By Argam Hambardzumyan,
Today, any legal discourse concerning the Artsakh people and Artsakh itself leads to the “right of peoples to self-determination” and “the principle of territorial integrity” summarized in the UN Charter, while ignoring another document, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the same organization, the UN.
This document was adopted on September 13, 2007, by 143 votes at the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly. It affirms that the indigenous peoples should not be subject to discrimination when excersing their rights (Armenia voted in favor, Azerbaijan abstained from voting). Now, let us examine articles which directly refer to the realization of indigenous rights of the Artsakh people and to the obstacles posed by Azerbaijan to the realisation of those rights.
So, in the preamble of the document, the organization is concerned that in the modern world the indegenous people have been deprived of their human rights and freedoms, along with other consequences (they have been exterminated, deported and dispossessed of their lands, territories and resources), thus preventing them from exercising their right to development in accordance with their own needs and interests.
Countries, who signed the Declaration, recognized the urgent need to respect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples affirmed in treaties, agreements and other constructive
In the preamble of the document the need to demilitarize the lands and territories of indigenous peoples, which would contribute to peace, economic and social progress and development, understanding and friendly relations among nations and peoples of the world, was also emphasized.
According to Article 1 of the document, the indigenous peoples have the right to the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms as recognized by the United Nations.
According to Article 7, indigenous peoples have the collective right to live in freedom, peace and security as distinct peoples and shall not be subjected to any act of genocide or any other act of violence, including forcibly removing children of the group to another group. Although, the example of the Artsakh people showcases that the Azerbaijani authorities are not only unable to ensure fundamental human rights, but they are also the ones who plan and realise mass violations of human rights.
Without going into the details and descriptions, let’s just list out some vivid examples: Sumgait massacres in 1988, Baku massacres in 1918 and 1990, Sushi massacres in 1920, axing of Gurgen Margaryan in Budapest in 2004, atrocities in Talish and Mataghis in 2016 April, etc.
Article 3 stipulates the following: “Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” While Azerbaijan avoids the fair demand of that self-determination.
The Article 5 stipulates that “the Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions, while retaining their right to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State.”
There is no need for extensive professional knowledge to understand that the 70 years of the forceful annexation in the Azerbaijani territory prove that the economic, social and cultural rights were hindered and the fulfillment of political rights were fully forbidden.
Article 10 of the document stipulates: “Indigenous peoples can not be compelled to leave their lands, territories or natural resources. Only resettlement with the free expressed consent of the concerned peoples and with fair consideration of cause is possible; and if possible, by providing a chance to return”.
Whereas the whole process of the Artsakh-Azerbaijan conflict was accompanied by the forced displacement of Armenians, which, the Azerbaijani side justified and presented as a reciprocal process within the context of the Azerbaijani-Armenian relocation.
Meanwhile, it is obvious that the Azeri community was displaced from Armenia after being granted opportunities by the Armenian authorities to move their portable property and to sell their immovables almost without financial loss; even profiting from the sustainable economies created and left behind in Azerbaijan by the forcibly displaced Armenians.
By the way, it is needless to talk about the forced leaving from their lands: a part of the Armenian Artsakh is still under the Azerbaijani occupation.
On the other hand, the overt military operations are aimed at forcing Armenians to leave from their Artsakh settlements․
The Article 22 stipulates that “Particular attention shall be paid to the rights and special needs of indigenous elders, women, youth, children and persons with disabilities in the implementation of this Declaration” and that “states shall take measures, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, to ensure that indigenous women and children enjoy the full protection and guarantees against all forms of violence and discrimination.”
It is appropriate to remember here the 2016 April war, when the Azerbaijani criminals were hitting the 12 year old child with projectile, invading the Armenian village and cutting the ears of elders, photographing these actions and making them public, they were targeting the schools and hospitals during the time of operation when many kids were realizing their right to education. Are the bloodthirsty authorities trained to commit such crimes against humanity able to guarantee security for women, elders and children?
According to Article 26, “Indigenous peoples have the inalienable right over the lands, territories and resources which they have historically owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired” And what are the Azerbaijani aggression and ungrounded claims aimed at if not against the realization of this right of Armenians of Artsakh? These claims do not have any other reasonable explanations than the morbid principles.
Article 30 of the document is interesting. According to it “Military activities shall not take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples, unless justified by a relevant public interest or otherwise freely agreed with or requested by the indigenous peoples concerned.” It is obvious that any military operation in the territory of Artsakh did not emanate from the public interest of the Armenians of Artsakh who continually are absolute majority or is a result of a fair demand of the Armenians of Artsakh or even the Azeris ever lived in Artsakh.
Article 39 defines that “Indigenous peoples have the right of access to financial and technical assistance from States and through international cooperation, for the enjoyment of the rights contained in this Declaration.”
It is enough to remember here the Azerbaijanian expanding Black list when any country provides humanitarian, financial or political support to Artsakh.
To conclude, it should be noted that Azerbaijan is “gifted” to interpret any international document in its own way, for such cases Article 45 and 46 clearly stipulate that no single provision of the Declaration can be subject to arbitrary and discretionary interpretation or editing.