April 30 marked the 30th
year of the Operation Ring of the forced displacement of Armenian settlements
in Artsakh by the Azerbaijani forces.
Operation Ring, during which
the displacement of the Armenian settlements of Artsakh, and the large-scale atrocities
against Armenians by the Azerbaijani forces occurred, started in April 1991 and
lasted until August.
The Azerbaijani Ministry of Internal
Affairs’ Special Purpose Police Unit was the primary perpetrator, which was
supported by the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR
and the 4th Army Subdivision.
Although those operations
were preceded by the numerous steps Azerbaijani authorities aimed at emptying
Artsakh of Armenians, as well as statements of Azerbaijani officials on ethnic
cleansing, Operation Ring itself started on March 25, 1991. On that day, the
Azerbaijani Special Purpose Police Units carried out regular shelling against the
Getashen and Martunashen villages.
Before the invasion, the
Azerbaijani forces isolated the targeted villages. On April 16, the Shahumyan
Province was subjected to a power blackout, the telephone connection was cut
off, and regular helicopter flights from Yerevan to Shahumyan were banned.
On April 30, Getashen and
Martunashen villages were shelled, during which tanks, combat helicopters, and artillery
were used against the peaceful Armenian population.
Following the encircling the
Armenian villages of Artsakh by the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal
Affairs of the USSR and the Soviet Army, the Azerbaijani Special Purpose Police
Units and the Special Purpose Militia Unit invaded the villages under the
pretense of carrying out “passport regime control”.
In reality, killings of
ethnic Armenians, motivated by ethnic hatred, tortures and other atrocities
took place, due to which people involuntarily left their homes.
As a result of this
operation, more than two dozen villages was emptied off Armenians, nearly
10,000 people were displaced and more than a 100 were killed. Moreover, as a
result of the Operation Ring, 100 persons were taken hostage, and the fate of
many is still unknown
The Operation Ring is one of
the examples of Azerbaijan's policy of Armenophobia and ethnic cleansing.
In the following years, the
state policy of Armenophobia and propaganda of hostility towards Armenians
underwent new developments, and encouraging the killings of Armenians was its
The facts confirm that the
mentioned atrocities against Armenians were carried out exclusively on the basis
of ethnicity; and had the intention of destruction and deprivation of homeland.
The issue is about the
Azerbaijani policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide, which was based on state-supported
Armenophobia against Armenians.
confirm that in the following years, the state policy of Armenophobia and propaganda
of hostility towards Armenians underwent new developments. Killings of
Armenians, and the torturing of a person of Armenian ethnicity was openly
encouraged by the Azerbaijani authorities.
The concrete evidence of this
is the brutal murder of the Armenian officer Gurgen Margaryan by an Azerbaijani
Army officer, Ramil Safarov, in his hotel room while he was asleep in February 2004,
during an international training course in Budapest. He was later extradited to
Azerbaijan and thereafter, not only was he pardoned, but he also glorified at the highest levels.
In its 2020 judgement in the
case of “Makuchyan and Minasyan v. Azerbaijan and Hungary” (application
no. 17247/13), the European Court of Human
Rights recorded that Ramil Safarov's pardon, the granting of benefits, the
encouragement at the highest state level, and glorification among the entire
Azerbaijani society were ethically motivated. According to the ECtHR, this is
evidenced from the statements of the high-ranking officials expressing their
support for the conduct.
During the 2016 April and
2020 September-November wars against the population of Artsakh, the Office of
the Human Rights Defender recorded atrocities on the basis of ethnicity by the
Azerbaijani armed forces, including brutal killings, tortures, and humiliation
of the dead bodies of the Armenian civilians and servicemen.
All these was carried out by
the Azerbaijani Armed Forces and the involved mercenaries, who were filming video
materials and, and obviously convinced of their impunity, were cynically
demonstrating with their faces uncovered, how for example they were beheading an
Armenian, cutting off their ear or desecrating their body.
The Armenophobia and
encouragement of killings of Armenians preceded those wars and continued with
even greater aggression in parallel with them. On that matter, there also are
reports based on objective evidences.
The Armenophobia, and the
state policy of causing suffering to the Armenian society, playing upon the
feelings, and causing tension continues to this day in Azerbaijan. This is
clearly evidenced by the capture of Armenian civilians and servicemen and the
refusal to return them for artificial reasons, the constant politicization of
the issue and making it a subject of bargaining.
Unfortunately, the very
disproportionate response of the international community, and especially those
of the international organizations with a human rights protection mandate to
the described atrocities, and in many cases simply their silence, only contributed
to fact that not only did the mentioned atrocities and Armenophobia were not
excluded, but they deepened and received even more atrocious forms.
The Human Rights Defender of
Armenia, on behalf of themselves and their entire Office, pays tribute to the memory of the innocent victims of the
Operation Ring and specifically emphasizes that the impunity for
violations of rights and crimes breeds new, graver violations and serious
The Office of the Human
Rights Defender of Armenia will disseminate this statement to the relevant
Mr. Arman Tatoyan
The Human Rights Defender of Armenia