Azerbaijanis prevent entry of civilians long separated from their families to Artsakh

(Armradio) – The Azerbaijanis posing as “eco-activists” prevented the entry of 27 citizens of Artsakh to Stepanakert on Tuesday, Artsakh’s Ombudsman Gegham Steanyan informs.

On April 4 at about 15:30, 27 civilians, including elderly, children, and people with disabilities, who have been separated from their families for several months, left the city of Goris of the Republic of Armenia for Stepanakert, in accordance with the agreement reached with the Russian side and accompanied by Russian peacekeepers.

“Despite a prearranged agreement, Azerbaijani government agents posing as “eco-activists” blocked the passage of vehicles of the Russian peacekeeping forces carrying civilians near Shushi – a blocked section of the Goris-Stepanakert highway. As a result, citizens stayed in that area for about 5 hours. After fruitless negotiations between the Russian side and the Azerbaijanis, the vehicles returned to Goris,” the Ombudsman said.

According to obtained facts, some Azerbaijanis even broke into one of the cars. During the negotiations, the well-being of four civilians felt unwell, three of them fainted. Accompanied by Russian peacekeepers, they were taken to the Republican Medical Center of Stepanakert. The other 23 civilians returned to Goris.

From the first day of the 114-day blockade, the Azerbaijani side has announced on various platforms that the road is open for the transportation of civilians and cargo, directly questioning not only the valid claims of the Armenian side but also the positions and statements of many international actors, the reality recorded by the ICJ decision of February 22, 2023.

“Today’s incident proves once again the whole essence of the false and fabricated claims of the Azerbaijani leadership, the behavior of obvious and undisguised lying and misleading the international community,” Gegham Stepanyan said.

Moreover, he added, “by allowing the exit of people from Artsakh in various ways, but prohibiting the entry, the Azerbaijani authorities are openly implementing a policy of ethnic cleansing, as Ilham Aliyev once again admitted in his statement on January 10.”

“It has long been obvious that the only reason for the insolent behavior of the Azerbaijani side, the ignorance of the calls of the international community, and the failure to comply with the decision of the International Court of Justice is the created permissiveness, the disdain shown towards the peacekeeping mission and the lack of targeted and practical punitive actions by all interested international actors,” the Human Rights Defender stressed.

“At the moment, hundreds of civilians in the city of Goris and other communities of Armenia are simply deprived of the opportunity to reunite with their families. The Azerbaijani side, taking advantage of the atmosphere of permissiveness, does not cooperate on this matter with the Russian peacekeepers, the International Committee of the Red Cross, or other international institutions,” Stepanyan concluded.

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