Center for National and International Studies
The IDPs can return home, life can become normal, schools reopen.
The topic of war with Armenia is the central focus on FB. People share the news from the front line, expressing support for the army and greeting the news about liberation of the occupied villages and regions. They share with concern the news about the shelling of the second city of Ganja and its civilians from the territory of Armenia, as well as other civilian targets, analyse the reasons for the imbalanced coverage of conflict in the Western media, and share the reaction of foreign states and organizations. They reveal the spreading of fake news by Reuters, and the removal of articles from Liberation.
The FB community posts, shares and comments on updated reports from the front line. The IDPs or people who were born in the regions which have been under occupation for almost 30 years are placing emotional posts with news about the liberation of their homelands. The FB community greets and celebrates the liberation of Sugovushan village (Madagiz). They place the photo of the liberated Khudaferin bridge with the comment: “First view of the bridge. Everything returns to its place. Thank you, our soldiers!” They share the videos of hitting of the Armenian military vehicles and weapons issued by the Ministry of Defence and report that the Armenian troops are escaping the battle fields, leaving their military equipment behind. At the same time they share updated information about Armenian attacks on Mingechevir, Ganja, Terter and even Absheron and Khizi near Baku. Sevinj Osmangizi comments that “IDPs from Jabrayil can now return to their homes, life may become normal, schools will reopen. Jabrayil region was liberated after 27 years of occupation – 4 October 2020 is a historical day”, she states. Ali Karimli considers that shelling civilian targets in Ganja is an indicator of the agony in Armenia. He comments that Armenia has proved to be an officially terrorist state by shelling the hydropower station in Mingechavir city, targeting civilian populations and even Absheron and Khizi regions with the rockets of 300 km outreach capacity. He stresses that international actors and leaders should not forget that except for the center of Jabrayil region and 22 villages the rest is still under occupation by Armenia. While Azerbaijan targets military objects, Armenia is expanding the front by targeting civilians in the densely populated cities and towns. He stresses that by targeting civilians in Terter, Barda, Fizuli, Agdam, Beylagan, and Shamkir regions they are trying to cause panic among the population. The president’s assistant Hikmet Hajiyev reports the following: Ganja was targeted by 4 SMERSH rockets, Khizi and Absheron regions by two 300 km distance rockets, while Mingechavir hydropower station by four TOCHKA_U rockets, resulting in wounded civilians. One journalist comments that Armenia has territorial claims to 3 of her 4 neighbours – Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia. “The more they managed to get, the more they want- it is time to ask them to live peaceful self-fulfilling lives”. Khadija Ismayil, an investigative journalist, reminds that spreading the photos of the captured in the war violates the Geneva Convention and expresses hopes that it will happen again. Rasul Jafarov, human rights defender, also attracts attention to the treatment of the captured according to the Geneva Convention, supporting the repeated statements by the president’s assistant Hikmet Hajiyev. He also reports that as a result of the shelling of Ganja (the second biggest city of Azerbaijan, far away from the theatre of military operations) by Armenian armed forces, one person was killed and 32 injured. One of the injured is Grigoryan Karina Romanovna (in the photo), born in 1943, of Armenian origin. She is currently in Ganja city hospital. The FB community shared the news that the leader of the sessionist regime Arutyunian was hit in his bunker. Many refugees and IDPs share their child memories on FB. One of them, former Azadlyg editor Ganimat Zahid, writes: “Armenians should have thought about the consequences of their actions before, while they are now facing the decisiveness of Azerbaijani soldiers who strive for justice. They hunted down nearly a million Azerbaijanis, including my family, expelled them from their houses, killing them. How many helpless children in their mothers’ arms. I remember that day very well. I was 9 years old. Today they have grown up, naturally they go back to their home on tanks, armed and out of their mother’s arms”. The journalist Shahveled Chobanoglu, also a refugee, but from Goyche in Armenia, comments with bitterness about his home village which is dying – trees and plants shrivelled, roads collapsed – and asks “what has Armenia achieved by occupation ?” He turns to his place in the Kirov district of Baku and recalls that there were numerous Armenian dwellers here in the past, and the head of executive power of Binagadi district was an Armenian. “So what did they achieve? What was the obstacle for joint and humane living? And what is the sense in occupying the lands and leaving them empty? What is the sense of choosing the way which brings suffering both to the neighbour and your own country? What has so much blood and fighting been brought to our region? Maybe now they will understand and will return to more rational thinking. It is never too late”.
