As a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan is expected to take place in Geneva tomorrow, Stepanakert, the capital of Artsakh, and other towns and villages came under constant shelling by Azerbaijani forces today. According to the Defense Ministry, military operations took place from Berdzor to the shores of the Araks River. Although Armenian forces managed to improve their positions in some areas, subversive Azerbaijani units continued to infiltrate a number of settlements, requiring the implementation of different strategies and tactics.
The International Committee of the Red Cross facilitated the handover of bodies of combatants killed in action during the ongoing war. According to the ICRC, the operation took place following an agreement between the sides; the remains were transferred across the international border from Azerbaijan to Armenia.
The President of Artsakh issued a call-to-arms today in a video message to the nation, saying that Azerbaijani units were several kilometers from the fortress city of Shushi.
Here is a chronology of official updates.
Stepanakert Continues to Be Bombed
This primer provides the reader with an overview of the historical origins of the Karabakh conflict, the Soviet era, the war, the peace process all the way to the Four Day War in April 2016.Read more
8:30 a.m.: According to Artsakh’s State Service of Emergency Situations, Artsakh’s capital Stepanakert is being bombed again. Overnight, the city was hit by five missiles, and more than a dozen early this morning. No reports on casualties yet.
8:40 a.m.: According to the Artsakh Defense Ministry: The operational situation in the Artsakh-Azerbaijani conflict zone did not change significantly overnight, remaining tense but stable.
Just after midnight, Azerbaijani forces resumed targeting peaceful settlements across Artsakh. Stepanakert, Sushi and a number of surrounding villages were targeted with Smerch multiple rocket launchers.
Artsakh’s air defense shot down yet another Bayraktar strike drone recently as well. The Defense Army has the tactical situation under control.
9:30 a.m.: According to Armenia’s Defense Ministry: Military operations continue intensively in different directions of the front line in Artsakh. Battles are ongoing in the villages of Avetaranots, Sghnakh and Aknaghbyur in the Askeran region. The Defense Ministry says Azerbaijani forces suffered “great losses of manpower.”
10:10 a.m.: The Artsakh Defense Ministry has published the names of another 51 Armenian servicemen killed in battle.
Malincyan, Arsen [Samveli], b. 1973
Marutyan, Vrezh [Artavazdi], b. 1970 (reservist)
Shahbazyan, Ara [Khachaturi], b. 1982
Gevorgyan, Gevorg [Armeni], b. 1999
Gharibyan, Seyran [Srapi], b. 1998
Khachatryan, Samvel [Gevorgi], b. 1999
Gasparyan, Norik [Armeni], b. 1998
Khachatryan, Jivan [Roberti], b. 1994
Tsatryan, Andranik [Serzhiki], b. 1987
Hovhannisyan, Arsen [Eghishei], b. 1983
Serobyan, Zaqar [Sureni], b. 1997
Grigoryan, Andranik [Serobi], b. 1996
Rafayelyan, Harutyun [Vrezhi], b. 1992 (reservist)
Zaqaryan, Edgar [Sevaki], b. 2002
Sargsyan, Rubik [Aramayisi], b. 2000
Gharibyan, Isahak [Arturi], b. 2001
Danielyan, Arayik [Sarukhani], b. 1979 (reservist)
Melqonyan, Garik [Sureni], b. 1991 (reservist)
Movsisyan, Aharon [Andraniki], b. 1989
Chobanyan, Arshaluys [Aleksani], b. 1978 (reservist)
Titizyan, Hovhannes [Lyovayi], b. 1999
Melkonyan, Harutyun [Mkrtchi], b. 2001
Tovmasyan, Arman [Samveli], b.1999
Janoyan, Aghajan [Arshaluysi], b. 2002
Torosyan, Karen [Arayiki], b. 2001
Khachatryan, Narek [Rafiki], b. 2000
Fidanyan, Garnik [Lendrushi], b. 2001
Sahakyan, Paylak [Serzhiki], b. 2000
Avetisyan, Harutyun [Ashoti], b. 2000
Martirosyan, Armen [Edgari], b. 2001
Tevonyan, Noy [Lyovayi], b. 2001
