoindre ce théâtre d’opérations du Haut-Karabakh.
Translation: Let me be very clear: The (air)strikes which started on Sunday in Azerbaijan, had to our knowledge, no justification, and that's what I asked President Aliyev. I also want to be very clear that we have information today, which indicates with certainty that Syrian fighters, fighters of jihadist groups, left their theater of operations and passed through Gaziantep [ed. Turkey] to reach the theater of operations in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Statement on the Conflict Between Armenia & Azerbaijan. On Harvard Armenian Law Students Association.
“Since launching preliminary attacks in July, it [Azerbaijan] has committed numerous international law violations. First, Azerbaijan’s initiation of hostilities breached the conflict-specific ceasefire agreed to in 1994, and another Russia-brokered ceasefire in 2016. Second, there is strong evidence that Azerbaijan is using internationally condemned weapons, including cluster munitions deployed against civilian targets. Third, Azerbaijan has violated the central principles of international humanitarian law: distinction and proportionality. These principles exist to protect non-combatants in times of armed conflict. In July of this year, Azerbaijani forces targeted and struck a kindergarten, bombed a PPE factory (in the middle of a global pandemic), and threatened to attack a nuclear power plant outside Yerevan, Armenia’s capital. In the last week, Azerbaijani forces have shelled civilian cities in Artsakh, including Hadrut, Martuni, and Artsakh’s capital, Stepanakert. The damage confers no military advantage, but does kill and maim civilians, forcing droves into basements and shelters for refuge. These indiscriminate attacks are violations of both distinction and proportionality, as they have caused incidental loss to civilian life and damage to civilian objects that are excessive in relation to the direct military advantage anticipated.”
For Azerbaijan’s violations of humanitarian laws, see the section ‘ Artsakh Ombudsman Artak Beglaryan Live Press Briefing’ here, on EVN Report:
Azerbaijan, Turkey Responsible for Grave Breaches of Humanitarian Law The Legal Dimension of the Ongoing War. On EVN Report.
Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2017 - Azerbaijan, 2 June 2017, available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/5936a46c13.html [accessed 14 October 2020]
“Freedom Status: Not Free
Aggregate Score: 14/100 (0 = Least Free, 100 = Most Free)
Freedom Rating: 6.5/7 (1 = Most Free, 7 = Least Free)
Political Rights: 7/7 (1 = Most Free, 7 = Least Free)
Civil Liberties: 6/7 (1 = Most Free, 7 = Least Free)”
Azerbaijan on Reporters without Borders
“Hope quickly dashed - Not content with crushing all forms of pluralism, President Ilham Aliyev has been waging a relentless war against his remaining critics since 2014. Independent journalists and bloggers are jailed on absurd grounds if they do not first yield to harassment, blackmail or bribes. The hopes raised in late 2019 by the dismissal of presidential advisor Ali Hasanov, regarded as the media’s “censor in chief,” and by the announcement of major reforms were quickly dashed in early 2020 by the post-election crackdown on journalists who had tried to cover electoral fraud and opposition rallies. The main independent news websites are blocked. In a bid to silence journalists who continue to resist in exile, the authorities harass their family members still in Azerbaijan. They do not hesitate to reach beyond Azerbaijan’s borders, getting Azerbaijani journalists arrested in Georgia and Ukraine, and suing journalists in France.”
Azerbaijan ranks 168th of 180 countries in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index.
Interview with Armenia's President Armen Sarkissian: „The city looks like German cities during the Second World War”. On Bild.de
“„No, Armenia was not involved in that[the shelling of Ganja in Azerbaijan]. I mean the Republic of Armenia, and I’m the President of the Republic of Armenia. You’re coming from Stepanakert. That is the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, the Republic Artsakh. You witnessed huge shellings there. How many days were you in Stepanakert?“
Almost one week.
Sarkissian: „Did you see many shellings or was it just once?“
We were in a basement every night.
Sarkissian: „That basically answers your question. This war was started by the Azeri side. From the first day, instead of all going to the negotiation table together, Azerbaijan decided that they have the right to start a war. To start a war and to not only kill young soldiers at the frontline and to bomb left and right, but also to bomb civilians. Civilians in villages. In many cities of Nagorno-Karabakh.
If you are starting a war like that, you feel free to shell all the civilians and to use all possible types of weapons, including the air force, terrorists from Syria, Turkish military equipment, Turkish drones, and all of that. Do you expect that the other side will politely do nothing or that it will use the hunting knife?“
But there is a difference between military and civil targets, after all!
Sarkissian: „Were you in Stepanakert? Is it a military target or a civilian target?“
Yes, Stepanakert was attacked.
Sarkissian: „So why doesn’t the international community condemn what the other side, together with Turkey, is doing? For more than two weeks now, they have been shelling civilians and killing civilians.“
Updates From Artsakh: An Existential Threat. On EVN Report.