Ilkin Rustamzade the youth leader also joins the calls of civil activists regarding the Geneva convention. Isa Gambar of Musavat gave an interview about the war in Karabagh to the Belarus TV channel Belsat, where he also wished success to the struggle of the Belarus people. The Musavat party issued a statement in regards to the shelling of Ganja. It says that by targeting civilian objects from the territory of Armenia using the prohibited cluster bombs, it commits provocation whereby Azerbaijan is forced to respond and Russia get involved in the conflict. Musavat calls on the international community, first of all countries of the co-chairmanship of the Minsk group, to undertake serious measures to stop the military crimes. Tofig Yagublu of Musavat and NCDF calls for the population to aid the army, and suggested that the government, which has been delaying payment of compensation to himself and his daughter according to the decision of the ECHR for many years, pays out 200 Euro from this compensation towards the needs of the army.
FB users share with irony the proposal of renewing peace talks by “a new method” suggested by president Macron. The FB community especially targets the French president’s position in the conflict which they consider to be in contradiction with the mediating function of France. Jamil Hasanli argues that the world is gradually starting to know the truth about the conflict, and that the worries of Macron are related to the fact of discrediting long-lasting Armenian propaganda. He reminds readers that the lies of Russia and France about Syrian mercenaries were denounced by Mike Pompeo. Hasanli expresses his regret that France who has been all its history fighting aggressors, this time is defending the country, which occupies the other. He comments that Azerbaijan has been tolerating the occupation of 20% of its territory for almost 30 years, hoping for constructive results of peace talks. The country was forcefully dragged into the war. The only condition for the cessation of military actions being the withdrawal of the Armenian army and this is in accordance with the UN charter, principles of OSCE and all other conventions. The FB readers share information of the editor of German Bild journal Paul Ronzheimer about anxiety in Yerevan, due to the big losses at the front. They also comment on the speech of Pashinian reporting updates of the situation at the front, and the idea, “that this time the Azerbaijani attack is unique in its scale, as they want to exterminate our nation”.
Yadigar Sadyghli of Musavat comments: “This is like living a deja-vous: again military operations, the young volunteers, sending the last penny or the last food to the army people. Again the unjust position of the world, especially anti-Azerbaijan statements in Russia, and friendly news coming only from Turkey. Again the national unity … But this time there won’t be a bad ending, this time victory is ours”. Ilham Aliyev has appealed to the people on October 4th with updates of the situation at the front. He said that he has been waiting for two years, as requested by Pashinian, who was under various pressures, but instead the premier’s position was becoming more radical. He also criticised the position of some European leaders. Aliyev commented, “Who are they (Armenia) to make 7 demands on us? … The retake of Jabrayil region should be a lesson to Armenia … We have our own conditions – withdraw the troops, recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and all other basic principles, and apologize to the Azerbaijani people.” Opposition activist’s reaction to the speech differed. Some fully supported the statement. The others, the younger ones, treated it with irony, commenting that they cannot recognize the president. There are some voices of the younger people, especially women, who decry the military actions and the war, taking away the lives of young people.
The Organization of the Protection of the Rights of Oil Workers (chaired by Mirvari Gahramanli) issued a statement which says that on September 27th 2020 at 6am Armenian armed forces violated the ceasefire and shelled civilian objects, resulting in civilian casualties, including children. It further says that the Armenian army targeted with rocket fire regions with energy infrastructure of strategic importance, such as the Baku-Tbilisi-Jeyhan pipeline, Western Export pipeline, Southern Caucasus Export pipeline, and Southern Gas Corridor, and the regions of Tovuz (13 villages) and Shamkir (13 villages). On October 2nd the Armenian army shelled using heavy artillery and rockets the settlement of Sabirkend in the Shamkir region, which provides transit for 4 pipelines. These pipelines provide energy security for the EU via Turkey and supply Southern Europe. The transit capacity of the pipelines in 2020 = 16bcm and projected to be 23bcm in 2023 and 31bcm in 2026. The statement considers the actions of Armenia are not accidental, that this is aggression is not only directed against Azerbaijan but also against European energy security. It calls on all the EU member states, companies, and IFOs to apply serious measures against Armenia, who is targeting civilians and energy infrastructures of global importance.
