Members of European Parliament Urge Azerbaijan to Stop Using Human Shields

BRUSSELS, Belgium—Members of European Parliament (MEP) Marek Jurek (Poland) and Costas Mavrides (Cyprus) have urged Azerbaijan to stop using its own civilian population as human shields and to introduce an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) sponsored independent investigative mechanism at the Artsakh-Azerbaijan Line of Contact (LoC).

“On July 4, 2017 Azerbaijani armed forces violated the cease-fire regime in the contact line. Azerbaijan had installed a multiple rocket launcher system in an inhabited village, thus using its own civilian population as a human shield. The crossfire resulted in a tragic loss of two civilians on the Azerbaijani side. We deplore the loss of two innocent lives and emphasize that this tragedy, as well as other clashes between the armed forced could have certainly been avoided, if Azerbaijan agreed to install an independent investigative mechanism to determine which side exactly violates the cease-fire. The OSCE Minsk-Group has proposed this on several occasions. The Armenian side has agreed to install this mechanism. Unfortunately, official Azerbaijan continues to reject it”, the MEPs said in a statement, made public by Yerevan-based Armenpress news agency.

The lawmakers underscored that the investigative mechanism could have helped avoid the 2016 April War, when Azerbaijan shelled Armenian villages. Twelve-year-old Vaghinak Grigoryan, who was on his way to school, was one of last April’s victims.

“The bodies of an elderly 90-year-old couple in the village of Talish, were brutally mutilated by the Azerbaijani forces, their ears were cut off. Since April 2016 the Azerbaijan armed forces have committed war crimes, including an ISIS-style beheading of an Armenian soldier Karam Sloyan. Pictures of the head were then posted on the social media by the Azerbaijani forces as a trophy and the cruel murder was praised as a heroic act. These barbaric acts are unfortunately an indirect consequence of Armenophobia in Azerbaijan, nurtured from the highest levels and acts, such as elevating Ramil Safarov, who killed an Armenian colleague in his sleep with an ax in Budapest, to a national hero by the current Government of Azerbaijan”, the statement says.

Marek Jurek and Costas Mavrides mentioned that the losses on both sides are tragic and they must absolutely be prevented.

“It is unacceptable to use a population as a human shield while shelling other inhabited areas and then abuse photos for propaganda purposes. An investigative mechanism must be immediately installed. We herewith call on Azerbaijan to stop using its own population as a human shield and install the OSCE independent investigative mechanism which would create favorable conditions for trust and negotiations”, the MEPs said.

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