By Rachel Avraham
August 30 is the Day of the International Disappeared Persons. During the First Karabakh War, up to 4,000 Azerbaijanis disappeared without a trace after Armenia occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory in violation of international law. These individuals are presumed to be dead. To date, Armenia has not returned their bodies to their loved ones or accounted for them, even though they are required to do so under international law.
Around the same period of time, 800,000 Azerbaijanis were expelled from their homes. Amid such ethnic cleansing, Armenia besieged and looted Azerbaijani villages, taking hostage the villagers, where they were horrendously tortured in prison camps. Among the missing from these prison camps are 719 civilians including 267 women, 326 elderly persons, and 71 children.
“I think that the human rights advocates all over the world speak about the importance of respecting every person who is killed in a war or died in any state, including in ones that are enemies,” Ayoob Kara, who served as Israel’s Communication, Satellite and Cyber Minister, stated.
“If there are thousands of Azerbaijanis, citizens or soldiers, that are not given the respect of a proper funeral, it is something bad from a human rights perspective,” he noted.
“Every society must grant every person the basic right to a funeral,” Kara stressed. “I want to do all my best in the future to find a solution for everything related to the conflict between the two states, so that there won’t be another war.”
In honor of the occasion, the Economic Peace Center interviewed Hasan Muzaffarli, an Azerbaijani war veteran of the Second Karabakh War that was injured by an Armenian rocket. In the interview, he stated: “My relatives were captured by Armenia and held hostage, including my grandparents, aunts and uncles.”
“The Armenians tortured the hostages,” he stressed. “I lost many relatives and friends. That motivated me to fight against Armenia to get back the liberated territories.” After Azerbaijan liberated some of the areas that were occupied by Armenia, the first mass grave of Azerbaijanis was found in Kalbajar, which thus gave the families of some of these missing Azerbaijanis hope of having closure. The search for other hostages remains ongoing.
In an exclusive interview, Sama Nabizada, a member of the Azerbaijani Diaspora Youth, noted that the Azerbaijani youth abroad have been actively informing the world about what is happening in Azerbaijan including the fate of individuals that are still missing from the First Karabakh War.