Arakelyan, Karen [Misaki], b. 2000
Sahakyan, Aghasi [Tigrani], b. 2000
Hayrapetyan, Samvel [Sedraki], b. 2001
Asoyan, Levon [Khachiki], b. 2000
Khachatryan, Arman [Arami], b. 2000
Aghababyan, Artsrun [Vasili], b. 1999
Harutyunyan, Mikayel [Koryuni], b. 2001
Alaverdyan, Samvel [Vardani], b. 2002
Hovhannisyan, Artyom [Mesropi], b. 2000
Harutyunyan, Davit [Samveli], b. 2000
Khachatryan, Mher [Mnatsakani], b. 2001
Poghosyan, Grigor [Arturi], b. 2001
Varagyan, Goris [Mkhitari], b. 2001
Batmanyan, Karen [Karapeti], b. 2001
Simonyan, Arman [Gevorgi], b. 2002
Beybutyan, Hovhannes [Spartaki], b. 1997
Danielyan, Mushegh [Vardani], b. 2001
Harutyunyan, Armen [Ediki], b. 2001
Nahapetyan, Erik [Daviti], b. 2000
Sargsyan, Sergey [Zhorayi], b. 2001
11:14 a.m.: According to the Artsakh Defense Army, the Azerbaijani side is shelling Stepanakert, Shushi and Martakert with Smerch multiple rocket launchers.
“Azerbaijan, once again, violating the requirements of international humanitarian and customary law, started shelling civilian settlements, as a result of which there are casualties among the civilian population. The military-political leadership of Azerbaijan is committing yet another war crime. The criminal leadership of Azerbaijan bears all the responsibility for the further escalation of the situation.”
11:55 a.m.: According to the Armenian Unified Infocenter, during an hour-long air raid, Azerbaijani forces shelled Stepanakert from Smerch multiple rocket launchers. Air raid sirens are ringing in Stepanakert, Askeran, Martuni and Martakert.
Legitimate Military Targets in Azerbaijan According to Artsakh Defense Ministry
12:20 p.m.: The Artsakh Defense Army posted a list of legitimate military targets located in the Azerbaijani cities of Ganja and Barda.
The list of legitimate military target in Ganja:
– Defence Ministry Air Force Air Base, Helicopter Air Squadron
– General Staff Motorized Rifle Brigade Headquarters
– Special Forces Brigade
– Azebaijani MoD Combat Operations Centre
– Armed Forces General Staff Radio Technical Battalion
– Azerbaijan MoD fuel and lubricant supply and logistics centre
– Military-Industrial complex including aviation and munitions factories
The list of legitimate military targets in Barda:
– Headquarters of the 1st Military Corps
– Repair battalion
– Communications battalion
– Anti-aircraft missile division
– Tank brigade
– Anti-tank division
Armenian Foreign Ministry: Azerbaijan’s Policy of Crimes Against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing Doomed to Failure
1:00 p.m.: Statement by the Foreign Ministry of Armenia:
During the last three days, the peaceful settlements of Nagorno-Karabakh have been under continuous attacks by Azerbaijan with the use of various types of missiles, artillery and UAVs, as well as air force bombings.
Since the afternoon of October 28, Stepanakert, Shushi and Martakert have been under continuous attack. Stepanakert and Martakert are under the most intense bombing, which has resulted in heavy damage among the civilian population and destruction of civilian infrastructure. Amid the pandemic, hospitals and other healthcare infrastructure have been targeted. There are numerous casualties and wounded.
The war crimes of the Azerbaijani regime against the civilian population are accompanied by the direct involvement of Turkey and foreign terrorist fighters, and pursue the objective to annihilate the Armenian people of the Nagorno-Karabakh.
Despite the calls of the international community and the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, Azerbaijan persistently rejects the implementation of the ceasefire agreements and the introduction of the verification mechanisms to maintain the ceasefire in the conflict zone.
