By Rachel Avraham
According to various reports in the Azerbaijani media, Armenians who are seeking to obtain Azerbaijani citizenship have been persecuted by the Prosecutor General’s Office of Armenia after attempting to obtain Azerbaijani citizenship. As a result, there are a series of Azerbaijani NGOs active in the field of human rights protection who are seeking to protest this reality, as it goes contrary to international law. They have written the following appeal to international human rights organizations.
The appeal put out by the Azerbaijani NGOs reads: “We, the NGOs operating in Azerbaijan on human rights protection, report with great concern that the Prosecutor-General’s Office of the Republic of Armenia launched a criminal case against Ishkhan Verdiyan and Vahe Gambaryan for applying to President Ilham Aliyev to obtain Azerbaijani citizenship.”
The statement adds: “Unfortunately, with such steps, the Armenian leadership intends to intimidate citizens of Armenia who want to live in Khankandi, as well as neighboring towns and villages, on legal grounds as citizens of Azerbaijan. At the same time, official Yerevan accuses the citizens of Karabakh of “provocative activities” who declare the need to live in peace with Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis.”
According to the Azerbaijani NGOs, “With these facts, the Armenian leadership, which is trying to block Azerbaijan’s peace and reconciliation efforts, grossly violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and other relevant international laws and norms with its illegal actions against the mentioned persons. Thus, according to international human rights norms, everyone has the right to freedom and immunity, the right not to be discriminated against for any national, racial, religious, ethnic, and social origin, and everyone who is in the territory of a state has the right to move freely within the borders of this territory and freely choose his place of residence.”
“No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to come to his country, nor shall they be persecuted for it,” the statement adds: “At the same time, according to these conventions, everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right includes the freedom to hold one’s opinion and disseminate information regardless of national borders without any interference by state authorities.”
In conclusion, they proclaim: “Taking into account the above-mentioned facts, we appeal to you on behalf of the NGOs operating in Azerbaijan on human rights protection and demand that you take appropriate measures against the Armenian leadership, which is trying to block Azerbaijan’s attempts at peace and reconciliation in the region.” Unfortunately, both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been deadly silent about the plight of Armenians who are discriminated against for seeking to obtain Azerbaijani citizenship.