Western Azerbaijan Community calls on UN to help facilitate return of Azerbaijanis to Armenia

Politics Materials 8 April 2023 12:17 (UTC +04:00)

BAKU, Azerbaijan, April 8. The Western Azerbaijan Community sent a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, requesting him to send of a special UN mission to Armenia for launching the process of safe and dignified return of Azerbaijanis expelled from this country, Trend reports.

“We are writing this letter to cordially request you to send a mission to Armenia to facilitate the peaceful, safe and dignified return of Azerbaijanis expelled from Armenia. Our organization, which was established in 1989, deals with protection of the rights of Azerbaijanis, who were expelled from Armenia,” the letter said.

According to the letter, the expelling of Azerbaijanis from the current territory of Armenia, where they once constituted an absolute majority, was completed in 1991.

“As a result of the ethnic cleansing, not a single Azerbaijani is left in Armenia. Azerbaijani historical and cultural heritage, including mosques and graveyards in Armenia, were destroyed on a large scale, and all Azerbaijani toponyms were changed,” the letter noted.

Besides, according to the letter, expelling Azerbaijanis from Armenia is an unprecedented injustice given its political, legal, and humanitarian dimensions.

“We would like this injustice to be fixed. Based on the right to return enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and other important international acts, we aspire to return to our homes in safety and with dignity,” the letter further said. “We have developed and published our concept for a peaceful, safe and dignified return, which was circulated as official documents of the UN Security Council, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council under reference numbers A/77/801-S/2023/134 and E/2023/53 respectively.”

As with other similar situations, enabling the voluntary, safe and dignified return of Azerbaijanis expelled from Armenia, requires substantial international input, the letter also noted.

“To begin with, the return is best ensured when it occurs within proper legal arrangements. The return process will require appropriate security, humanitarian, and socio-economic assistance from the international community,” the letter explained. “International peacekeeping, monitoring, accountability, intervention and other necessary activities are needed to prevent a renewed expelling, discrimination and harm to the returned population.”

According to the document, appropriate reconstruction and reconciliation measures under international supervision will also be required to ensure the sustainable rehabilitation and re-integration of the returnees.

“We would like to reiterate that our lawful demand from Armenia to ensure our right to a safe and dignified return may not be misinterpreted as detrimental to the territorial integrity or sovereignty of Armenia,” the document said. “In a bid to achieve justice and reconciliation based on human rights, we reached out directly to the Government of Armenia with a request to start dialogue. We believe in human rights and the equality of human beings before the law.”

As the document pointed out, ignoring the rights of Azerbaijanis from Armenia is the perpetuation of injustice, which does not help the maintenance of international peace and security.

“Therefore, we kindly request you to support our cause with your good offices as the UN Secretary-General, and send a UN interagency mission to Armenia, which could perform the following tasks:

- to assess the overall situation and identify steps for the creation of conditions that are conducive to voluntary return in safety and with dignity;

- to identify needs for the repatriation process in terms of international humanitarian assistance, and long-term rehabilitation, reconstruction and reintegration programs;

- to identify legislative and executive measures that Armenia has to implement to ensure the rights, liberties and security of Azerbaijani returnees, and their re-integration, as well as steps required to achieve reconciliation;

- to assess the state of Azerbaijani cultural heritage and identify steps required to restore the damaged and obliterated pieces of heritage;

- to carry out an inventory of illegally seized property belonging to Azerbaijanis;

- to gather information on the impact of the conflict on the rights of ethnic Azerbaijanis, who were forced to flee their homes in Armenia;

- to devise and implement Confidence Building Measures on, including but not limited to, enabling the expelled Azerbaijani inhabitants of Armenia to visit their homes, cemeteries, sacred places and cultural heritage in this country;

- to conduct a technical field assessment of the security situation with a view to a possible international security role in support of the repatriation.

“As the interested party, we remain ready to interact with the UN in carrying out activities to ensure the right to return of Azerbaijanis expelled from Armenia, and thereby help maintenance of justice, peace and security in the region,” the letter said.

Previously, the Western Azerbaijan Community sent a letter to UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay in connection with the destruction of Azerbaijani cultural heritage in Armenia.