While pursuing its genocidal intent and evading responsibility, Azerbaijan simultaneously launched a campaign based on falsification and fabrications to mislead the international community.
Azerbaijan’s policy of crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing is doomed to failure and will encounter the resolute resistance of the people of Artsakh, which will be carried out through all the means necessary for self-defense.
From the Diaspora High Commissioner’s Office
A group of Turks threatened the Armenians in Vienne, France, attacked the police and carried out multiple provocative actions.
A Turkish mob also stormed the streets of Lyon threatening the Armenian community. They targeted Armenian owned businesses while yelling “Where are you Armenians?” We call on our compatriots to remain alert, to not give in to any provocations and work with local authorities.
Peaceful protestors in Fresno, California were also attacked. The police are investigating the incident. This is not the first incident where Azerbaijan and Turkey insight violence and provocations outside their borders.
1:17 p.m.: Artsakh Ombudsman on damage to civilian buildings in Shushi following an attack by Azerbaijani forces.
2:15 p.m.: According to Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan, on October 29, thanks to the special mediation of the Russian Federation, the bodies of 30 Armenian servicemen killed during military operations were handed over to the Armenian side in the presence of the ICRC and the ground team of the personal representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office. Also, thanks to the efforts of the ICRC, one civilian was returned to the Armenian side.
The Armenian side, committed to the agreements reached within the framework of the humanitarian ceasefires, once again expresses its readiness to hand over the bodies of Azerbaijani servicemen in the territory of Artsakh and those left in the no-man’s land, including also providing information about and later exchanging POWs.
2:50 p.m.: Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan said that the statements by the Azerbaijani side about the destruction of two Su-25 planes of the Armenian Armed Forces is misinformation.
4:30 p.m.: Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova touched upon the situation in Artsakh during her weekly briefing:
Unfortunately the situation around the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains challenging. The standoff is ongoing. We continue to take active steps for the deescalation of the conflict both in our national capacity and in our capacity as an OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair. The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan have had multiple telephone conversations with the Russian president.
We are deeply concerned about the ongoing hostility and the growing involvement of foriegn mercenaries from the Middle East, the growing costs to the economies and the societies party to the conflict. We are convinced that there is no alternative to the peaceful solution of the problem.
An arrangement has been made to have another meeting of the sides on October 30 in Geneva.
ICRC Facilitates Transfer of Combatants Killed in Action
5:15 p.m.: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has facilitated the handover of bodies of combatants killed in action during the recent escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Today’s operation took place following an agreement between the sides. The remains were transferred across the international border from Azerbaijan to Armenia. The ICRC took part in the humanitarian operation as a neutral intermediary.
In addition, the agreement included the transfer of two civilians held in relation to the conflict. With assistance from the ICRC, an elderly woman was transferred from Azerbaijan to Armenia via Georgia yesterday. A second civilian, an elderly man, was deemed unfit to travel for the time being.
“Even in the deadliest of conflicts, the ICRC, with our long-standing record as a neutral intermediary, sees how shared humanitarian objectives can help parties find common ground, whether through the transfer or return of prisoners, the evacuation of wounded, cross-line humanitarian activities, or the respectful handover of mortal remains,” said Martin Schüepp, ICRC Eurasia Regional Director in Geneva. “The burial of a husband, father or son is essential to help bring closure to the family left behind.”
The transfer of bodies took place in coordination with the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group and the personal representative of the OSCE chairman-in-office.
Under international humanitarian law, parties to a conflict must endeavor to facilitate the return of the remains of the deceased upon request of the side to which they belong, or their next of kin.
The ICRC’s involvement in this operation included assisting with logistical preparations, as well as providing support to the sides on carrying out the operation safely and in accordance with humanitarian principles.
Schüepp added: “Operations like this are hugely important for the families concerned. Without receiving the remains of their loved ones, they live with the pain of loss compounded by the pain of uncertainty. Not knowing the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones can be agonizing.
“Through this operation, we hope that families will be able to find some closure. They can say goodbye to their loved ones by giving them a dignified burial according to their traditions.
