Freedom House Says Baku Committed Ethnic Cleansing in Artsakh

Urges International Criminal Court to Take Action

Freedom House on Monday released a special report, which says Azerbaijan’s actions in and around Artsakh since the 2020 war amount to ethnic cleansing and urged the International Criminal Court to study those violations and take action.

“The documented actions of Azerbaijan meet the criteria for ethnic cleansing as understood in the context of the former Yugoslavia conflict,” Freedom House concluded in the report titled “Why are there no Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh?”

The detailed report by the U.S. based watchdog also concluded that Azerbaijan’s actions qualify as crimes against humanity and war crimes under the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court.

“There is substantial evidence of violations of the rights to life, health, food, freedom of movement, adequate standards of living, liberty and personal integrity, the right to be free from torture and other ill-treatment, right to a fair trial, education, property, as well as cultural rights,” the report said.

Citing its findings and “lack of prosecution on the domestic level in Azerbaijan,” Freedom House urged “international legal scrutiny and accountability” and recommends the case be referred to the ICC in The Hague for a full investigation and possible prosecution.

Before the September 2023 attack by Azerbaijan on Artsakh, which led to the forced depopulation of its Armenians, the ICC’s former chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo issued his own report, sounding the alarm of a “genocide in progress” in Artsakh. His testimony in various international fora raised awareness of the ongoing ethnic cleansing campaign against Artsakh, but did not compel the international community to take action to prevent the forced exodus of Artsakh Armenians.

Freedom House said it arrived at its conclusion through an investigation that included more than 330 interviews conducted specifically for the report, according to Andranik Shirinyan, Freedom House’s Armenia country representative, as well as from open-source data, such as satellite imagery and statements made by Azerbaijan’s officials.

The report, prepared jointly by Freedom House and six other non-governmental organizations, marks one of the first times a major international organization has concluded Azerbaijan’s forcible displacement of nearly all of Artsakh’s roughly 100,000 Armenians in September 2023 constitutes an act of ethnic cleansing.

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