The Large Scale Military Actions in April 2016 Against Nagorno-Karabakh Republic

According to UNEP ( conflict has multiple, long- and short-term impacts on development, and on environmental and human well-being. The affects are felt at various spatial levels. Conflict undercuts or destroys environmental, physical, human and social capital, diminishing available opportunities for sustainable development. Conflict impacts on human well-being, reducing quality of life, the capabilities of people to live the kinds of lives they value, and the real choices they have. It results in the loss of lives, livelihoods and opportunity, as well as of human dignity and fundamental human rights.

AWHHE is concerned with the fact that in Nagorno-Karabakh, the conflict has contributed to the breakdown of social cohesion and the disruption of local governance systems. This in turn may result in established safety nets becoming unavailable. The destruction and decay of infrastructure not only affects the provision of essential services but leads to a breakdown in communication, through the loss of roads and telecommunications. This may increase the extent of isolation already experienced by rural communities; it may further diminish their sense of citizenship and contribute to a shrinking of civil society. Infrastructural decay results in the loss of market and other economic opportunities. Another problem is landmines. Some of the environmental problems associated with landmines include: habitat degradation, reduced access to water points and other vital resources, species loss, alteration of the natural food chain, and additional pressure on biodiversity.

This becomes particularly worrisome in view of the fact that Azerbaijani armed forces unleashed large scale offensive along the line of contact at the night of April 1 to April 2. The defense installations of the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army, civilian infrastructure, settlements came under heavy bombardment by artillery, tanks, armored vehicles, multiple rocket launchers, and air force, along the Line of Contact and deep inside the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. The units of the Azerbaijani army intruded Nagorno-Karabakh in several directions. The use of deadly offensive weapons included 122 mm caliber multiple launch rocket system “Grad”, heavy multiple rocket launcher “Smerch”, heavy flamethrower system TOS-1, 152 mm caliber howitzers and various-caliber mortars.

The first and decisive strike on which Azerbaijani armed forces counted for successful commencement of their military action was effectively resisted by the NK Defence Army. Azerbaijan lost significant amount of tanks, armored vehicles, number of combat, attack and other types of drones, 2 attack helicopters, as well as hundreds of troops. These figures are constantly updating but it is certain that Azerbaijan already paid a heavy price for its military adventurism and misleading reports on putative military gains will not be able to mitigate it. The NK Defence army endured casualties as well. So far over 70 servicemen were killed, over 100 wounded.

Azerbaijani Armed Forces in the course of their recent large-scale military offensive, intentionally targeted civilian infrastructures and civilian population, including children and the elderly. Among the first civilian victims were the 12 years-old boy, Vaghinak Grigoryan who was killed in front of the school-building as a result of a Grad missile attack, and two other wounded school-children. In the village of Talish of Martakert region of Nagorno-Karabakh, three elderly members of Khalapyan family, including the 92-year old woman Marusya Khalapyan were brutally tortured, mutilated and killed. A number of crimes were committed against the military personnel of the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army: three captive soldiers – Hayk Toroyan, Hrant Gharibyan and Karam Sloyan, were beheaded by Azerbaijani armed forces in ISIL style as social networks were full of photos of the Azerbaijani soldiers dancing and posing with chopped heads.

During the exchange of bodies of the deceased between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan carried out through the mediation of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, it was registered that 18 bodies of the deceased transferred by the Azerbaijani side had signs of torture and mutilation.

Those barbaric acts go beyond elementary norms of civilized world, constitute violations of core international instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Convention on the Rights of the Child, etc. It is imperative to specifically mention the blatant violation by Azerbaijan of Geneva Conventions of 1949, which inter alia address groups exposed to specific risks, such as children, women and elderly, and its Additional Protocols of 1977 and 1989.

Armenia has constantly raised the issue of ceasefire violations by Azerbaijan at the level of the Permanent Council since 2014. On numerous occasions Armenia agreed with the proposals of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to establish investigative mechanism into possible ceasefire violations while Azerbaijan rejected all proposals of international mediators on confidence building measures aimed at the consolidation of ceasefire. Armenia called on strengthening the capacities of the Office of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office whose field officers monitor ceasefire regime, while Azerbaijan attempted to limit their permanent presence in the conflict zone. The reason why is more than evident today. Hence all efforts of Azerbaijan were aimed at limiting the international presence and preparing conducive conditions for its new military aggression against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. Along this policy of undermining the peace process, Azerbaijan tried to get support of Turkey known for its hostile attitude towards Armenians. The provocative rhetoric of Turkish high level authorities before and after the recent escalation along with consistent support provided to the Azerbaijan armed forces are nothing less than open encouragement to commit new crimes against the Armenian people.