The US based Azerbaijani Diaspora organization The Federation of American Azerbaijanis has arranged a Karabagh Forum. FB shares the speech of Erdogan in Konya where he emphasizes that Turkey is the heartfelt friend and brother of Azerbaijan, and reassures that the struggle will continue until all the occupied lands are liberated (Anadolu agency). The analyst and political activist comments on international reaction and classifies it in three groups. The first comprises the UNSC, OSCE, EU etc. who in 30 years did not take any serious steps toward resolution so they do not have a moral or a political right to demand the immediate halt of the military actions and start negotiations, so it is not worth paying attention. The second group are governments of the US, France and Russia who may be joined by Germany or Great Britain – we have seen their activities in Ukraine and Georgia – so far none of the conflicts has been solved. The US leadership is busy with elections, Macron wants to boost his reputation before the Armenians, Putin as always follows his way – so do not take seriously the OSCE Minsk group co-chairmen’s statement either. The third group is constituted of regional actors Turkey and Russia, who have enough resources to stop the war, but for now are not interested. First, they both are coping with financial crises, and speedy fall of the value of the ruble in the North and lira in the South. Russia is interested in the political crisis in Armenia, while Turkey in guaranteeing stability of Azerbaijan, so their joint statement to sit at the negotiation table is a relevant policy. It is important, however, that the occupying army is pushed out of the country and that the negotiating table is in Shusha or Khankendi, concludes the activist. FB users also share the news that the Karabagh football team of Azerbaijan won the match with the Polish team and earned the qualification to contest for the European Football Cup. Khadija Ismayil argues that by targeting Mingechavir hydropower station Armenia is trying to cause an ecological catastrophe. She also analyses why reporting is mainly pro-Armenian by western journalists, concluding that this is because Azerbaijan authorities do not give visas and accreditations to foreign journalists. She asks the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to explain such a position. REAL member Erkin Gadirli and its leader Ilgar Mammadov at the meeting of the government and opposition suggested inviting foreign journalists and opened offices for them, as well as inviting international human rights organizations, who would document the violation of civilians rights by the Armenian army. The FB community shares information that the Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Karabagh does not recognize France as a country co-chair of the Minsk group. FB users comment on the opening of an Armenian embassy in Israel, and how the ambassador of Iran in Yerevan approached this with understanding. The tweet by a Russian FB user, who says that the tactic of Pashinian is to try to involve Russia and CSTO in conflict by targeting Azerbaijani cities, was put as a screenshot on FB.
The writer in exile Gunel Movlud comments on the photo of a journalist with the gun made on the Armenian side, that true journalists cannot be armed. The FB community intensively shares information about foreign states siding with different parties in the conflict – such as France’s arms supply to Armenia, or political support on the part of Pakistan to Azerbaijan’s position. The Azerbaijani president’s assistant referred to the war as the Homeland and the People’s war. He also expresses their special deep gratitude to Turkey, and other states –Pakistan, Hungary, Turkic Council, Organization of İslamic Cooperation for their support of the Azerbaijani position. Independent and opposition sources report support for Azerbaijan on the part of president Zelensky of Ukraine. They also share the statement by the Armenian Foreign Ministry that they are ready to stop fighting for the beginning of negotiations. The local commentary says that this is done to portray itself as a peace-loving party, but on the other hand also betrays the hard situation which Armenia has got itself in. If Armenia rally wants peace, it should withdraw its troops from Azerbaijan. Rasul Jafarov of REAL posted an appeal to his colleagues abroad, that it is unjust to call the Nagorno-Karabagh territory “disputed”, as there are four UNSC resolutions demanding unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian troops which have still not been implemented for 27 years. The conflict has erupted because of the continuing occupation of this region, concludes Jafarov.