“The ICRC stands ready to participate in similar operations, as and when the sides agree that they should take place.”
Since it started working in connection with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in 1992, the ICRC has repeatedly helped authorities with such operations. The ICRC will support any similar operations in the future should the need arise and continue to encourage any initiative relating to missing persons.
6:05 p.m.: According to Artsakh’s State Emergency Service, during the day, peaceful settlements of Artsakh were targeted by Azerbaijani forces.
At dawn, Stepanakert was shelled. One residential house was completely destroyed injuring the homeowner and a neighbor. A gas pipeline, electricity wires and a car were also damaged. Later in the afternoon, the capital was attacked with Smerch multiple rocket launchers.
In the afternoon, Azerbaijani forces struck the town of Shushi, causing material damage to civilian infrastructure. There are casualties among the civilian population.
The Azerbaijani Air Force also attacked the towns of Askeran, Martakert and Martuni. There are no casualties. There is extensive damage to civilian settlements. Several times throughout the day, air raid sirens were heard in these settlements.
6:15 p.m.: The Artsakh Defense Ministry has published the names of another 47 Armenian servicemen killed in battle.
Sargsyan, Artak [Arseni], b. 2001
Papyan, Garik [Armeni], b. 1987 (reservist)
Hakobyan, Harutyun [Hakobi], b. 1998 (reservist)
Yazichyan, Judex [Yervandi], b. 1991 (reservist)
Sargsyan, Sargis [Raffii], b. 1987
Petrosyan, Vardan [Hamleti], b. 1980
Babajanyan, Ara [Hovhannesi], b. 1988
Martikyan, Garik [Vardaniki], b. 1993
Avanesyan, Alex [Samsoni], b. 2001
Mkrtchyan, Aram [Mheri], b. 2002
Muradyan, Miqayel [Daviti], b. 2001
Arustamyan, Miqayel [Manveli], b. 2001
Makaryan, Karen [Spartaki], b. 1986
Sahakyan, Garik [Leviki], b. 1983
Stepanyan, Hayk [Lermonti], b. 1979
Beknazaryan, Arman [Sergeyi] b. 1982
Davtyan, Vardan [Vahani], b. 1985
Avagyan, Andrey [Yuriki], b. 1990
Hakobyan, Seyran [Martiki], b. 1987
Khosrovyan, Emil [Gagiki], b. 1989
Patyan, Karen [Eduardi], b. 1989
Lalayan, Erik [Edvardi], b. 1982
Amirjanyan, Hayk [Vladimiri], b. 1990
Avagyan, Sasun [Borisi], b. 1990
Martirosyan, Armen [Borisi], b. 1977
Dallaqyan, Karen [Yuriki], b. 1984
Kostanyan, Davit [Armeni], b. 1998Sahakyan, Samvel [Rubeni], b. 2001
Asatryan, Mkhitar [Shaheni], b. 2000
Grigoryan, Arman [Yuriki], b. 2001
Knyazyan, Yurik [Eduardi], b. 2001
Mamikonyan, Edgar [Artemi], b. 2001
Sayadyan, Hrant [Kareni], b. 2000
Galstyan, Hovhannes [Miqayeli], b. 2000
Burnazyan, Karapet [Mkrtichi], b. 2002
Hovhannisyan, Sergey [Yurii], b. 2001
Arzumanyan, Sasun [Tatuli], b. 2001
Miqayelyan, Jivan [Anushavani], b. 2002
Ter-Poghosyan, Arsen [Armenaki], b. 200
Uzunyan, Gegham [Nshani], b. 1994
Potoyan, Mher [Vachagani], b. 1998
Beglaryan, Karen [Mheri], b. 1997
Ghrimyan, Hayk [Manveli], b. 1992
Mkrtchyan, Norik [Alexandri], b. 1987
Tavadyan, Harutyun [Sergeyi], b. 1992
Mnatsakanyan, Garik [Artashi], b. 1968
Harutyunyan, Vanush [Vahrami], b. 2002
Security Alert: U.S. Embassy Yerevan
6:30 p.m.: The U.S. Embassy in Yerevan has issued a security alert:
Event: Military confrontations continue in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Do not travel to the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The U.S. Embassy in Armenia urges U.S. citizens to exercise caution when traveling within Armenia. The U.S. Embassy has instructed Embassy employees and their families not to travel to the areas listed below and urges U.S. citizens to avoid travel to:
- Tavush province east of the M4 and M16 Highways north of the Dilijan National Park and up to the border with Georgia
- Gegharkunik province east and south of Lake Sevan and east of the M10 Highway
- All of Ararat, Vayots Dzor, and Syunik provinces
The U.S. Embassy will continue to monitor the security situation and provide additional information as needed.
