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 Saturday, March 25 2023 17:08
Alexandr Avanesov

RA Permanent Representative to UN: Azerbaijan`s practice of  proliferating counter-allegations based on disinformation is not new

RA Permanent Representative to UN: Azerbaijan`s practice of  proliferating counter-allegations based on disinformation is not new

ArmInfo. Azerbaijan's practice of proliferating counter-allegations based on disinformation is not new. Armenia's Permanent Representative to the UN Mher Margaryan stated this in his letter addressed to the UN Secretary General. The  Permanent Mission of the Republic of Armenia to the UN reports. The  letter has been published as an official document of the UNSC and the  General Assembly.

Below is the full letter as published by the UN.

"I am writing with reference to the letter of the Permanent  Representative of Azerbaijan dated 26 January (A/77/714-S/2023/62)  and its annex containing groundless, repetitive and false  accusations, which have already been repudiated on several occasions.  As ever, Azerbaijan's allegations rely heavily upon deliberate  distortions and fabrications. The statement claiming that "Armenia  recruits children in armed forces and armed groups" is erroneous and  intentionally deceptive, as is everything that follows this  propagandistic narrative. To begin with, there is no evidence in the  "report" by an unknown author to support Azerbaijan's baseless claim  that Armenia is recruiting child soldiers. While accusing Armenia of  "actively using children in its armed forces and armed groups", the  "report" fails to provide any independent, credible sources beyond  the self-serving references to Azerbaijan's own statements, letters  and communications. The very rare external references which  Azerbaijan has included in its "report" to substantiate the "child  recruitment" accusations are limited to the publications by Child  Soldiers International from two decades ago. It could be of peculiar  interest to recollect here that, back in 2008, citing "confidential  sources", the same organization observed that, in Azerbaijan, 17  -yearolds who graduated from military secondary schools could go  straight into military service, and that military cadets as young as  17 years old were actually considered to be members of the armed  forces. One could conclude, in this regard, that, in the light of the  reports indicative of Azerbaijan's systematic practice of recruiting  individuals who have not attained the minimum age of 18 into the  armed forces, the true purpose of the "report" is to divert attention  from Azerbaijan's own record of child recruitment. Azerbaijan's  practice of proliferating counter-allegations based on disinformation  is not new. Suffice it to recall that, back in 2020, in the face of  the mounting body of credible evidence and multiple international  accounts confirming that Azerbaijan had, in fact, employed terrorists  and mercenaries from the Middle East and introduced them into the  Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, Azerbaijan followed a similar pattern  of behaviour by manufacturing a "report" which accused Armenia and a  number of individuals of Armenian origin of nothing less than  "terrorism". As has already been communicated earlier through the  letter of the Permanent Representative of Armenia dated 9 March 2021,  3 which essentially dismissed all "terrorism" allegations, and to  which Azerbaijan has never responded, such accusations are based  exclusively on anecdotal, uncorroborated information largely  self-reported by Azerbaijan and, as such, can be considered as  neither objective nor credible. Moreover, Azerbaijan's continued  references to its own defamatory publication, which targets  individuals of Armenian origin by labelling them as "terrorists" or  "mercenaries" with no proof whatsoever, is nothing short of sheer  manifestation of incitement and promotion of racial hatred and  discrimination by officials and public institutions - a policy from  which Azerbaijan has been asked to refrain by the International Court  of Justice.  It is, indeed, a source of grave concern that  Azerbaijan's narratives continue to be conceived and formulated  exclusively from the perspective of hate and long - standing policies  of Armenophobia. This is particularly true with reference to the  allegations involving the non-governmental organizations engaged in  nothing more than self-defence preparedness, education and training  for the civilian population in Armenia, to which Azerbaijan continues  to refer as "ethno-nationalist hate armed groups", despite the fact  that Azerbaijan's claims that blatantly mischaracterize the character  of such organizations and activities have been effectively repudiated  during the inter-State proceedings within the International Court of  Justice. Azerbaijan's incessant speculations, at this time using the  "child recruitment" narrative, are