US State Department confirms Turkish participation in Nagorno-Karabakh war, highlights Azerbaijani war crimes
A report from the US Department of State released 30 March 2021 has confirmed the role of Turkey in supporting Azerbaijan’s war against ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices also highlight war crimes committed by Azerbaijan during the conflict, including military strikes against civilian targets and the torture and abuse of Armenian prisoners.
The report states that Azerbaijan’s invasion of Nagorno-Karabakh was conducted “with Turkish support”.
A separate resolution of the European Parliament, published 11 March, condemned Turkey’s action of sending Syrian mercenaries to fight for Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Katabkah, “in violation of international law”.
After the conflict Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared, “The crescent and star embellish the skies of Karabakh now thanks to the efforts of our Azerbaijani brothers and sisters … The Azerbaijani flag flies proudly over Nagorno-Karabakh as a symbol of our martyrs’ valour.”
Turkey’s role in the conflict and the accounts of Azerbaijani brutality and abuse have raised fears about the possibility of a new Armenian genocide.
Nagorno-Karabakh (mountainous Karabakh) is part of the historic homeland of the Armenian people, who around 301 AD became the first Christian nation, and the region still contains many ancient churches and monasteries. Karabakh was placed within Azerbaijan by the USSR in 1923.
Azerbaijan war crimes described as “credible” and “significant”
The US Department of State also cites “significant human rights issues” perpetrated by Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh, including “unlawful killings, civilian casualties, and inhuman treatment”.
These include in Stepanakert the use of aerial bombardment, artillery and cluster munitions against civilian targets such as medical centres and ambulances, gas and electricity plants, sources of food and water, and “schools and pre-schools”.
In October 2020 videos appeared showing Azerbaijani soldiers mocking and then killing two Armenian civilians in the town of Hadrut, later identified as 25-year-old Yuriy Adamyan and 73-year-old Benik Hakobyan.
Following the closure of borders between Azerbaijan and Armenia in 1991, the report notes, “inflammatory rhetoric” became more common. By 2020, “an entire generation had grown up listening to hate speech against Armenians”.
In March 2021 the Armenian National Commission for the UNESCO condemned the alleged demolition of a church building in Mekhakavan, Nagorno-Karabakh, describing it as “another act of cultural crime by Azerbaijan”.