Actions to take:
- Monitor local media for updates
- Avoid crowds
- Avoid demonstrations
- Notify friends and family of your safety
- Be aware of your surroundings
Russian President: Need to Stop Military Operations, Stop the Death, Sit Around the Table
7 p.m.: President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin discussed the Karabakh conflict during the VTB Capital “Russia Calling” investment forum.
“The conflict began with ethnic clashes, first in the town of Sumgayit in Azerbaijan and then in Nagorno-Karabakh itself and the then-authorities of the Soviet Union did not take any concrete steps to guarantee the safety of the people. Armenians took to arms, for better or worse… but initially the driving force for their action was the negative experiences on ethnic grounds. What did this result in? The result was that Nagorno-Karabakh itself and seven Azerbaijani territories ended up under Armenian control. Is this good or bad? Azerbaijan says these seven territories have nothing to do with any ethinic conflict or with Armenia, these are Azerbaijani territories. Azerbaijan says we have the right to return these territories and then deal with Nagorno Karabakh.
Each side has their own truth and there are no simple solutions. The knot is a very complicated one. Our position is that there first needs to be talk about the possibility of giving Azerbaijan five plus two regions while providing a specific regime of interaction between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia.
“It is important to find the balance on interests that would be acceptable to both sides: the Azerbaijani nation that we have utmost respect for and the Armenian nation and the government of Armenia. For people to feel safe and at the same time for there to be the possibilities for an effective regional development. With the unblocking of all infrastructural impediments, which will lead to the effective development of both Armenia and Azerbaijan as well as Nagorno-Karabakh, where people live quite humbly.
“First of all, we need to stop the military action, stop the death, sit down around the negotiating table and based on the Minsk Group suggestions, with the Russian, U.S. and French co-chairs, and with the other OSCE members states (there are many countries, including Turkey) and come to a consensus on the balance on interests. This is possible.”
Artsakh President: Azerbaijani Forces Five Kilometers From Shushi
7:15 p.m.: President of Artsakh Arayik Harutyunyan wrote the following on his Facebook Page:
“Today, at this crucial historical moment, when Turk-Azerbaijani and terrorist gangs are attacking Artsakh with all their military resources, with the aim of exterminating or expelling the Artsakh Armenians who have been living on their lands for millennia from their homeland, we are in a life and death battle and in all respects, in unequal conditions. They are threatening our homeland and our existence not only along the entire front line, but now they have put all of their most serious military resources toward Shushi with the objective of conquering, at all costs, the proud Armenian fortress city.
“Shushi is not simply a city, it is the symbol of the determination of the Armenian people to live in their homeland. Shushi is the beating heart of the entire Armenian nation. As the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of Artsakh, I am calling on you once again: Join us, let us protect our Shushi, our Artsakh, our national dignity together.”
In a separate video address, Harutyunyan said that Azerbaijani forces are five kilometers away from Shushi.
Armenia’s Ombudsman: Inhumane Treatment by Azerbaijani Armed Forces
8:05 p.m.: The following statement was issued by Armenia’s Ombudsman:
The Human Rights Defender’s Office of Armenia is currently conducting a study comparing the methods of atrocities and inhumane treatment inflicted on the bodies of Armenian servicemen, prisoners of war and civilians by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces with the methods of atrocities and inhumane treatment used by Islamic State (ISIS) and/or other terrorist groups.
