The Council of Europe on Monday called on Azerbaijan to respect the right of those who fled Nagorno-Karabakh, the separatist enclave recently recaptured by Baku, to "return home in safety and dignity".
“I urge the Azerbaijani government to ensure the safety and respect for the human rights of ethnic Armenians who remain in the Karabakh region, including their rights to equal treatment and to be protected from violence, intimidation and hatred,” Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic said in a statement.
"Vulnerable groups, such as the injured or those in need of care, the elderly, women and children, must be particularly protected. The authorities should also ensure that the rights of those who have left are fully respected , including the right to return home in safety and dignity,” added the Commissioner, who will “soon” visit Armenia.
Taking note of the recent deployment of the United Nations mission in the region, Ms. Mijatovic also considered it "crucial to guarantee free and unhindered access" for humanitarians and international human rights missions "to all areas and to all people affected by the current circumstances".
After a lightning offensive by Azerbaijani forces last month during which nearly 600 people died, almost the entire Armenian population fled the self-proclaimed republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, which announced its dissolution on January 1, 2024.
After the end of the Russian Empire, this mountainous region populated mainly by Armenians, who consider it ancestral, became part of Azerbaijan. It unilaterally proclaimed its independence in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union, with the support of Armenia.
Nagorno-Karabakh separatists have opposed Baku for more than three decades, notably during two wars between 1988 and 1994 and in the fall of 2020. The international community has never recognized the self-proclaimed republic
Writing (with AFP)