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Lemkin Institute’s Urgent Appeal Against Unjust 15-Year Sentence for Vagif Khachatryan by Azerbaijan

Lemkin Institute’s Urgent Appeal Against Unjust 15-Year Sentence for Vagif Khachatryan by Azerbaijan

The Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention has issued a fervent condemnation in response to the 15-year prison sentence handed down to Mr. Vagif Khachatryan by the Republic of Azerbaijan on November 7, 2023. Expressing grave concern over the situation, the institute urges the international community to intervene, calling for the immediate release of all Armenian individuals under Azerbaijan's jurisdiction and warning against actions that may exacerbate the plight of victims of the Artsakh genocide or embolden Azerbaijan to commit further unlawful acts of aggression.

Mr. Khachatryan, a resident of the Republic of Artsakh, was abducted at the Hakari Bridge checkpoint on July 29, 2023, while being evacuated for urgent medical treatment by the International Committee of the Red Cross. This checkpoint, established by Azerbaijan in the Lachin Corridor, followed an illegal blockade imposed in December 2022, severely impacting the inhabitants of Artsakh and leading to what has been described as a genocidal situation by former International Criminal Court prosecutor Mr. Luis Moreno Ocampo.

The kidnapping of Mr. Khachatryan occurred prior to Azerbaijan's military aggression against Artsakh in September 2023, resulting in mass atrocities and the forced displacement of almost the entire indigenous Armenian population to neighboring Armenia. The institute firmly characterizes these events as constituting a comprehensive genocide of an ancient, continuous indigenous civilization.

Despite Mr. Khachatryan's denial of the war crime allegations leveled against him by Azerbaijani authorities, supported by a lack of independent evidence, he was put on trial within Azerbaijan's judicial system. Concerns have been raised regarding due process violations, intentional mistranslations of his statements, and apprehensions about his mistreatment and deteriorating health while in custody.

Reports indicate that due to Azerbaijani law, Mr. Khachatryan, being over 65 years old, cannot be sentenced to life imprisonment. Instead, he faces an initial five-year term in prison followed by ten years in a high-security correctional facility. The Lemkin Institute vehemently denounces this legal discourse, viewing it as a gross miscarriage of justice, particularly considering Mr. Khachatryan's age and health condition, which necessitated urgent medical evacuation.

Highlighting the ongoing unlawful imprisonment of other Armenian officials and civilians, the institute emphasizes Azerbaijan's disregard for international humanitarian and human rights laws. It calls upon the international community to not turn a blind eye to these atrocities and to take decisive action to secure the release of Armenian individuals in Azerbaijan's custody, preventing further suffering and unlawful acts by the Azerbaijani regime.

The Lemkin Institute reiterates the urgency for global intervention, reminding the world of the atrocities in the Nagorno-Karabakh region and the looming threat posed by Azerbaijan's potential invasion of the Republic of Armenia. It urges concerted efforts to pressure President Aliyev's regime to release Armenian detainees and refrain from actions that exacerbate the suffering of victims of the Artsakh genocide or encourage further illegal aggression.

The Lemkin Institute remains resolute in its pursuit of justice, urging the international community to stand against the gross violations of human rights and ensure accountability for the victims of these egregious acts.


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