Ombudsman of Nagorno Karabakh REPUBLIC calls for Europe to help his office promote human rights

22-02-2017 16:41:25   |   |  Press release
The Ombudsman of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR), Ruben Melikyan, as part of a campaign for the EU and its civil society to engage with Nagorno-Karabakh, addressed the last in a series of events and meetings from February 13 to 16 in Brussels, Strasbourg and Vienna, where different European institutions are located. The visit of the Ombudsman was coordinated by Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) Europe.  

This was no routine visit by a foreign official in the European capital: The Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, in the South Caucasus, is not internationally recognized, as its status remains in dispute; it therefore does not entertain formal relations with official bodies. The mandate of the Ombudsman of Karabakh is to serve as a human rights watchdog, reporting on human rights violations, investigating complaints, and advising the Parliament on the drafting of a new legislation.
Explaining the rationale for the visit, Mr. Melikyan mentioned, “To defend human rights in Nagorno Karabakh, we must build capacity by establishing international relations and engagement.” 
The visit allowed the Ombudsman to build effective working relationships with a number of human rights professionals.
During these meetings, Ruben Melikyan presented a recent report on the war crimes committed by Azerbaijani armed forces during a 4-day offensive in April, 2016. Chillingly summarizing their findings,
he said, “90 per cent of the Armenian soldiers and civilians captured during those attacks were either tortured, executed or dismembered”. He added that similar acts were encouraged by the Azerbaijani armed forces and called on international organizations to investigate and condemn such crimes.
Reporting on the cases he currently works on, NKR Human Rights Defender Ruben Melikyan ensured that the rights of Azerbaijani soldiers who were captured by Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Forces (NKDF) are respected. He also claimed there is a broad consensus in NKR not to allow acts of revenge be committed, on the grounds that “our strength is in our standards”.
Mr. Melikyan also commented on the extradition from Belarus to Azerbaijan, for the supposed crime of Alexander Lapshin, a Russian blogger, having travelled to and written about Karabakh. Soon after this, people who were known to have travelled to Karabakh started receiving emails intended to intimidate them and several have cancelled their travel plans to Karabakh.
AGBU Europe Director Nicolas Tavitian said, “The EU has a policy called “engagement without recognition” that it applies to all other unrecognized states in its periphery: Transdnistria, Abkhazia, Northern Cyprus, in particular. The same should be done in Karabakh. Granted, Azerbaijan's leadership is not easy to handle, and the country has oil and gas. Azerbaijan's bidding to isolate Karabakh increases the likelihood and frequency of future wars and barbaric acts. By going along with it, Europe is betraying its values.”
Tavitian went on to say: “In
view of the situation, we are particularly grateful to the people who helped with the organization of Ombudsman’s visit to Brussels. Special thanks are due to MEP Frank Engel who hosted events at the European Parliament.”
AGBU Europe coordinates and develops the pan-European activities of the Armenian General Benevolent Union. Established in 1906, AGBU is the world’s largest non-profit Armenian organization. AGBU Europe runs numerous programmes in fields relating to academic research, the preservation and promotion of heritage, education and culture as well as awareness raising, advocacy and leadership training. 
  -   Press release
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