A Witchhunt on YANs or another case of Armenophobia by Azerbaijan
About 10 days ago, two Russian citizens were captured in Azerbaijan’s Chaykend village (Getashen village, occupied by Azerbaijan) located in the Goygol region.
According to the Azerbaijani media, the captives were a married couple of Armenian origin visiting Azerbaijan as tourists. They also had “Marqarisa Zakaryan Qranov”’s name (Margarita Zakaryan Granov) spread out as one of the Russian citizens, saying she and her husband were detained because of their “suspicious behavior” as they were “taking pictures in the village”.
Some of the Azerbaijani sources state that the reason for the detention of the Russian citizens of Armenian origin was their stay in the immediate vicinity of the front line which is operated in a special wartime regime. Turan News Agency published an article the day after the mass news of detention, stating that they were to have a background check, preventative conversation and be out of detention. Despite this, no information about the citizens was out officially and up to this day, the spouses are still remaining in detention.
It is to mention, that in 1991, during the ongoing war between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan, the Armenian village of Getashen was occupied by Azerbaijan and its population forcibly driven out of their land and homes without money, documents and essential goods of need. Finding themselves in the middle of the war, many of them fled to different directions, including Russia.
Taking into account the fact that Azerbaijan does not allow Armenian citizens or people with Armenian last names to visit their country, the spouses have probably had Russian last names. It is a common practice in Azerbaijan to restrict the entrance of Armenians into Azerbaijan, regardless of citizenship.
Marat Ueldanov-Galustyan, a Russian citizen of Armenian origin, was invited to take part in a conference on restaurant business, taking place in Azerbaijan, as he was working as a manager in a restaurant in Sochi. After 3 days of stay in Baku, Marat was detained on June 9, 2016.
Azerbaijani investigators accused him of espionage for Armenia and Russia but sentenced him to 8 years of imprisonment for illegal trade of drugs. It is important to notice that “Ueldanov” was his wife’s last name and he did have his Armenian last name ending with “YAN” on his passport. Can we call this a witchhunt on “YANs”? Yes. He had to spend 3 years in prison in Azerbaijan because of his last name, his Armenian ethnicity.
In 2018, Azerbaijani authorities banned Estonian citizen Karine Oganesyan, a member of the Tallinn city council, from entering the country at the Baku airport. Oganesyan had officially received an electronic visa and departed to Baku as part of the Estonian delegation but was immediately barred from entering the country because of her Armenian last name. Oganesyan was detained and spent 12 hours in a special zone at the airport after which she was sent back to Estonia.
Greco-Roman wrestler, World, and European Champion Arsen Julfalakyan was one of the first Armenian sportsmen to visit Baku, to take part in the World 2007 World Wrestling Championships: “There was no sign, nothing to show that we represent Armenia. I don’t even have Azerbaijani stamp on my passport just to say I have been there once. And, last but not least, we were taken straight from the airport to the hotel by bus with the Turkish flag on it. I had a feeling as if something bad, like a terror attack, is going to happen.”,- said Julfalakyan in an interview with the Russian RTV1 channel, concluding that he won’t go to Baku once again.
Article 2 of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
“...no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.”
ECHR has taken a strong stance on discrimination based on racial or ethnic origin, declaring that “...no differentiated attitude that is exclusively or decisively based on one's ethnic origin can be objectively justified in a modern democratic society founded on the principles of pluralism and respect for different cultures”. [Sejdić and Finci v. Bosnia and Herzegovina] 27996/06, 34836/06, 22,12. 2009].
Being a member of the UN since March 1992, Azerbaijan has to comply with the articles of the above-mentioned Declaration which in these cases is not only dismissed but also violated by unofficial law, a ban on Armenians or an act of Armenophobia.
In the meantime, starting from January 2019, 16 Azerbaijani people have visited Armenia on both personal and business purposes. Armenia does not share their personal information for their own security, considering the common practice of persecution carried out by Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan’s policy of Armenophobia is a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination - an act of racism on a state level. The policy of racial discrimination in the whole country has led to an atmosphere of hatred and intolerance towards Armenians, a striking example of which is Gurgen Margaryan's ax-murder by Ramil Safarov who was then pardoned and heroized.