Death toll rises as Azeris, Armenians say civilian areas are under fire. On Reuters.
BILD Reporter at Armenian Frontline: Church bombed to ruin: Journalists were injured during second attack - one of them is fighting for his life. On Bild.de
“With the attack on the historic church, it has become clear that the Azerbaijani army does NOT only shoot at military positions.”
Recorrido por el hospital de Martakert, Arts, bombardeada por Azerbaiyán - 15/10/2020
On site report of the Martakert Hospital, bombarded by Azerbaijan - 15/10/2020
Video from Diario Armenia https://youtu.be/BPA85iT41kI
Per report of Artsakh Ombudsman Artak Beglaryan, human rights activist and researcher Simon Maghakyan tweeted the following on atrocities by Azerbaijani forces:
“Reports indicate that Azerbaijan’s special forces have committed a massacre of non-evacuated civilians in Hadrut today — a mother & her disabled son. As a reminder, in April 2016 during its 1-day capture of Talish, Azerbaijani forces executed & mutilated every civilian they found.”
Frequently Asked Questions about the Armenian Genocide. On Armenian National Institute.
“[The] Young Turk triumvirate relied on other members of the CUP appointed to high government posts and assigned to military commands to carry out the Armenian Genocide. In addition to the Ministry of War and the Ministry of the Interior, the Young Turks also relied on a newly-created secret outfit which they manned with convicts and irregular troops, called the Special Organization (Teshkilati Mahsusa). Its primary function was the carrying out of the mass slaughter of the deported Armenians. In charge of the Special Organization was Behaeddin Shakir, a medical doctor. Moreover, ideologists such as Zia Gokalp propagandized through the media on behalf of the CUP by promoting Pan-Turanism, the creation of a new empire stretching from Anatolia into Central Asia whose population would be exclusively Turkic. These concepts justified and popularized the secret CUP plans to liquidate the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire.”
Armenia: Residents of Vardenis border region recall deadly night attack. On Ruptly.tv https://www.ruptly.tv/en/videos/20201001-028-Armenia--Residents-of-Vardenis-border-region-recall-deadly-night-attack
The Real Perpetrator of the 2020 Artsakh War. On EVN Report.
Though both sides have traded accusations that the other side started it, here are several facts and the context which show that it was Azerbaijan who started the war.
● It is Azerbaijan that lost territories during the first Karabakh War.
● It is Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev who, for years, has been claiming that if Armenians do not withdraw their armed forces he will force them to do so.
● It is Azerbaijan’s President, who declared that the ongoing negotiations are “meaningless” and that there is a military solution to the conflict.
● It is Azerbaijan that has been rejecting the 2016 Vienna and Saint Petersburg summits’ proposals by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to introduce gunfire locators that would positively identify which side began any ceasefire violation and the strengthened ceasefire monitoring.
● In late September 2020, a few days before the hostilities, Aliyev rejected the request of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office to monitor the Line of Contact.
● It was Aliyev who, back in 2015, claimed that international law does not work and international agreements have no value. Recall that Azerbaijan is a member of the OSCE which has adopted the Helsinki Final Act. One of the ten principles of the document is the “Peaceful settlement of disputes,” which is not being adhered to by Azerbaijan, along with another important principle of the document: “Refraining from the threat or use of force.”
● It is Azerbaijani authorities that, during the July 2020 escalation between Armenia and Azerbaijan, threatened to strike Armenia’s Metsamor nuclear power plant. Although they walked the statement back, it is an example of their aggressive and bellicose rhetoric.
● During a recent interview with Al Jazeera, Aliyev complained that Armenia had refused to give back territories during negotiations. Considering Aliyev’s years-long rhetoric that the conflict has a military solution and negotiations are fruitless, it is not baseless to assume that he initiated the war. Furthermore, he did not adequately answer the journalist’s question of why Armenia needs to start a war against Azerbaijan, insisting that Armenia wanted to destroy negotiations. One can raise a fair question: Why does Armenia need to end the negotiation process? To start a war? Considering Armenians’ capabilities (described below), it is too risky and senseless.
● Some long-standing and independent experts on the Karabakh conflict, Thomas de Waal among them, also contend that Armenia does not have an incentive to start a war. Instead, it is Azerbaijan that is interested in attacking Artsakh.
● The Secretary General of the Organization for American States (OAS) Luis Almagro stated that they have closely followed the unilateral arms race of Azerbaijan and “that escalation was undoubtedly the preparation for this armed aggression against Nagorno Karabakh. There is clear evidence of Azerbaijan’s full responsibility regarding the escalation of the conflict.”
● Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, one of the Minsk Group Co-Chair countries, stated that the latest confrontation was launched by Azerbaijan and that the attack was not justified. The former President of France, Francois Hollande, mentioned that this is a war initiated by Azerbaijan with Turkey’s support. Based on some objective realities, Argentina’s foreign minister, in turn, claimed that Armenia is not an aggressor.
● Last but not least, some key statistics, above all demographic and financial, tell a lot. Artsakh and Armenia are both small countries (though the former is unrecognized) with populations of 145,000 and 2.9 million respectively. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan has a population of about 10 million people. Armenia’s annual GDP is about $13 billion, whereas Azerbaijan’s is more than $45 billion. In total, Armenia’s military spending between 2009 and 2018 was about $4 billion, whereas Azerbaijan spent about $24 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Turkey deploying Syrian fighters to help ally Azerbaijan, two fighters say. On Reuters.
Syrian rebel fighters prepare to deploy to Azerbaijan in sign of Turkey’s ambition. In The Guardian.
France and Germany tell Turkey to stop provocations. On Reuters.
“Le Drian criticised Turkey’s role in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, where it supports Azerbaijan against ethnic Armenians. ‘There will not be a military victory on this issue so the ceasefire must be implemented,” he said. “What we can see today is the only country which isn’t calling for respect of the ceasefire is Turkey and that’s damaging.’”
Turkey, Azerbaijan deepen defense industry cooperation with new bilateral agreement. On Nordic Monitor.
Turkey Jumps Into Another Foreign Conflict, This Time in the Caucasus. In The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/01/world/middleeast/turkey-azerbaijan-armenia-war.html
Azerbaijani Cargo Planes Fly to Turkey and Israel 33 Times in Less Than a Week. On Hetq - Investigative Journalists. https://hetq.am/en/article/122970
FROM AZERBAIJAN TO ABU DHABI: ISRAEL, AUTOCRATS, AND ARMS SALES. On Israel Policy Forum. https://israelpolicyforum.org/2020/10/06/from-azerbaijan-to-abu-dhabi-israel-autocrats-and-arms-sales/
Armenia/Azerbaijan: Civilians must be protected from use of banned cluster bombs. On Amnesty.org https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/10/armenia-azerbaijan-civilians-must-be-protected-from-use-of-banned-cluster-bombs/
“Azerbaijan reported that the Armenian forces attacked civilian areas in the country’s second largest city of Ganja, as well as other towns. While Amnesty International experts have verified that 300mm Smerch rocket artillery systems do appear to have been used by Armenian forces, the photographic and video evidence available from the Azerbaijani side does not yet allow for conclusive analysis of its specific targets, nor whether the rocket warheads contained cluster munitions.”
Verifying Azerbaijan’s use of cluster munitions in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict
Videos online showed use of munitions in civilian areas of Stepanakert. On DRFLab.
AZERBAIJANI LAUNDROMAT · THE INFLUENCE MACHINE. On OCCRP. https://www.occrp.org/en/azerbaijanilaundromat/the-influence-machine
Lobby for Aliyev by Aliyev, 2005–2018.
Azerbaijan’s American Media Manipulation.
How Azerbaijan Is Lobbying Washington To Sanitize Its War. On The American Conservative. https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/as-war-rages-azerbaijan-pumps-money-and-propaganda-into-u-s-lobbying-machine/
Patriotic astroturfing in the Azerbaijan-Armenia Twitter war. On DRFLab.
Our Response to Azeri Hate Crimes, Vandalism, and Attacks on Peaceful Protestors. On Zoravik Activist Collective.
From Hate Speech to Ethnic Cleansing: Why We Need to Get Our Facts Right about Armenia and Azerbaijan. On Zoravik Activist Collective.
Understanding the Aliyev Regime’s Armenophobia. On EVN Report.
How Family that Runs Azerbaijan Built an Empire of Hidden Wealth. On International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
Azerbaijani president calls into question negotiations with Armenia
Captive of the Caucasus: The Long War Over Nagorno-Karabakh. In The Nation.
For Azerbaijan’s violations of humanitarian laws, see the section ‘ Artsakh Ombudsman Artak Beglaryan Live Press Briefing’ here, on EVN Report:
“9 p.m.: During a press briefing, Artsakh’s Ombudsman, Artak Beglaryan, presented the results of his office’s fact-finding mission. [His office published the second interim report about the Azerbaijani aggression against the people of Artsakh. The first report was published on October 1.]
