BAKU, Azerbaijan, April 11. A group of women from Western Azerbaijan sent an appeal to Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, Trend reports.
In the appeal, they informed her of the ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity, and requested the practical support by the European Commission for the safe and dignified return of Azerbaijanis to their homes, while taking into account the specific needs of women and children.
The appeal, which was signed by women intellectuals and young female students from Western Azerbaijan, states the following:
“On behalf of Azerbaijani women and girls expelled from Armenia, we are writing to bring our ongoing suffering to your attention. Our organization, the Western Azerbaijan Community established in 1989, is dedicated to defending the rights of Azerbaijanis who have been forced to flee their homes in Armenia, and enabling their safe and dignified return.
As a result of the total ethnic cleansing committed by Armenia against Azerbaijanis in that country, there is not a single Azerbaijani left in Armenia. This has had a devastating effect on our community, particularly on women and girls, who have suffered greatly as a result of the expulsion.
We would like to highlight that the Western Azerbaijan Community places a specific emphasis on the women, peace and security agenda in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 1325. Our organization has developed the Concept of Return, in which the interests of women, children and vulnerable social groups are considered as the main priority, and the internationally accepted progressive concepts and standards in this field, including the women, peace and security agenda, are envisaged to play a central role in the return process.
We firmly believe that the empowerment of women is essential to creating a peaceful and stable society, and we are committed to promoting this agenda. Accordingly, we envisage that women will be actively involved in the repatriation and reintegration process to ensure that the process is sustainable and effective.
We should also highlight that in addition to the ethnic cleansing against Azerbaijanis, Armenia has systematically destroyed Azerbaijani cultural heritage in Armenia. The obliteration of the cultural and religious sites, including mosques, graveyards and other sacred places has not only caused immense pain and suffering to Azerbaijanis but also grossly violates international humanitarian and human rights law. Additionally, during the past three decades, Armenia has refused to allow Azerbaijanis to visit their cemeteries, cultural heritage, and sacred places, despite the fact that such visits are crucial for peace and reconciliation. This inhumane treatment of Azerbaijani cultural heritage and denial of access further exacerbates tensions in the region.
As you may be aware, we have previously written to EU Council President Charles Michel to raise awareness of our organization's work and to seek political support for our efforts to enable the safe and dignified return of expelled Azerbaijanis from Armenia. We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the EU's mediatory role in the normalization of inter-state relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We believe that the issue of safe and dignified return, rehabilitation, reconstruction and reintegration of Azerbaijanis expelled from Armenia should be central to these diplomatic efforts.
It goes without saying that the return process will also require substantial practical support from the international community. We would appreciate relevant practical assistance of the European Commission for our return, particularly for devising and implementation of programs for addressing special needs of Azerbaijani women and girls during their repatriation, rehabilitation and reintegration in Armenia.
Finally, we count on your personal support and understanding, as a woman and mother, of the plight of Azerbaijani women and girls who are suffering as a result of the ethnic cleansing carried out by Armenia.
We believe that with your involvement, we can work towards enabling the safe and dignified return of and thereby ensuring a brighter future for expelled Azerbaijanis, particularly women and girls.”