Avetyan, Martirosyan, Chaginyan, Arzumanyan, Torosyan and others...

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Baku, 13 January 2017 –

Armenia has kept 20 per cent of Azerbaijani lands under occupation for 25 years. The initiatives put forward by the OSCE Minsk Group, which was set up to mediate the problem, have proved fruitless so far. Among the main reasons why Armenia`s occupation still continues are that no clarification is made into the notions of the aggressor and the victim, that truth is hidden, and that the rights of over a million Azerbaijani refuges to live on their own soil are ignored, while human rights of 100,000 Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians are brought to the fore.

Unlike the Armenian leadership and senior officials, the Armenian state and people have earned nothing from the policy of occupation. The taxes they pay are not spent to address their socio-economic problems, but are misappropriated by corrupt officials and channeled into maintaining the separatist regime on Azerbaijan`s occupied soil and competing in an arms race. The more wealth the Armenian authorities misappropriate, the deeper the Armenian people are dragged into poverty and misery.

The Armenian government has failed to address any of the socio-economic, political, demographic, and security problems in the past 25 years. These problems have only multiplied.

The unsolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict lies at the heart of Armenia`s socio-economic, political, demographic, and security problems. Armenia`s first President Levon Ter-Petrosyan and other opposition politicians openly admit this.[i]

Armenia is not interested in solving the Nagorno-Karabakh problem. Those who have ruled the country in the past 25 years have repeatedly blamed Azerbaijan for the problems faced by Armenia. They continue to threaten the people of Armenia to wage a war and distract their attention from corruption and violation of human rights. But this threatening tactics will come to a dead end sooner or later.

The people of Armenia are well aware of the authorities` pressure on them as well as their corruption and violation of human rights. Part of the population are afraid to publicly protest against this, others prefer to leave the country, while others rise up against the ruling regime to fight for their rights and to urge the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This process has already begun and is expanding despite pressure from the Armenian authorities.

The Armenian government has recently been taking all possible administrative and legal measures in an attempt to block civil initiatives of citizens, non-governmental organizations and opposition parties to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

In November of 2016, Baku hosted ''Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: main obstacles and settlement prospects. View from Armenia and Azerbaijan'' conference that was attended by Armenian delegates - Vahe Avetyan (human rights activist), Vahan Martirosyan (head of the Intra-national Liberation Movement Organization), and Suzanna Chaginyan (Deputy chairwoman of Meridian NGO, journalist). The conference saw the launch of Armenia-Azerbaijan Platform for Peace, with the Armenian activists joining the initiative. The Armenian delegates` visiting a conference and joining a platform in Azerbaijan prompted an ambiguous reaction of the Armenian authorities. Government officials accused the Armenian delegates of treason.

The Armenian delegates openly voice their discontent at the regime`s administrative and political persecutions and criticize its misappropriation of public wealth, corruption and violation of citizens` rights. The Armenian state-run media criticize the Armenians who attended the conference in Azerbaijan and even call to kill them.[ii]

Interestingly, unlike state officials and state-run media, part of the Armenian society resolutely support Vahe Avetyan, Vahan Martirosyan and Suzanna Chaginyan and emphasize the necessity of solving the conflict in accordance with Azerbaijan`s territorial integrity. Having demonstrated cultural courage by coming to Azerbaijan, the Armenian delegates said that they regard Armenia as the occupying country. They visited Khojaly Memorial in Baku to put a wreath at it as a mark of apology, and stated that Armenia committed Khojaly Genocide against Azerbaijanis.

Some members of the Armenian intelligentsia, who support, but have not yet joined the Armenia-Azerbaijan Platform for Peace, criticize the Armenian authorities` persecution of the people and recognize Khojaly Genocide. One of them is writer Anna Paytyan, who also recognizes Khojaly Genocide and urges the punishment of the perpetrators.

In a post on social network, Paytyan said: ''Khojaly Genocide did happen! Criminals, supporters of Nzhden should be held accountable for this. They are not soldiers, but criminals and murderers. Levon Ter-Petrosyan, Vazgen Sarkisyan, Robert Kocharyan, Serzh Sargsyan, Arabo armed group. All of them are the murderers of children and women!''[iii] She was the first representative of the Armenian intelligentsia to have urged the punishment of the perpetrators of Khojaly Genocide so openly.

The Armenian government`s persecution and injustice has become so cruel that ordinary Armenians started seeking help from Azerbaijan not only for political, but also for social and bureaucratic reasons and expressing their desire to move to Azerbaijan. Tamella Arzumanyan and Hovannes Torosyan, an Armenian couple who lived for some time in France as refugees, were forced to return to Armenia after the country`s embassy in Paris sold their documents to other persons. No Armenian state body has dealt with the couple`s complaint. In a social network statement, the Armenian couple expressed their wish to come to Azerbaijan and join the Armenia-Azerbaijan Platform for Peace.

Most probably more and more Armenian intelligentsia will be joining the initiatives at first opportunity. The process has already begun and there is no way back. The Armenian authorities` persecutions, arrests and threats are not sufficient to prevent this process. On the contrary, the number of those wishing to join the peace platform will only multiply in geometric progression. The Armenian authorities should listen to intelligentsia, non-governmental organizations and ordinary people with common sense.

Hatam Jabbarli

Doctor of Political Science

[i]  ''Мир, Примирение, Добрососедство'': речь Левона Тер-Петросяна на съезде АНК – полный текст,17 декабря, 2016.

[ii] Если понадобится, предателей нужно уничтожать физически,, 2016-12-16.

[iii] Ваан Мартиросян, Известная армянская писательница осудила резню в Ходжалы, http://haqqin.­az/comics/89426, 8 Января 2017.

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