Targeted Attacks on Civilians
Beglaryan reminded that on September 27, Azerbaijan launched a large-scale war against the Republic of Artsakh and since the beginning of the war, the Azerbaijani side has intentionally targeted the civilian population, settlements close to the Line of Contact as well as settlements far from the frontline, including the capital Stepanakert. Even settlements that are 90-100 kilometers away from the Line of Contact have also been targeted by missiles and combat drones. Because of the intentional targeting of civilian settlements, 25 civilians have been killed and at least 102 wounded as of October 10, (five were killed yesterday). Civilians have been killed in Martuni, Martakert, Hadrut, Stepanakert as well as the surrounding communities and villages of these cities. More than half of the civilians that were killed are above the age of fifty, one is a child and nine are females. The number of wounded also includes elders, females and children. Azerbaijan has continuously and in a coordinated manner targeted civilian populations. Also, Azerbaijan used weapons with very high accuracy rate against civilian settlements (Israeli-made Harop suicide drone is just one example). Beglaryan noted that this has resulted in human losses as well as destruction of civilian infrastructures and private properties.
Attacks on Journalists
Speaking about the targeting of journalists, Beglaryan reminded that on October 1, a group of journalists were targeted by the Azerbaijani military in the city of Martuni. As a result four civilians were killed, a number of others were wounded, among them four journalists (two of them were French citizens). Another group of journalists were targeted on October 2, in the city of Martakert but fortunately there were no casualties. And on October 8, three Russian journalists were wounded following an attack on the Ghazanchetsots Church in Shushi. Beglaryan stressed that he strongly condemns the intentional targeting of civilians as well as journalists by the Azerbaijnai Armed Forces. Considering the fact that the car as well as the clothing of journalists clearly identified them as press, it is possible to claim that they were intentionally targeted. Beglaryan stressed that this is a war crime and the international community should be persistent in identifying and punishing those responsible.
The Risk of Maltreatment of Dead Bodies
Beglaryan noted that the bodies of some Armenian servicemen are in the Azerbaijani territory and there is evidence that the Azerbaijani side has maltreated these bodies, which is prohibited by international humanitarian law. He welcomed the establishment of humanitarian ceasefire on October 10 and emphasized the need for ensuring favorable conditions for the transfer of bodies according to the norms of international humanitarian law.
Targeted Attacks on Civilian Infrastructures
Since October 3, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces have deliberately and regularly targeted key civilian infrastructures, including electricity, communications, gas and water supply systems in Artsakh to deprive tens of thousands of peaceful civilians of basic living conditions. More than 25 crucial energy infrastructure objects and equipment have been totally destroyed and a large number of networks have been damaged since the beginning of the war. Particularly, Azerbaijani Armed Forces hit the central electricity station and local stations in Stepanakert and in other towns and villages. As a result, more than 10 stations have been destroyed or seriously damaged and people of Artsakh were deprived of electricity for a few days.
Phone and internet communication networks have also been targeted since September 27. First, Azerbaijani hackers created extensive problems in the system and starting from October 3, Azerbaijani Armed Forces have systematically and intentionally targeted the communication stations and networks with missiles and combat drones. As a result dozens of key communication infrastructures have been destroyed or seriously damaged.
The Use of Banned Weapons
Since the beginning of the war, Azerbaijan has been repeatedly using multiple rocket launchers and cluster munitions in areas where civilian population and civilian objects are located. The attacks have caused casualties and destruction of private and public properties. Almost all civilian settlements in Artsakh, including densely populated cities and towns, have been targeted by various combat drones.
These are all clear violations of international law, which forbids attacking civilians, including journalists, and civilian objects, as well as use of cluster munitions in any case, when the distinction between military targets cannot be ensured.”
NEUE ANGRIFFE AUF STEPANAKERT: Waffenstillstand bröckelt! Wieder heftige Explosionen. On Bild.de
“Eine Stunde nach Beginn der Feuerpause veröffentlichte das aserbaidschanische Militär ein Video, das „die Zerstörung von gepanzerten Fahrzeugen des Feindes, die die Waffenruhe verletzt haben,“ zeigen soll. Darin zu sehen: Drohnen-Angriffe auf zwei bewaffnete Mannschaftstransporter und ein Fahrzeug in einer Frontposition. Angeblich sollen die Fahrzeuge mit ihren Flugabwehr-Geschützen auf Drohnen der aserbaidschanischen Armee gefeuert haben. Beweise lieferte Aserbaidschan für die angeblichen Angriffe Armeniens während der Waffenruhe nicht, belegte aber mit den Videos, dass man sich selbst offenbar nicht verpflichtet fühle, nicht mehr zu schießen.”
Translation: “An hour after the ceasefire began, the Azerbaijani military released a video allegedly showing "the destruction of enemy armored vehicles that violated the ceasefire". It shows: drone attacks on two armed personnel carriers and a vehicle in a front position. Allegedly, the vehicles with their anti-aircraft guns fired on drones of the Azerbaijani army. Azerbaijan did not provide any evidence of the alleged attacks by Armenia during the ceasefire, but demonstrated with the videos that it does not seem to feel obliged to stop shooting.”
Fresh Azerbaijani shelling shatters peace after fragile ceasefire agreed. In The Guardian.