Azerbaijan files complaint for “ethnic cleansing” by Armenia

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Azerbaijan on Thursday lodged a complaint with the highest United Nations court accusing neighboring Armenia of a “policy of ethnic cleansing” against Azerbaijanis.

The case was brought before the International Court of Justice a week after Armenia files complaint against Azerbaijan before the same Hague-based world tribunal, accusing Baku of a “state-sponsored Armenian hate policy”.

Both cases focus on the decades-long territorial dispute between the two countries, which again escalated into armed conflict last year, killing hundreds.

Referring to this outbreak of hostilities, Azerbaijan alleged in its written dossier that “Armenia has again targeted Azerbaijanis for brutal treatment motivated by ethnic hatred,” the court said in a statement.

“Armenia’s policies and conduct in ethnic cleansing, cultural erasure and hatred against Azerbaijanis systematically violate the rights and freedoms of Azerbaijanis, as well as Azerbaijan’s own rights” , alleges the case. He accuses Armenia of having violated an international convention aimed at eradicating discrimination.

Armenia cited the same convention last week when taking its case to court, which deals with disputes between nations. The two countries signed the convention.

The legal dispute is the latest battle over the Nagorno-Karabakh region in Azerbaijan which has been under the control of Armenian ethnic forces backed by the Armenian government for more than a quarter of a century.

The region mostly populated by Armenians had an autonomous status within Azerbaijan during the Soviet era. Tensions between Christian Armenians and mostly Muslim Azeris escalated when the Soviet Union collapsed. Conflict erupted in 1988 when the region attempted to join Armenia, and degenerated into war after the collapse of the USSR in 1991, killing around 30,000 and displacing around 1 million people.

Azerbaijan asked the court to urgently order “interim measures” aimed at compelling Armenia to “protect the Azerbaijanis from irreparable damage caused by Armenia’s current conduct”. Armenia made a similar request last week to protect its interests while the case is heard.

Cases in court often take years, but hearings on the two requests for interim measures will likely be scheduled in the coming weeks.

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