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After the signing of Gyulistan and Turkmanchai treaties in 1813 and 1828 respectively, a very rapid mass resettlement of the Armenians in the Azerbaijani lands and the subsequent artificial territorial division took place.
Between 1905 and 1907 the Armenians carried out a series of large-scale bloody actions against the Azerbaijanis. The atrocities began in Baku and then extended over the whole of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani villages in the territory of present-day Armenia. Hundreds of settlements were destroyed and wiped from the face of the earth, and thousands of civilians were barbarically killed.
Taking advantage of the situation following the First World War and the February and October 1917 revolutions in Russia, the Armenians began to pursue the implementation of their plans under the banner of Bolshevism. Thus, under the watchword of combating counter-revolutionary elements, in March 1918 the Baku commune began to implement a plan aimed at eliminating the Azerbaijanis from the whole of the Baku province. Apart from Baku, solely because of their ethnic affiliation, the thousands of Azerbaijanis were annihilated also in the Shemakha and Guba districts, as well as in Karabakh, Zangezur, Nakhchivan, Lenkoran and other regions of Azerbaijan. In these areas, the civilian population was ext eliminated en masse, villages were burned and national cultural monuments were destroyed and obliterated.
Following the establishment of the Soviet rule in Armenia in late 1920, the Armenians were presented with a real opportunity to fulfill their age-old dream of creating an Armenian State on the territories of other nations. Over the 70-years of Soviet rule, the Armenians succeeded in expanding their territory at the expense of Azerbaijan and using every possible means to expel the Azerbaijanis from their lands. During this period, the aforementioned policy was implemented systematically and methodically. Thus, in 1920 the Armenians declared Zangezur and a number of other Azerbaijani lands to be part of the territory of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1923 they managed to secure the status of the autonomous province for the mountainous part of Karabakh within the Azerbaijan SSR. Thus, the artificial entity was created at the territory of Azerbaijan, while the Azerbaijani population living in the territory of Armenia at that time had not been granted similar rights.
On the pretext of resettling the Armenians coming from abroad, the Council of Ministers of the USSR adopted on 23 December 1947 and 10 March 1948 special decisions on the resettlement of collective farm workers and the other Azerbaijani population from the Armenian SSR to the Kura-Araks lowt ands in the Azerbaijani SSR. Under these decisions, during the period between 1948 and 1953 more than 150,000 Azerbaijanis were forcibly resettled from their historical homelands - the mountainous regions of Armenia - to the then waterless steppes of Mugan and the Mil plateau.
The current stage of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan may be regarded as having formally begun on 20 February 1988, when the Soviet of the People’s Deputies of the Nagorny Karabakh Autonomous Province adopted a decision to petition to the Supreme Soviets of the Azerbaijan SSR and the Armenian SSR for the transfer of the province from the former to the latter.
Before the adoption of this decision, namely already at the end of 1987, the Azerbaijanis became subject of attacks in Khankendi (during the Soviet period - Stepanakert) and Armenia resulted in a flood of Azerbaijani refugees and internally displaced persons.
On 22 February 1988 near the settlement of Askeran on the Khankendi-Aghdam highway, the Armenians opened fire on a peaceful demonstration by the Azerbaijanis protesting against the above-mentioned decision of the Soviet of the People’s Deputies of the Nagorny Karabakh Autonomous Province. Two Azerbaijani youths lost their lives in consequence, becoming the first victims of the conflict. In 1988-1989 more than 200,000 Azerbaijanis were forced to live Armenia. During the ethnic cleansing at least 216 Azerbaijanis were killed.
On 20 January 1990 the Soviet troops were brought into Baku to suppress the popular protests against the unjust and prejudiced policy pursued by the leadership of the former USSR, as well as the incompetent performance of the local leadership. As a result, hundreds of the capital residents were killed or wounded, mutilated and subjected to various forms of physical pressure.
In 1991 central law-enforcement agencies of the then USSR apprehended dozens of the Armenian armed groups that operated outside Nagorny Karabakh. Thus, the Chaykend village of the Khanlar district of Azerbaijan was turned by the Armenian armed groups into a criminal hub from which they bombed and shelled surrounding villages and roads, terrorizing the local Azerbaijani population. From 1989 to 1991, in Chaykend and adjacent areas only 54 people fell victim to the Armenian armed groups. In 1992 Azerbaijan regained its control over the Goranboy district.
At the end of1991 and the beginning of 1992 the conflict turned into a military phase. Taking ad-vantage of the political instability as a result of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and internal squabbles in Azerbaijan, Armenia initiated with the external military assistance combat operations in Nagorny Karabakh.
As a result of aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan, ethnic cleansing of the territory of Armenia proper and the occupied territories of Azerbaijan from the ethnic Azerbaijani population, there are currently almost one million refugees and IDPs in Azerbaijan, that is, approximately one out of every eight persons in the country is an internally displaced or refugee. About 20,000 Azerbaijani citizens have been killed and 50,000 have been wounded or maimed. A total of 900 settlements have been looted and burnt out, over 9 million square meters of civilian housing, state enterprises and social facilities have been destroyed.
The most serious crimes of concern to the inter-national community, such as war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, constituting the violation of peremptory norms of international law, have been committed during the conflict in and around the Nagorny Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
The facts mentioned in this website confirm that the intentional slaughter of the Khojaly town civilians on 25-26 February 1992, including children, elderly and women, was directed to their mass extermination only because they were Azerbaijanis. The Khojaly town was chosen as a stage for further occupation and ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijani territories, creating panic and fear before the horrifying massacre.
There can not be true, long-term, sustainable peace without justice, without respect for human dignity, human rights and freedoms. This belief has been affirmed by the General Assembly, almost half century ago, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which apart from proclaiming that “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”, quite correctly pointed out that “disregard and coni tempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind”.1
Conventional rules as well as international instruments concluded within the framework of the United Nations, which require States to “prosecute or extradite”, support the argument about existence of the customary obligation under international law to prosecute those who are alleged to have committed crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. Further argument precluding the possibility of invoking a State discretion to decide whether to adjudicate or not for the commission of the most serious international crimes is based on the jus cogens nature of international legal norms prohibiting these crimes.2


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1 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, GA res. 217 A (III), 10 December 1948. For text see UN Center for Human Rights, Human Rights: A Compilation of International Instruments, ST/HR/1/Rev.5, vol. 1 (First Part), New York & Geneva, UN 1994, pp. 1-7, at p. 1.
2 For more information see A.Yusifova, “Does international law allow societies in transition from conflict or authoritarian government to choose peace at the expense ofjustice? Should it?”, in “Diplomatiya Aləmi” journal, No. 10 (2005), pp. 151-155.

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