Azerbaijan's brutal beheadings and torture of Armenians

Azerbaijan's brutal beheadings and torture of Armenians

A non-exhaustive summary of war crimes

Dozens of graphic videos depicting Azerbaijani servicemen cutting off the heads of and murdering elderly Armenian men and prisoners of war started circulating online beginning from the final days of the six-week war unleashed by Baku against Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). And regardless of what the Azerbaijani President has to say about his troops “showing the highest human qualities” and being “decent” in general, hundreds of videos tell a different story, a story of murder, humiliation, marauding and a complete lack of empathy.

PanARMENIAN.Net - Two elderly men who were beheaded by Azerbaijani forces were identified back in December, confirming two of the bloodiest atrocities of the recent war in Nagorno-Karabakh. The Armenian men were non-combatants, people in their respective villages said. Both were beheaded by men in the uniforms of the Azerbaijani armed forces. The short, gruesome videos of the killings are among the worst of a torrent of footage portraying abuse, torture and murder.

The villagers’ testimony corroborates identifications by a human rights ombudsman for the Armenian-backed local government and two prominent Armenian human rights lawyers preparing a criminal case relating to the murders. The two victims were confirmed to be Genadi Petrosyan, 69, and Yuri Asryan, 82.

In mid-October, a video that contained graphic images and was spreading on social media showed Azerbaijani troops shooting two Armenian POWs dead. Footage depicts the killing of a young soldier and an elderly man after being taken prisoner by Azeri troops, who are seen grabbing the old man from his jacket and pushing him to the ground. The Azerbaijani soldiers then wrap both of them in Armenian flags and shoot them from machine guns for a long time. Armenian authorities identified the men as Benik Hakobyan, 73, and 25-year-old Yuri Adamyan.

Furthermore, a young man was beheaded alive while he struggles to get away. Azerbaijani soldiers, meanwhile laughed, cheered, and celebrated the slaughter as one of them uses an ordinary knife to cut his throat. An elderly Armenian man was filmed begging for his life, but an Azerbaijani soldier held him down and cuts his throat. Other videos depicted Azerbaijani soldiers executing an Armenian civilian, dragging others out of their homes to the sidewalk and then executing them, burning the body of an Armenian.

A video spread by social media users shows an Azerbaijani soldier stabbing the face of a fallen Armenian serviceman with a knife multiple times. Both ears of the Armenian soldier are cut off. In another video published by Twitter users, an Azerbaijani soldier is seen using a handgun to shoot a wounded Armenian serviceman in the head at close range.

Artak Beglaryan, the then Human Rights Defender of Artsakh, provided an extensive body of evidence of Azeri troops' crimes, including their murder of a woman and her disabled son in Hadrut.

Both during and after the hostilities, prisoners of war from Karabakh were regularly made fun of by Azeri troops who also mutilated the bodies of fallen Armenian servicemen. According to Human Rights Watch, which prepared a painstaking report on abuses, the situation with torturing POWs has not changed months after the end of the war. The Azerbaijanis subject the Armenian POWs and captives to physical abuse and humiliation. The videos depict Azerbaijani captors variously slapping, kicking, and prodding Armenian POWs, and compelling them, under obvious duress and with the apparent intent to humiliate, to kiss the Azerbaijani flag. In most of the videos, the captors’ faces are visible, suggesting that they did not fear being held accountable.

Besides murdering and mistreating the Armenian soldiers and civilians, the Azerbaijani military has committed a host of other war crimes, including the deliberate destruction of Armenian cultural heritage, the use of cluster munitions against the civilian population of Artsakh, the use of white phosphorus munitions in forested areas, the indiscriminate shelling of Artsakh, the targeting of journalists, to name but a few.

This is just a non-exhaustive list of what war crimes Azerbaijan committed against Armenians, which is far from what some in Baku apparently consider "dignified" behavior on the part of their military.

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