demonstrative of yet another  ill-conceived effort to engage in one-sided propaganda and to  obfuscate the well-known facts regarding the dire human rights  situation in Azerbaijan, as well as those surrounding the causes and  consequences of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. At the core of such an  intentionally deceptive narrative is the brazen denial of the mass  atrocities committed against the Armenian people, as well as  Azerbaijan's ongoing policy of the use of force and threat of force  to achieve its expansionist goals in our region. It has been well  known and extensively documented that, for the past three decades,  Azerbaijan has been actively promulgating dehumanizing anti-Armenian  rhetoric, creating an image of an enemy among its public, including  among children, as part of war preparations. According to the  European Commission against Racism and Intolerance of the Council of  Europe: "Political leaders, educational institutions and media have  continued using hate speech against Armenians; an entire generation  of Azerbaijanis has now grown up listening to this hateful rhetoric".   Over the years, Azerbaijan has been weaponizing children for  propaganda against Armenia and the Armenian people. The Advisory  Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National  Minorities of the Council of Europe has similarly observed the large  extent of hate rhetoric, hostility and victimhood, which may have an  impact on prospects for future reconciliation.  Notably, propagating  hatred towards Armenians is part and parcel of early education in  Azerbaijan, where preschoolers are asked to name their enemy and  taught to respond "Armenians" in unison. That a country where human  rights are systematically abused and which continuously commits acts  that "could amount to various war crimes in contravention of the  Geneva Conventions of 1949, of which Azerbaijan is a party"  should  resort to misusing the rights of the child for propaganda purposes  amounts to an exceptional degree of hypocrisy that is only  commensurate with the level of violence and criminality that  Azerbaijan has steadily demonstrated in the region, in flagrant  disregard of the rights of the children affected by Azerbaijan's  brutal, senseless aggression. Notably, the large-scale military  hostilities unleashed by Azerbaijan against Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020  came to be accompanied by systematic indiscriminate attacks against  the civilian infrastructure and civilian population, in violation of  international humanitarian law, in particular, article 51 of Protocol  I Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Azerbaijan's  indiscriminate attacks have taken the lives of children and left many  wounded.  Azerbaijan continues to violate the rights of children,  having caused crisis and displacement during its military attack  against Armenia in September 2022, which exposed a number of villages  and towns inside the territory of Armenia to massive attacks by heavy  artillery and uncrewed aerial vehicles. As a result of such actions,  the inalienable right to education has been violated for 25,000  children from the Gegharkunik, Vayots Dzor and Syunik Provinces of  the Republic of Armenia. The ongoing blockade of the Lachin Corridor  imposed since 12 December 2022, which has resulted in the disruption  of the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to the Republic of  Armenia and to the outside world, continues to have a detrimental  effect on the rights of the children in Nagorno-Karabakh, whereby the  activities of 41 kindergartens and 56 preschool groups had to be  completely suspended, with 6,828 children essentially deprived of the  opportunity to receive care and exercise their right to education.  Azerbaijan needs to cease its glaring attempts to accuse Armenia of  its own malfeasance, including by way of misusing the rights of the  child for outright propaganda purposes, and commit, instead, in good  faith, to the implementation of the existing legal obligations,  including those stemming from the legally binding orders issued by  the International Court of Justice. As a firm supporter of the goals,  objectives and principles enshrined in the Safe Schools Declaration,  the Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated with Armed  Forces or Armed Groups (Paris Principles) and the Vancouver  Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and  Use of Child Soldiers, Armenia believes that the protection of the  rights of all children and, in particular, those residing in conflict  areas must be at the centre of all efforts in support of the  collective commitment of leaving no child behind. I kindly ask that  the present letter be circulated as a document of the General  Assembly, under agenda items 30, 64, 66, 67, 68 and 132 and of the  Security Council."  

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