Our preliminary findings show clear similarities.
For example, in both cases, parts of the victim’s body is mutilated or the victim is tortured or humiliated. This is followed by photographing or videotaping the atrocities and publishing them.
The publications themselves are deliberately published in such a way as to ensure wide dissemination and repeated exposure with the purpose of gaining public praise for the committed atrocities, to showcase the inhumane treatment, and to demonstrate a purported advantage.
Another common element is the clear intent to cause as much psychological pain and/or suffering to family members or relatives of the victim as possible. For example, by informing the family of the victim about a beheading. This is done with exceptional cynicism and obvious hatred.
The intent is to do everything possible to prolong the family’s mental pain and suffering. For example, perpetrators warn a family member 5-6 hours prior that they will be posting a photo of a slain soldier on the Internet.
Another important similarity identified in both instances is the use of these tactics to spread stress, panic and anxiety in society.
For example, the perpetrators spread hateful material from the social media pages of their Armenian captives or they post videos and photos of war atrocities on Armenian social media pages while spreading hatred against ethnic Armenians.
These matters and others are under the attention and inspection of the Human Rights Defender of Armenia. The research, when finalized, will be formally presented to relevant international bodies.
8:40 p.m.: According to the Armenian Unified Infocenter, fake Azerbaijani users began spreading Information today on social media networks about the alleged targeting of Hrazdan’s Thermal Power Station and called on residents of adjacent communities to evacuate.
Armenia’s National Security Service urges everyone to ignore similar disinformation, to not give into panic, to maintain vigilance and follow only official news sources.
Defense Ministry Live Press Briefing
10 p.m.: During a live press briefing, Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Defense Ministry said that, although the military operations continued along the entire length of the frontline, they were not very tense. In the south, military operations took place from Berdzor to the shores of the Araks River. Armenian forces managed to improve their positions. Military operations against the subversive groups of Azerbaijani forces in the villages of Martuni and Askeran regions as well as in the surrounding forests continued during the day. Hovhannisyan said that today’s operations took place in the direction of Avetaranots and Sghnakh villages and the surrounding forests and hills. Subversive groups infiltrate in various directions and the fight against them requires different strategies and tactics. During the day, a number of settlements of Artsakh continued to be shelled by Azerbaijani forces with artillery and missile systems.
Anna Naghdalyan, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson
Anna Naghdalyan talked about the recent diplomatic developments regarding the situation in Artsakh. “It’s been more than a month since Azerbaijan started and continues its aggression against the population of Artsakh, targeting civilian populations, infrastructure and mainly vital infrastructure. Today, the MFA released an announcement condemning the Azerbaijani side for targeting healthcare institutions as we witnessed yesterday. Artsakh’s civilian population has been struggling because of Azerbaijan’s aggressions. More specifically, as Artsakh’s Ombudsman Artak Beglaryan reported, 40 civilians have died and more than 120 have been wounded, and most of them have serious injuries. Also, there are more than 10,000 instances of damaged civilian infrastructure, including around 12,000 private properties and 2100 community infrastructure installations of vital significance. We also noted that Azerbaijan’s actions include crimes against humanity.
On October 30, Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan will meet with the OSCE Minsk group Co-chairs in Geneva. Right now, the Minister is meeting Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi.
MFA spokesperson Anna Naghdalyan:
Asked about the change of dates of the Geneva meeting from the 29th to the 30th, Naghdalyan said it was for logistic reasons. Mnatsakanyan’s meeting with the co-chairs is the only scheduled meeting for now. As for the agenda, the ceasefire, as per the agreement established earlier, and the establishment of its verification mechanisms is the agenda that Armenia plans to discuss in Geneva.
The Armenian ambassador to Israel who was recalled at the beginning of October is still in Yerevan. Armenia’s stance on Israeli arms sales to Azerbaijan has been clear and unchanged. It is a principled stance which does not only address selective nations but rather says any country that does not shy away from targeting civilian populations and infrastructure should not be supplied with arms. And that is exactly what we are witnessing in the last month. About Armenia refusing to accept the humanitarian aid offered by Israel, Naghdalyan said it is a priority for Armenia that Israel stop arms sales to Azerbaijan or else the fact is that a nation that has survived Genocide is helping another nation with genocidal and terroristic tendencies.
