Yesterday, October 2, resident of Sabirabad District Kerimzade Rasim Nusrat oglu, born 2002, was injured in a landmine explosion in Khojavand District of Azerbaijan. The victim had several toes amputated on his right foot, his condition is currently stable. The day before, on October 1, residents of the village of Sahlabad—Bayramov Rafael Kochari oglu, born 1976, and Jabbarov Nijat Novruz oglu, born 1990—were blown up on a landmine in the village of Giziloba of Tartar District. Before that, on September 30, two people, 36-year-old Amid Asadov and 15-year-old Cherkez Guluzade, were killed in a landmine explosion in Fizuli District. These tragic incidents occur during road construction, during agricultural work, people get blown up on mines trying to get to the previously occupied lands to see their home villages, or rather what is left of them… Even after November 10, 2020, that is, after the 44-day war, more than 240 citizens of Azerbaijan were killed and injured as a result of explosions of the landmines left by the Armenian occupiers. Some of our colleagues are also among the victims of the mine terror. On June 4, 2021, AzTV cameraman Siraj Abishov, AzerTAC correspondent Maharram Ibrahimov and the Deputy Representative of the Kalbajar District Executive Power for the Sususlug Administrative-Territorial District Arif Aliyev were killed as a result of an antitank mine explosion in the village of Sususlug of Kalbajar District. On April 16, 2022, the vigilance of the Azerbaijani military prevented a terrible tragedy: an anti-tank mine was found on the route of the bus carrying residents of the village of Guneshli in Kalbajar.
This is not the case when one can argue that landmines and unexploded ordnance do remain at battlefields after the war and recall that even now air bombs from World War II are still being found in European cities. This chain of tragic incidents is yet another manifestation of Armenia’s deliberate policy of mine terror.
First of all, a reminder: Armenia did not build any defense lines in Kalbajar District, and there was almost no fighting there during the Second Karabagh War. The Kalbajar minefields were planted in the 10 days, from November 15 to 25, Yerevan requested from Baku to “withdraw troops and evacuate population”. But while some disconnected toilets and burned houses, others planted landmines.
Moreover, despite repeated calls from Azerbaijan and the norms of international humanitarian law, Armenia still refuses to give Baku maps of the minefields. And those it does reluctantly hand over are at most 25% accurate. Yerevan assures that it simply does not have more accurate maps. However, in November and December 2020, saboteurs from Armenia were sent to Khojavand from Armenia. And judging by the way they moved and acted, they had fairly accurate maps of the minefields. Yet Armenia still won’t hand those over to Azerbaijan.
Finally, there are also the following outrageous and terrifying facts. After the withdrawal of the Armenian occupiers from the city of Lachin and the villages of Zabukh and Sus, minefields were again found in this territory, and the mines planted there were manufactured in 2021. That is, after the war and after Armenia signed the trilateral statement of November 10, 2020, according to which Lachin was to return under Azerbaijani control following the construction of the bypass road.
Is this just to spite us after the war they lost? Absolutely. But not only that. This kind of mine terror has another purpose: to hinder as much as possible the reconstruction work in the territories liberated from the Armenian occupation.
Lastly, you will recall that Armenia’s September provocation in the direction of Kalbajar also began with an attempt to mine the supply routes of the Azerbaijani troops in Azerbaijan’s own territory. Therefore, we cannot rule out that Armenia has plans to reoccupy the liberated lands. And there is no doubt that these plans are supplemented by much more accurate maps of the minefields in the territory of Azerbaijan than the ones that Armenia hands over to our country after much stalling and bargaining.
But that is not all. The Armenian mine terror has another, very unpleasant, component. It is the silence of the international community.
The facts of this mine terror are literally on the surface. They are, pardon my cynicism and black humor, easy to find even without a mine detector. Finally, the cruel and uncomfortable for many realities of the Armenian “mine terror” have been repeatedly voiced by official Baku. But… no real pressure was exerted on Armenia. Occasionally it was gently advised to hand over the maps of minefields to Azerbaijan, and that was the end of it. There was no international condemnation, let alone sanctions.
I wonder why. The “Armenian lobby”, with or without quotation marks? But, as practice shows, at the same time Armenia gets under sanctions for cooperation with the notorious Prigozhin’s Wagner PMC or for involvement in “parallel imports”, i.e., bypassing the sanctions imposed on Russia. That is, where there is sufficient political will, the Armenian lobby cannot block decisions that are inconvenient for Yerevan.
This means that this sufficient political will has not been shown in the issue of the mine terror. Hence, firstly, it is not only the Armenian authorities who should be confronted with questions concerning the mine terror. Secondly, if the authorities of seemingly reputable countries fail to display due diligence in the issue of the mine terror, these incidents will happen again and again.
And yes, in this case, “explosions” will not be limited to Azerbaijan.
Translated from Minval.az