Ambassador Papikyan delivers statement on promotion of impunity for hate crimes in Azerbaijan
YEREVAN, JUNE 5, ARMENPRESS. The issue of the Promotion of Impunity for Hate Crimes in Azerbaijan has been included to the agenda of the 1270th session of the OSCE Permanent Council at the initiative of Armenia over which Armenia’s Permanent Representative to the OSCE, Ambassador Armen Papikyan delivered a statement, the Armenian MFA told Armenpress.
The Ambassador drew the attention of the participating states to the ECHR ruling on “Makuchyan and Minasyan vs Azerbaijan and Hungary” case issued on 26.05.2020.
Armenpress presents the Ambassador’s statement:
“The purpose of introducing this current issue is to inform the participating States of the essence and details of the case and thus expose the latest attempts of the authorities of Azerbaijan at manipulation and disinformation, and denial of any wrongdoing in case of Ramil Safarov, the Azerbaijani military officer convicted of premeditated brutal murder of Armenian military officer in 2004, thus justifying and endorsing the glorification of that despicable hate crime.
The case in question was brought to the Strasbourg Court by Makuchyan and Minasyan v. Azerbaijan and Hungary (application no. 17247/13) after Ramil Safarov, who was convicted by the court in Hungary to serve a life-time sentence for decapitating by an axe of Armenian military officer Gurgen Margaryan while in his sleep and attempted murder of another Armenian officer during the NATO/PFP courses in Hungary back in 2004.
On 13 April 2006 the Budapest High Court found Ramil Safarov guilty of the exceptionally cruel and premeditated murder of Gurgen Margaryan and of preparation for murder of Hayk Makuchyan. Based on the conclusions of the Hungarian court the crimes were committed with vile motives and exclusively because of the Armenian nationality of the victims.
On 31 August 2012 Safarov was transferred to Azerbaijan to continue serving his sentence there, was pardoned by the President of Azerbaijan immediately upon his landing in Baku, was given a hero welcome by the Government of Azerbaijan, its state officials including Mr. Ayaz Guliyev, the then Azerbaijani parliamentarian, Member of the OSCE PA and currently the Vice President of the same august body as well as Ms. Ganira Pashaeva, Member of the Azerbaijani Delegation to PACE at that time. Moreover, next day, on 1 September 2012 Safarov was promoted to the rank of major by the Minister of Defence during the course of a public ceremony. On 6 December 2012 he was provided use of a flat belonging to the State housing fund and he was also awarded eight years of salary arrears.
I am giving all these details in order for the participating States to clearly see that people who are trying today to convince the international community of their commitment to peace and tolerance, are in fact the same people who glorified the murderer who committed a heinous hate crime.
On 26 May 2020 the European Court of Human Rights in its ruling concluded that the actions of Azerbaijan to grant an impunity for a serious crime perpetrated by the axe murderer Ramil Safarov have no justification. “The Court considered that Azerbaijan had assumed responsibility for the enforcement of R.S.’s prison sentence upon his transfer, and from that point on, it had been called upon to provide an adequate response to a very serious ethnically-biased crime for which one of its citizens had been convicted in another country. Instead of enforcing R.S.’s sentence, however, he had been set free and treated as an innocent or wrongfully convicted person and bestowed with benefits.”
The measures taken by the high-ranking officials of Azerbaijan, including a specially dedicated page to Safarov opened on the President of Azerbaijan’s website led to impunity which was coupled with the glorification of his extremely cruel hate crime. Safarov had in effect been granted impunity in Azerbaijan for the crimes committed against his Armenian victims. The Court concluded that Azerbaijan was in violation of its obligation under Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights (Rights to Life) to effectively deter the commission of offences which put others’ lives at risk.
Moreover, the Court found sufficient evidence to conclude that Safaorv’s pardon and other measures in his favour had been racially motivated, whereas the ethnic bias of his crimes had already been fully investigated during Court proceedings in Hungary.
Moreover, the Court noted the statements by Azerbaijani officials calling Safarov a patriot and a hero. “It deplored the fact that the majority of those statements had expressed particular support for the fact that R.S.’s crimes had been directed against Armenian soldiers and considered that the very existence of the website suggested that he had been pardoned because of the ethnic nature of his attack.”
Attempts by the Azerbaijani Government to deny the factor of ethnicity of the victim were not sufficient “to refute the overwhelming body of evidence from the applicants that the various measures leading to R.S.’s virtual impunity, coupled with the glorification of his extremely cruel hate crime, had had a causal link to the victims’ Armenian ethnicity.” Therefore, the Court found that Azerbaijan was in violation of Article 14 (Prohibition of Discrimination) in conjunction with Article 2 (Right to Life).
The Safarov transfer and subsequent an immediate release and glorification caused an outrage and wide-spread condemnation from countries all over the world, from such international organizations as the EU, Council of Europe. The European Parliament adopted a resolution in this regard, and various Parliamentary Assemblies reacted to this case.
As this Delegation underlined earlier, if we fail to condemn Azerbaijan’s position on this issue, we would condone the words and the actions of Azerbaijan as it implicitly condones such acts itself. Fanning the flames of hatred, state sponsored and propagated Armenophobia in and by Azerbaijan provides a pretext, a reason, a motivation, better yet, a license to those who are inclined to operate outside the law, thinking they are doing national duty.
It is symptomatic that such brutality is being referred to by Azerbaijan as an "incident", thus encouraging self-appointed avengers to commit such despicable acts of vengeance operating outside the law. The Azerbaijani Government has never expressed any remorse regarding this ethnically motivated hate crime by the murderer whose words were "My job is to kill all [Armenians], because until they live, we will suffer".
The action of Azerbaijan clearly demonstrates that this country cannot be regarded as a reliable partner in bilateral and multilateral relations, particularly when it comes to delivering on such commitments as fighting hate crimes.
This whole case discloses the real face of Azerbaijani authorities, whose actions, encouragements, distortions, exaggerations, manipulations and disinformation, in short, their effective hate propaganda became an obstacle to peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The prevailing level of hostility towards Armenians could not contribute to creation of an environment conducive to peace. The Safarov case vividly illustrates that under no circumstances Azerbaijani authorities can be entrusted with the responsibility of providing security to any part of the Armenian people. Therefore, under no circumstances the people of Artsakh cannot be left without secure lines of defense”.