Commenting on a recent tweet by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev where he promises to bring prosperity to Nagorno-Karabakh, Naghdalyan said that, like many other announcements before and much like the actions of the Azerbaijani Army, Azerbaijan primarily aims to rid Nagorno-Karabakh of its native Armenian population. However, the survival of the Armenian population under Azerbaijani jurisdiction is impossible. Azerbaijan’s actions since the beginning of the large-scale aggression against Artsakh have been in gross violation of military as well as humanitarian principles, which is telling of Azerbaijan’s intentions in itself. The use of cluster bombs against civilians is evidence of the intent to cause as much harm as possible, the targeting of infrastructure, of institutions vital for civilian life, the obvious violation of the Geneva convention in the Hadrut region, where we saw the cruel murder of civilians and the fact that these atrocities are recorded and shared on social media. The Azerbaijani side tried to destroy the settlements that came under their control and the intent here is also to stop the return of the native population to the area in the future. It is abidance by military and humanitarian principles that sets apart a proper army from armed terrorist forces and a state apart from a terrorist organization.
Artsrun Hovhannisyan of Defense Ministry:
Responding to a question about Artsakh’s President Arayik Harutyunyan’s call to arms, when the President said the “enemy is five kilometers away from Shushi,” Hovhanissyan said it is customary for the leaders of countries to make calls to arms during times of war. Hovhannisyan said the war is ongoing even though the initial intensity has comparatively died down. Still, there are subversive groups not five but about seven kilometers from Shushi.
Request to ECtHR to Protect the Rights of Armenian Servicemen in Azerbaijani Captivity
Lawyers Artak Zeynalyan and Siranush Sahakyan submitted a case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) regarding the protection of the rights of five Armenian servicemen who are in Azerbaijani captivity following the large-scale war unleashed by Azerbaijan against Artsakh. The captives are Samvel Asatryan, Albert Mikaelyan, Edik Tonoyan, Valeri Hayrapetyan and Arsen Karapetyan.
Based on the videos spread by the Azerbaijani media, the servicemen were identified and a request was submitted to the Court on behalf of their family members to apply interim measures in order to protect their right to life and the right to not be treated in an inhuman or degrading way.
The European Court has required the Azerbaijani government to submit information about their whereabouts, the conditions in which they are kept and the medical care provided to them. Azerbaijan is required to submit information by November 3, 2020.
Request for Interim Measures Lodged by Azerbaijan Against Armenia Concerning the Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh
The European Court of Human Rights received a request for interim measure lodged by Azerbaijan against Armenia, in which the Azerbaijani Government requested the Court to indicate to the Armenian Government, under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court (interim measures), as follows:
To stop shell and missile attacks, from its territory and the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan, on residential areas, public premises, cemeteries and other civil infrastructure in the territory of Azerbaijan;
To stop military, political, financial and other support to criminal ‘authorities’ on the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan;
To stop sending its armed forces, military equipment and so-called ‘volunteers’ – in fact mercenaries – to the sovereign territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and refrain from inviting its and foreign nationals on the territory of Azerbaijan;
To withdraw its armed forces and militants illegally stationed on the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan;
To refrain from pursuing the policy of hatred towards the Republic of Azerbaijan and its nationals.”
The Court notes that, on September 29, 2020, in the case of Armenia v. Azerbaijan (no. 42521/20), it called upon both Azerbaijan and Armenia to refrain from taking any measures, in particular military actions, which might entail breaches of the Convention rights of the civilian population, including putting their life and health at risk. It also called upon both parties to comply with their engagements under the Convention, notably in respect of Article 2 (right to life) and Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment) of the Convention.
