On Wednesday 7 September 2022, MEP Peter van Dalen (EPP Group, The Netherlands) hosted a conference with the title “Human Rights & the Artsakh War 2020” in the European Parliament (EP). The conference was co-organized by the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD).
The keynote speakers were the Human rights defender of the Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh Republic – Gegham Stepanyan and the legal representative of the Armenian prisoners of war (POWs) before ECHR – Siranush Sahakyan.
The conference was widely attended by Members of the European Parliament (MEP) from different political groups, EP advisers, politicians, diplomats, and representatives of civil society.
MEP Peter van Dalen reiterated his commitment to the cause:
“I stand with the Armenian people. The life of the Armenian inhabitants of Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh, and their cultural heritage is under threat. We should not accept a status quo but ensure the Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh have a future in their historic region.”
In his opening remarks, the EAFJD President Kaspar Karampetian welcomed the participants and thanked MEP van Dalen for hosting the conference:
“The second Artsakh war in 2020 launched by Azerbaijan was another attempt to carry out an ethnic cleansing of the native Armenian population of Artsakh. The native Armenian people’s right to live freely and independently in their homeland is a fundamental human right. The European Parliament condemned the state-level policy of Armenophobia by Azerbaijan by an urgent resolution, which is another acknowledgement that the native Armenian people cannot live under Azerbaijani rule,” added the EAFJD President.
The keynote speakers addressed the gross violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by Azerbaijan during the Nagorno Karabakh/Artsakh war in 2020 and in its aftermath.
The Human rights defender of Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh, Gegham Stepanyan underlined:
“Azerbaijan’s policy of ethnic cleansing, threats, use of force, psychological attacks are aimed aimed at disrupting normal life and cause uncertainty about the future among the Armenian population of Artsakh. This uncertainty is aggravated especially due to the fact that the status of Nagorno-Karabakh is not clearly addressed in current negotiations, including through the mediation by the European Union.”
After giving an overview from the legal perspective, including the relevant judgements of international courts against Azerbaijan, Siranush Sahakyan, the legal representative of the Armenian POWs before ECHR elaborated:
“Anti-Armenian xenophobia has become a defining feature of Azerbaijan, which manifests itself in forms of hate speech, maltreatment of prisoners of Armenian descent, glorification of ethnic violence against Armenians, ethnic cleansing, denial of history.’’
The interventions were followed by a question-and-answer session with the participants of the event, including Azerbaijanis.