Humanitarian upheavals in the Azerbaijani territories occupied by Armenia

CC BY SA 4.0 International

By Charles Nwoke,

Nigeria Correspondent/ Staff Reporter, Abakaliki, Nigeria

September 28, 2020

Above, Wiki Loves Earth Image of Tovuz, in 2015. A place of seeming peace is the scene of great human pain. CC By SA 4.0 International.

At around 6 am on September 27, 2020, the Armenian armed forces violated the ceasefire and intensively fired on the positions of the Azerbaijani Army in the frontline using large caliber machine guns and sniper rifles. This appears to be another deliberate and targeted provocation by the Armenian armed forces manifested in opening fire on the civilians densely populated in the front-line areas and civil facilities. Due to the provocation of Armenian invading forces, there are casualties among the civilian population and military personnel of Azerbaijan.

Many houses and civil facilities were severely damaged. Starting from September 27, the center of Azerbaijan’s Tartar district, including densely populated villages have been under heavy artillery fire by the Armenian armed forces beginning from around 7 am morning. The city police station, a courthouse and civilian facilities of Tartar district are chosen as targets. This once again shows the ugly face of Armenian fascism. As a result of Armenian shelling the whole family (5 persons) was killed in Naftalan, including 13- year-old boy Shahriyar Gurbanov and 14-year-old girl Fidan Gurbanova. 

The command of the Azerbaijani Army decided to launch a counter-offensive operation of Azerbaijani troops along the entire front to suppress the combat activity of the Armenian armed forces and ensure the safety of the civilian population. The Azerbaijani army continues to counterattack in various positions of the front. As a result of the counter-attacks, a number of territories were liberated.

The Azerbaijani economy in recent years has impressively advanced with Baku, the capital city of the country, skyrocketing high in development to improve progression. The presence of educated citizens, basic amenities, and skyscrapers in the city are a clear evidence of what would be seen in any developed nation.

Azerbaijan, despite its challenges, seeks to become a mediator of humanitarian presence in a region fraught with violence. The disruptions to citizen life also leave the strain of friction upon the economy, which is largely dependent upon oil trade. 

For over a decade, the oil price boom that was witnessed all over the world brought Azerbaijan a favorable GDP growth and drastically reduced her poverty rate and unemployment. The nation became a major international investor among its neighbors, and equally saw development of non – oil sectors of her economy. This development gave her a facelift in the committee of nations when she gained a seat on the United Nations Security Council as a non – permanent member. Azerbaijan has maintained this position to this date. 

During the 2012 to 2016 global economic meltdown and decline in oil price, Azerbaijan’s economy was stricken, because the country’s economy is heavily dependent on crude oil.

There was public outcry indicating growing discontent with social inequality, corruption, and lack of opportunities and means of livelihood in the country. The dwindling oil price made Azerbaijan’s economy to struggle, especially in this global COVID-19 pandemic era. 

Another significant challenge confronting Azerbaijanis is the growing influence of more conservative forms of Islam – both Shiite and Sunni. Azerbaijan with its population dominantly Muslim has new generation of believers who are very active. These Muslim faithfuls could be manipulated by the hyperactive Shiite state on its Southern boundary and the Salafi insurgency raging on its Northern flank with the North Caucasus.

Also, systematic human rights abuses and retrogression in the democratisation, has been extensively reported by different groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Limitations on freedom of expression, gathering and association in Azerbaijan territories are all violations of human rights meted on the Azerbaijan citizens. Protesters were on different occasions scattered without the government attending to their plights, which most of them resulted in using social media. These human rights abuses have hampered the business ties and relationship between the US government and Azerbaijan.

Unarguably, war has always dealt a heavy blow to any nation that fought a war, and the wound never heals.   That’s why all over the world, people try their best to abhor war and embrace peace because of its disastrous consequences.

The age-long conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan has claimed many lives and many properties have been destroyed in the border towns, where both nations have fought over Nagorno – Karabakh since the late Soviet era. Ever since the end of that war, the conflict has not stopped. 

Like most former Soviet Union, Azerbaijan due to her rapid economic development has witnessed negative environmental impacts, including the inefficient use of mineral resources. Local crude oil manufacturers have often absconded government regulations, and have not prevented oil leakage and spillage into the Caspian sea and farm land. The oil industries pollute the environment; they pollute the air, water, soil and forest reserve.

This is the major problem facing Azerbaijani habitat. Due to crude oil activities going on in the country, trees suffer being burnt in their numbers during fire outbreaks causing deforestation; water bodies are polluted at reckless abandon, such that Azerbaijan citizens have no good drinking water, and the aquatic animals are wiped out.

Oil spills in Azerbaijan farm land have destroyed her soil and crops. Natives hardly plant their crops, since these plants when planted often wither and die off as a result of crude oil spillage, application of other chemicals like herbicides. This condition has contributed to the high cost of food in the country and increased hunger in the land. See information GRIDA for information on the “thousands” of abandoned oil wells documented since 2007. 

Furthermore, the air pollution caused by smoke from both oil and non-oil industries cum human activities in the area have greatly affected the atmosphere and weather conditions of the country. Air pollution poses serious risk on both plant, animal and human health, and the impact on Azerbaijan Republic citizens is greatly tormenting.

Environment and peace are important in human existence. The significance of peace cannot be overemphasized. Therefore, it is imperative for us to ensure that we stop any activity that would have a negative impact on our environment in order to make it habitable for us.

There is a need to embrace peace anywhere we are, especially among Azerbaijan citizens as we all know that there is no progress in any environment where there is no peace.