Risks to Physical Safety and Undue Restrictions Faced by Journalists Covering the Conflict
The following statement of urgent concern by partner organizations of the Council of Europe Platform [to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists] concerning the risks to physical safety and undue restrictions faced by journalists covering the conflict in Nagorno Karabakh:
We undersigned partner organisations of the Council of Europe Platform for the promotion of journalism and the safety of journalists express our urgent and deep concern about the ongoing risks of injury and harm to media workers reporting on the armed conflict inside Nagorno Karabakh. We are also concerned that arbitrary restrictions imposed by state authorities engaged in the conflict represent undue interference in the ability of journalists to perform their important role of informing the public through free and independent reporting.
We therefore remind the authorities of Azerbaijan and Armenia of the obligations they have undertaken and the guarantees they have made regarding the protection of journalists in situations of conflict and tension, in accordance with International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law. These commitments are set out in the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe’s Recommendation (96) 4 and in UN Security Council Resolutions 1738 and 2222 ; in particular:
- Journalists and other media workers operating in areas of armed conflict must be treated and protected as civilians, and allowed to perform their work independently and without undue interference. Attacks intentionally targeting journalists, as civilians, constitute war crimes. All states should do their utmost to end impunity for such criminal acts. States engaged in armed conflict should instruct their military and police forces to give necessary and reasonable assistance to journalists when they so request. They should disseminate the relevant instructions to their military and civilian authorities to make them aware of all these obligations.
- States should facilitate the access of journalists and their equipment to the territory concerned by providing the necessary documentation and permissions. They should refrain from taking any restrictive measures against journalists, such as denial, withdrawal of accreditation or expulsion, on account of their exercise of their duties or the content of their reports. States should apply these provisions in a non-discriminatory and non-arbitrary manner in their dealings with journalists, whether foreign or local.
- In situations of conflict and tension the free and unhindered exercise of journalism is especially important in order to safeguard the right of the general public and of individuals to be informed and to be able to evaluate the actions of public authorities. We also urge media and journalists’ organisations to take all possible preventive and protection measures for the physical safety of journalists; and to provide them with relevant practical information and training before undertaking dangerous missions in situations of conflict and tension.
Association of European Journalists (AEJ)
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
European Broadcasting Union (EBU)
European Centre for Press and Media Freedom
European Federation of journalists (EFJ)
Index on Censorship
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
International Press Institute (IPI)
Reporters without Borders (RSF)
Rory Peck Trust (RPT)
EU Statement on Attacks Targeting Civilians
The following statement was issued by the EU Spokesperson on recent attacks targeting civilians:
The European Union finds it unacceptable that, after three agreements brokered by Russia, France and the United States on a ceasefire, the fighting in and around Nagorno-Karabakh still continues and there are more and more reports of civilians being targeted.
The European Union reminds the sides to the conflict of their obligations to protect civilian lives under international humanitarian law. The European Union urges the sides to engage in substantive negotiations on a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict without delay, as last agreed in Washington on October 25.
ICRC Strongly Condemns Latest Surge in Violence as Civilian Casualties Mount
Statement by Martin Schüepp, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Eurasia Regional Director, in Geneva.
“Alongside thousands of civilians, the ICRC witnessed intense shelling in urban areas on both sides of the front line today, leading to death, destruction, injuries and desolation. This is unacceptable. Tragically, a volunteer from the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society, a father of two, was killed in the shelling. Two other volunteers were injured. The ICRC offers its most heartfelt condolences to the family of the volunteer and to the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society.
“These latest exchanges signal that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict risks spiraling out of control. It is civilians across the region who are suffering the consequences. Civilian lives are being lost at an alarming rate and people are also suffering life-changing injuries. Significant damage has also been inflicted on civilian infrastructure, including medical facilities.
“Since the onset of the escalation at the end of September, the ICRC has urged the sides to take all feasible measures to protect and spare civilians and civilian infrastructure like hospitals, schools, markets and cultural property. These are not voluntary gestures. These are obligations under international humanitarian law.
“The ICRC is in contact with the sides in bilateral, confidential dialogue to remind them of their obligations under international humanitarian law. The appalling scenes that we are seeing cannot continue.”