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Ombudsman calls for demilitarized zone as illegal Azeri military presence poses threat to Armenian villagers in Syunik

The Armenian Human Rights Defender is again calling for a de-militarized zone at border villages of Syunik Province where the Azeri military is deployed in the direct vicinity of the Armenian civilian territories.

The statement from the Ombudsman Arman Tatoyan comes after a joint visit with the President of Armenia Armen Sarkissian to the village of Tchakaten in Syunik.

“Residents of the village say that they are avoiding travel on the Kapan-Tchakaten, Kapan-Shikahogh roads and roads leading to other villages especially at nighttime because of the Azerbaijani military presence on these roads.

The Azerbaijani military servicemen are threatening the physical safety of the village residents. [Azeri] signs and flags are installed at this road, which in turn is a pretext for deploying the servicemen. This has disrupted the peaceful residents’ free movement through that road. Because of this all, the villagers are forced to refrain from traveling on that road at nighttime even for essential needs, such as going to work or to a hospital, due to security concerns.

Moreover, according to the information provided by the residents of the villages and community officials, shooting incidents continue to happen in the direct vicinity of the villages. According to the reports, the shots fired by Azeri servicemen are clearly heard in the villages and are aimed at terrorizing the peaceful residents and first of all women and children.

 The residents also presented security and social issues to the President of the Republic and the Human Rights Defender. The Human Rights Defender reiterated his stance that the post-war deployment of Azerbaijani armed forces, including flags and road signs, are deprived of any legal basis, they must withdraw from those areas and a de-militarized security zone must be created.

The President has also addressed this issue.”

The Ombudsman’s Office said the results of the joint visits will be summarized with Sarkissian’s Office and further actions will be made accordingly.