Occupied Hadrut an undeniable proof of Azerbaijan’s policy of hatred and ethnic cleansing against Armenians, Artsakh Ombudsman says

Occupied Hadrut is an undeniable proof of Azerbaijan’s policy of hatred and ethnic cleansing against Armenians, Artsakh’s Human Rights Defender Gegham Stepanyan said in a statement on the anniversary of the occupation of Hadrut.

“The entire Hadrut region of the Republic of Artsakh, one of the most important settlements with a permanent Armenian population, which has been inhabited by Armenians for centuries as documented in many historical sources and materials, has been under Azerbaijani occupation for a year,” the Ombudsman said.

He informed that the settlements that make up the Hadrut region of the Artsakh Republic were in Soviet times part of the Hadrut region of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, where more than 90 percent of the 15,000 population were Armenians, according to the 1979 census.

“As a result of the Azerbaijani-Turkish aggression against the population of Artsakh on September 27, 2020, the Armenian population of the town of Hadrut and the homonymous region was completely subjected to ethnic cleansing. From the very first day of the aggression, the civilian population, civilian infrastructures, and structures of the humanitarian significance of Hadrut were deliberately and indiscriminately targeted by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces,” Gegham Stepanyan added.

“32 civilians from the Hadrut Region were killed as a result of the missile attacks, torture, and torment by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, including 73-year-old Benik Hakobyan and 25-year-old Yuri Adamyan, who were demonstratively killed in Hadrut Square after being captured by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces,” he noted.

The Ombudsman said that “due to the ongoing occupation, 14 000 residents of the region were displaced from their homes, they lost their movable and immovable property, work, and the whole stuff. 48 Armenian settlements have been cleansed of the Armenian presence and the houses and property belonging to the Armenians have been vandalized and looted.”

“Before the Azerbaijani occupation, there were 6 kindergartens and 26 schools in the region with 2030 students now deprived of their right to education as a result of displacement. Due to the ethnic cleansing of the Armenian population of Hadrut, tangible and intangible cultural values created by the Armenians are endangered. More than 500 significant historical and cultural monuments – churches, monasteries, khachkars, sanctuaries, are under immediate threat of extinction,” Gegham Stepanyan stated.

“Azerbaijani authorities are desecrating the spiritual and cultural values created by the indigenous Armenian population of the region at the highest level, as evidenced by the video widely spread on social networks in which the president of Azerbaijan demonstratively commands to remove the Armenian inscriptions from the church in Tsakuri village,” he noted.

“Research by Armenian and international organizations for the protection of cultural values prove that all the Armenian cemeteries in all settlements of Hadrut are being demolished and destroyed and the gravestones are used as a building material for roads. Due to the ethnic cleansing of the Armenian population, community life and traditions have been disrupted in all settlements of the region, and as a result of the dispersal of the displaced population, the Hadrut dialect, which is unique among the Armenian dialects is endangered, “Stepanyan added.

Unfortunately, he said, even a year after the occupation, the reports and numerous calls on large-scale violations of the rights of the Armenian population of Hadrut and other occupied communities of Artsakh, have not yet received proper attention and assessment by the international structures, individual states, and human rights organizations.

“The international community has a direct obligation and responsibility to ensure the protection of the rights of the Armenian population and guarantee their return to their native lands,” the Ombudsman stated.

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