Montpellier lawyers at the bedside of Armenia, martyred by Azerbaijan

The Bar of Montpellier awarded a human rights prize to Armenian lawyers. The opportunity to see on the spot the misdeeds of the offensive led by the army of Azerbaijan, accused of war crimes.

The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is not new. At the heart of the dispute, the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, claimed by Azerbaijan but which asked for its attachment to Armenia in 1991 because it does not benefit from the recognition of the UN.

An autonomous region, it is regularly the scene of clashes between Armenians, who rely on Russia, their military partner, and Azerbaijanis, supported by Turkey.

Rapes and torture of soldiers, villages destroyed

A new wave of clashes erupted in September, leaving more than 300 dead on both sides and thousands of civilians displaced. A brutal multidirectional offensive by the army of Azerbaijan, particularly violent for the Armenian population, as a delegation of lawyers from the Bar of Montpellier was able to observe on the ground.

“We have awarded our Jean-Claude Barral Human Rights Prize this year to several Armenian jurists and lawyers who have worked to expose human rights abuses”, explains Nicolas Bedel de Buzareingues, the President of the Bar, who therefore led this delegation on site for the award ceremony and the visit of disaster areas in the role of observers. Among the award-winning personalities, Artak Zeynalyan, who was a surgeon, lawyer, minister and lost a leg in combat.

“There have been cases of torture and rape of Armenian soldiers with quite unbearable videos in support”testifies Nicolas Bedel, also quite shaken by the state of the villages on the front line, mainly in the northeast, in the Sotk region: “A village school was bombed as well as many houses. People are surviving in abominable conditions. All the canned goods they had prepared have exploded and one wonders how they will be able to survive the very harsh winter in these regions. There is a real need for help.”

Tenants evicted to make room for Russian expats

The Bar of Montpellier, which had already launched an appeal to defend the Armenian prisoners, plans to support a procedure before the European Court of Human Rights.

Nicolas Bedel still evokes the unexpected and disastrous consequences of the war in Ukraine on the real estate market in Yerevan: “Many Russians fleeing their country arrive in Armenia with a lot of money and many landlords transfer their Armenian tenants to rent much more expensively to Russians, which increases the number of homeless people and beggars in the capital.”

Without wishing to slip into the political arena, the Bâtonnier wonders about the lack of media repercussions of this situation: “Is it because we buy energy from Azerbaijan? On another scale, the same thing is happening as in Ukraine.”

In a forum in the “World”, intellectuals and politicians were already alarmed, at the beginning of October, by Europe’s passivity in the face of Azerbaijan’s offensive. Ironically, it is Vladimir Putin who has just played the champions of a fragile peace by bringing the two camps together. History to keep the hand in the region.

Putin instigator of a truce

A summit was held Monday in Sochi, in southwestern Russia, a month after border clashes that left 286 dead, the heaviest toll since a 2020 war for control of Nagorny-Karabakh. Around Vladimir Putin, Armenia and Azerbaijan have pledged “not to use force” to find a solution to their conflict around the enclave of Nagorny-Karabakh. The opportunity for Moscow to reaffirm its influence in the Caucasus.

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