Repeated Armenian attacks against Azerbaijani civilians have drawn condemnation from the international community, and must continue to do so.
On Sept. 27, 2020, Armenian forces attacked Azerbaijani military positions and densely populated residential areas along the entire perimeter of the front line amid tensions in the Nagorno-Karabakh zone, leading to a military response from Azerbaijan.
On Oct. 9, an agreement for a humanitarian cease-fire was reached in Moscow, at a meeting of the two countries’ foreign ministers mediated by Russia. The purpose of the cease-fire was to exchange the remains of those killed in the fighting, as well as prisoners of war. At the meeting, it was also agreed to begin negotiations under the mediation of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.
However, approximately 15 minutes after the cease-fire entered into effect on Oct. 10, Armenia resumed its attacks on Azerbaijani positions.
On Oct. 11, Armenia launched missiles at the city of Ganja, the second most populated city in Azerbaijan. As a result, 10 civilians were killed and more than 30 seriously wounded. Extensive damage was also inflicted upon civilian areas.
On Oct. 15, Armenia forces shelled the Tartar Reyon region with heavy artillery, once again targeting civilians. Soldiers fired on a graveyard in the area during a funeral, killing four civilians and leaving five wounded.
On Oct. 17, Armenian soldiers again attacked Ganja with ballistic missiles, killing 12 civilians and leaving more than 40 people injured.
In total, these attacks on Ganja, Barda, Tartar and other cities and areas claimed 91 Azerbaijani civilians, injured 371 and destroyed more than 2800 residential buildings.
International organizations denounced the attacks by Armenian forces. On Oct. 18, the UN secretary-general condemned “all attacks on populated areas” in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh zone. In a statement released by his spokesperson, António Guterres described the “tragic loss of civilian lives, including children, from the latest reported strike on Oct. 16” on Ganja as “totally unacceptable.” On the same day, the EU said it “deplored” the attacks, calling on all parties to stop the violence.
However, on Oct. 27, Armenia again targeted civilians in Barda district, using illegal cluster munitions. Four civilians, including a child, were killed, and 14 civilians, including women children, were seriously injured.
The next day, Armenian forces again targeted Barda, killing 22 civilians and leaving 70 people seriously injured.
All these incidents clearly represent blatant violations of the Moscow joint statement, not to mention reaffirmed commitments from mediation efforts in Paris on Oct. 18 and Washington on Oct. 24. This is yet another demonstration of wilful disregard by Armenia of its commitments and open disrespect to tireless endeavors of international mediators.
By attacking Azerbaijani residential areas and civilians during the formally declared humanitarian cease-fire, and on the eve of the Geneva meeting of the foreign ministers of both states with the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, Armenia clearly aims to undermine the negotiations, increase tensions and involve third parties in the conflict.
Remaining silent about the barbaric acts of Armenia and the impunity of those who have committed these crimes against Azerbaijan’s population will only incite the perpetrators to commit further atrocities.
The international community should take necessary steps to stop Armenia from violating international law, purposefully killing civilians, and demand that it withdraw its armed forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
• Shahin Abdullayev is Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia.