The following article was contributed by the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Seoul to The Korea Post for publication.—Ed.
As a result of search operation and investigative measures, new mass graves have been identified in the Edilli village of the Khojavend district of Azerbaijan and in the territory of the Fuzuli city on the basis of the testimonies by the eye-witnesses. The remains, which presumably belong to 6 or 7 Azerbaijanis missing since early 1990s, have been exhumed and collected by the investigation team for the purpose of subsequent medical examination and genetic tests (photo evidence is attached herewith).
The Azerbaijani civilians and servicemen who managed to survive Armenian captivity confirmed in their testimonies that bodies of dozens of Azerbaijanis had been transferred in military trucks and buried in mass graves in mentioned areas after being subjected to torture, degrading and other inhumane treatment, and subsequent arbitrary and extrajudicial killings.
On the basis of eye-witness testimonies and other investigative materials, the relevant authorities presume that the found remains represent only a small portion of those who had been buried in the said areas, and consequently search operations are currently underway to locate the other burial places.
The fact that Azerbaijani prisoners of war and civilian captives have themselves been forced to the transfer and mass burial of the bodies itself speaks of the gravity and brutality of crimes committed by the armed forces of Armenia, its agents and subordinate. Along with cruel treatment and torture leading to death of dozens of prisoners of war and civilian hostages, the perpetrators also committed other serious war crimes by not ensuring that the dead were interred honourably, their graves were respected and properly maintained and marked as stipulated by the international humanitarian law.
Amidst such growing evidence, the perpetrators continue to enjoy impunity as Armenia has thus far failed to take any step towards investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by its agents and subordinates. It is equally disturbing that despite consistent calls of Azerbaijan and series of discussions with the Armenian side, including at the highest level, this country tries to escape from cooperation in providing information about the locations of burial sites, mass graves or any similar information that would help bring clarity to the whereabouts of the Azerbaijani missing persons.
Given the extreme importance of addressing the issue of missing persons for the rule of law, justice, as well as post-conflict normalization and reconciliation, strong engagement of the international community is therefore vital.
Bringing clarity to the whereabouts of all missing persons and full accountability for grave international humanitarian law violations committed against them are essential elements of achieving lasting reconciliation after bloody conflict.
Ensuring justice is not only retributive, but also preventive, serving to the non-repetition of similar wrongdoings and helping both countries and their people live in peaceful and stable neighbourhood.
With the end of the conflict, it is high time for Armenia to honour its obligations under international humanitarian law and take practical steps to shed light on dark pages of its armed aggression against Azerbaijan and cooperate with a view eliminating its harsh consequences.
Proceeding from this understanding, the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan appeals to international community with the request of urging Armenia to share all information at its disposal necessary for bringing clarity to the fates of thousands of persons missing since early 1990s. Consistent steps in this direction are not only necessary in terms of the shared responsibility for rule of law and justice, but also for taking forward the agenda of post-conflict normalization in the region.