Activists, journalists, and bloggers post the statement by the MPs from the German Bundestag (CDU/CSU) Nikolas Lobel and Eberhard Ginger (member of the Foreign Affairs Committee), who attract attention to the four UNSC resolutions about the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied territories and which still have not be implemented, with 20% of Azerbaijani territory still under occupation. The statement mentions the ineffectiveness of the mediation mechanism. It asserts with reference to the UN Charter part 2, articles 3 & 4, re. the inadmissibility of the resolution of the interstate issues by force. The statement calls both parties to eliminate the situation of violating the law within the occupied territories and coming to a mutually beneficial solution. The CDU/CSU’s other MP Olaf Gutting supported the position of his colleagues on twitter. They also share the disproval of the information voiced by French President Macron about mercenaries from Syria fighting on the Azerbaijani side in Karabagh by the US state secretary Mike Pompeo, as well as by the Georgian State Security Service Grigol Liluashvili – the information of Syrian mercenaries allegedly transiting via Georgian territory, who called it lies, directed towards aggravation of the situation in the region. Ali Karimli comments that international organizations should not be worried- Azerbaijan has been implementing UNSC resolutions, which has been on paper for 27 years. Secondly, Azerbaijan does not have claims to the Armenian territories, but only wants the occupying force to leave its territory. Thirdly, unlike the Armenian army, the Azerbaijan army does not target peaceful populations or civic objects. Fourthly, everyone should know, that the Azerbaijani army does not use any foreign fighters. FB readers also share and praise the statement by the MP of the ruling party of the UK Parliament Bob Blackman. It asserts the necessity of the Armenian army to leave the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and comply with the UNSC resolutions. They also share the article by the Czech journalist Stepan Lohr, who described his attitude to the Karabagh war. He stressed that nobody wants war, even Azerbaijanis whose families were killed in the war. He reminds that Nagorno-Karabagh is not a disputed territory, but a part of Azerbaijan, the same way as Donbass or Crimea is part of Ukraine, Sudet belongs to the Czech republic, Ossetia and Abkhazia are Georgian. In spite of UNSC resolutions Armenia did not withdraw its army from the occupied territories, and one cannot call it disputed, as it is under occupation. And it is not just NK, but 7 more regions around it are under occupation. This is another violation of law. He notes that majority of media in the Czech Republic and in the world are favouring the Armenian party, portraying the conflict as a religious one – between Muslim Azerbaijanis and Christian Armenians. In fact, he argues he has never seen such a secular country as Azerbaijan, and while religious Iran supports Armenia, Azerbaijan is protected by Israel. He further argues that many connect what is happening now with 100 year-old events in the Ottoman empire, but he considers it pure manipulation which causes a high degree of indignation. Yes, he concludes, Aliyev is not a good guy, neither is Erdogan, but this does not change the nature of events. On the contrary, the former journalist, “our guy” the premier of Armenia has done everything to encourage this to happen by his increasingly nationalist policies. The media and FB users share the statement by the Ministry of Defence of Turkey which says that Armenia’s attacks should immediately stop, and the foreign mercenaries should be sent back. “Armenia, who killed children, women, and old people in Khojali 30 years ago, did not change. It is an obstacle to peace and stability in the region” says the statement. Seymur Hezi, in reaction to the shelling of Ganja from Armenia, calls upon the diplomatic corpus to investigate the ongoing developments and to report to the world, stressing that in this process the role of the EU delegation is especially important. Gubad Ibadoglu, the leader of ADR and an economist, also himself an IDP from the occupied territories, reports on preparation by the Armenian lobby in the US Congress for the adoption of a pro-Armenian resolution. He informs us that there are near 40 thousand Azerbaijanis living in the US and appeals to them to be active and send letters with information about the conflict to their senators. FB users report and share news about the rally in the Iranian-Azerbaijan city of Tabriz in support of the Karabagh war. They report that Armenia had called back its ambassador to Israel for consultations in relation to the sale of Israeli weapons to Azerbaijan. Besides, the Russia foreign ministry reported that the foreign ministers of Turkey and Russia in their telephone conversation expressed a proposal to stop the military action and agreed to coordinate actions to stabilize the situation. Jamil Hasanli, based on the comparison of original documents and coverage by Reuters, proves that the latter promotes fake information. While the original statement of the three co-chairmen clearly has two addressees – Armenia and Azerbaijan, Reuters made some “additions” to its text and added the leadership of Nagorno Karabagh. He brings it as an example of fake news, which is multiplied by other media with reference to this respectable source. Ganimad Zahid reports an interesting case- publication of the unusual article which destroys the clichés about the Karabagh conflict, such as its religious nature, etc. in the leading French newspaper Liberation on October 1st. It described how the French political spectre from ultra-right nationalists up to neo-Nazis take a pro-Armenian position and portray the context using the anti-Islamic discourse with Erdogan as an Islamic bogeyman of the West. But on the next day, Oct 2nd, the article was removed from the site of Liberation, and while staying on the twitter account, showed an “error” sign when accessed. Seymur Hezi of PFP states that the release of the “Karabagh rally” political prisoners would strengthen the spirit of the people and the army.
October 6, 2020