HRW appears unphased by Amnesty International’s Armenia cluster munitions use report

The aftermath of the Smerch missiles.

By | Rachel Brooks

October 29, 2020

Above, image retrieved from social media.The aftermath of the Smerch missiles on a human being.

Development. In the hours that followed this report, Human Rights Watch followed up to our request for comment, and sent us a release acknowledging the Barda bombing that published at midnight Eastern Dateline Time on October 30. Get that story here. 

The world remained chillingly silent as Amnesty International acknowledged Armenia’s use of cluster munitions against the civilians of Azerbaijan. As the evidence of Smerch missile ordinance poured in, Amnesty International photographed the scene from multidimensional angles. Amnesty’s reports regarding the Smerch missile ordinance followed on the heels of reports by ANAMA agency. Amnesty International, ANAMA, and the government of Azerbaijan individually submitted photographs of the ordinance to the record. 

Amnesty International’s report notes that on October 28 at 1:30 pm local time, at least one, and possibly several, Smerch rockets were fired into Barda. 

Human Rights Watch is the organization that published a scathing report on Azerbaijani cluster munitions use against the Stepanakert region that could not be completely verified. The report pinpointed the regions in Armenia where Azerbaijan was stated to have attacked Armenian with Israeli-made cluster munitions. Yet, the report offered no photographic evidence of the weapons ordinance it claimed knowledge of. This was because organizations such as Human Rights Watch have precious little access to the immediate conflict zone in Nagorno-Karabakh where the attacks were alleged to have occurred. 

Republic Underground directly approached the Human Rights Watch organization in the hours that followed the report by Amnesty International. Human Rights Watch D.C. and Human Rights Watch New York offices were separately contacted. Likewise, we contacted Kenneth Roth via two of his contact handles. Mr. Roth was approached for comment three separate times.

In addition to this, the Human Rights Watch Press was contacted at two separate contact handles. The Human Rights Watch Press public relations department did not return our request for comment at either contact handle at the time of this report. 

Of all the parties of the Human Rights Watch organization that were contacted, none responded to our comment request at the time of this report. Human Rights Watch has likewise been chillingly silent regarding the use of cluster munitions against Barda, publishing no such news release throughout October 27 or October 28 despite petitions to contact the organization regarding the incidents in Barda. The most recent follow up regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by Human Rights Watch was issued on October 25, and implicated Azerbaijan in the alleged use of banned munitions. 

Human Rights Watch has failed to acknowledge the incident through an official news release on its main site even though well-regarded western news outlets have now covered the incident. The story of the Barda shelling appeared in The New York Times under the world category. 

This is even though Azerbaijan saw a series of attacks that led to the death of children and mothers. ANews reported on October 29 that one of the victims of the Barda shelling attack was a young mother who had given birth only 22 days before. The young mother, identified as Mirzaliyeva, and her father, Mirazaliyev, were killed during the Wednesday attack. They were headed to a doctor’s appointment at the time. At the time that the young lady was killed, her husband, Elcin Ismailov, was fighting against Armenian forces on the Tartar frontline. He had returned to the front on September 27. 

Ismailov stated that he only saw his wife and new daughter for one day when he was allowed leave to visit them after the baby’s birth. 

“We traveled all over Azerbaijan for test-tube baby treatment last year. My wife got pregnant and we had a daughter, now 22 days old. We had been waiting for that moment for five years,” said Ismaliov to ANews, noting with regret how the mother who had tried so hard to conceive a child was now gone, and the girl will grow up without her. 

It was not only the civilian residents of Barda who were killed in the onslaught of cluster munitions. IFRC Europe reported that one of its workers was killed as events escalated. 

In the meantime, Armenia likewise continued to disregard all reports of the Barda shelling incident, electing to use the alleged targeting of peaceful civilians in Artsakh as talking points. Even though the Armenian press relations department continuously referred to the targeting of innocents on Artsakh, all photos submitted to the record revealed damaged buildings.

There was video footage likewise of scared people running from the scene during the events of the Artsakh maternity ward bomb incident, but it was stated on the record that the people were in a nearby building. No civilian casualties were reported from the maternity ward damages incident. Civilians were not directly targeted in this incident. Reports state that the Azerbaijani forces were attempting to target a war monument in the shelling to diffuse Armenian morale.