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Interview with Dr. Leyla Baghirzada on Armenian aggressions

Interview by Irina Tsukerman

September 29, 2020

The interviewers questions are in bold font throughout.

Images courtesy of the guest.

Interviewee Introduction:

I am Dr. Leyla Baghirzada, a physician at one of the Calgary’s teaching hospitals in Alberta, Canada. I am an Azerbaijani-Canadian, living in Canada for the past 18 years and deeply concerned about the latest events in my homeland.

As a member of the Azerbaijani diaspora, please give us a few words about the latest attack by Armenia in Azerbaijan.

As all of my compatriots both in Canada and around the world, I strongly condemn an Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territories for the past 30 years, including the latest attack. This aggression by Armenia against Azerbaijan is a blatant violation of the current ceasefire mandate as well as a violation of fundamental norms and principles of international law. The continued illegal presence of Armenia’s armed forces in Nagorni Karabakh as well as 7 Azerbaijani regions around it is a serious threat to regional peace, security, and stability. The responsibility for the current escalation and resulting civilian and military casualties lies fully with the political-military leadership of Armenia.

This latest attack was clearly well planned in advance resulting in hiring contract killers from Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. A group of Armenians from Lebanon was settled to the occupied Azerbaijani territories in September 2020. Armenia’s resettlement policy was clearly aiming to create an artificial demographic situation in the occupied territories. It is also the continuation of the most recent Armenian provocation-the military assault in the direction of Azerbaijan’s Tovuz region on 12-16 July, 2020. This aggression should not only be stopped but the justice should prevail and ALL occupied territories returned to Azerbaijan.

As all of my compatriots both in Canada and around the world, I strongly condemn an Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territories for the past 30 years, including the latest attack. This aggression by Armenia against Azerbaijan is a blatant violation of the current ceasefire mandate as well as a violation of fundamental norms and principles of international law. The continued illegal presence of Armenia’s armed forces in Nagorni Karabakh as well as 7 Azerbaijani regions around it is a serious threat to regional peace, security, and stability. The responsibility for the current escalation and resulting civilian and military casualties lies fully with the political-military leadership of Armenia. This latest attack was clearly well planned in advance resulting in hiring contract killers from Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. A group of Armenians from Lebanon was settled to the occupied Azerbaijani territories in September 2020. Armenia’s resettlement policy was clearly aiming to create an artificial demographic situation in the occupied territories. It is also the continuation of the most recent Armenian provocation-the military assault in the direction of Azerbaijan’s Tovuz region on 12-16 July, 2020. This aggression should not only be stopped but the justice should prevail

What is the effect of the events on the diaspora community?

We, as Azerbaijani community in Canada, have been closely following the events in Azerbaijan and were deeply saddened by the losses sustained among the military personnel of the Azerbaijani Army and civilians both in July 2020 and in the latest Armenian attack.

Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territories is a very sensitive topic for all Azerbaijanis around the world and it is extremely frustrating that this illegal invasion of Armenia in Azerbaijan has been going on almost 30 years. As a result of the ceasefire in May 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia pledged to resolve the conflict peacefully and to do it with the help of mediators – the OSCE Minsk Group.

Unfortunately, over all these years, official Yerevan has not shown the political will for the peaceful liberation of the occupied land. The OSCE Minsk Group has also demonstrated its total failure in facilitating discussions and, in fact. Like all Azerbaijanis around the world, we are demanding liberation of the Azerbaijani land occupied by Armenia and hoping that it will be done with minimal losses of the military personnel and civilians.

Unfortunately, the losses are inevitable in any military action but every lost life is a human tragedy and we mourn the loss of each soldier heroically defending our Motherland and each innocent civilian killed by the Armenian aggressors.

What can you tell us about the humanitarian needs of the communities affected by the attacks?

Azerbaijani communities affected by the Armenian military attack are in the state of humanitarian emergency. They absolutely have to have their basic needs covered: shelter, access to clean water and food and access to basic medical care.

Ideally, the civilians should be evacuated from the area of military action. Unlike Azerbaijan, Armenia is violating Geneva Convention and deliberately targeting civilians in the border communities, therefore Azerbaijani government should take responsibility of protecting its citizens against the violent attacks of Armenian military troops.

What can be done to help families who lost loved ones and people who have been injured as a result of the attacks?

Losing a loved one, especially in the setting of brutal military attack, has a huge long lasting impact on the families. I think, the minimum that could be done for the survivors in the immediate future is ensuring they have a safe place to live, have food and clothing, as well as access to the medical care and rehabilitation services to recover from the injuries. They are also in great need of mental health support and counselling to prevent development of post-traumatic stress disorder.

In the long run, I am a strong believer that the families of the military personnel and civilians killed in these attacks deserve social and financial support from the government such as pension, certain benefits, and disability payments. Those families have not only been left emotionally crippled but also have lost the breadwinners; therefore the government of Azerbaijan should make every accommodation to ensure their needs are met.

What actions do you hope to see from the US/international community?

The minimum we expect from the US/International community is to be unbiased in assessing information related to the latest events.

We demand US and international community to study the history and facts related to Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territories over the past 30 years and acknowledge that Armenia violated fundamental norms and principles of international law, the international humanitarian law, including Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the United Nations Security Council resolutions 822, 853, 874, 884 of 1993 demanding the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.

We ask that the United States and the international community strongly condemn Armenia’s aggression and provocative activities against Azerbaijan and force Armenia to comply with the international law, including its commitments under the international humanitarian law.

There has been a lot of propaganda in particular about the alleged connection of these events to larger regional issues. What message would you give to counter false information and incorrect perception about the latest events?

The latest attack is just another example of escalation of Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan. Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani land has been going on for the last 30 years. Nagorno-Karabakh is not a disputed territory.

This is the territory of Azerbaijan both historically and officially recognized by the whole world, including Armenia. Armenia has occupied not only Nagorno-Karabakh, but also seven Azerbaijani regions around it, which Armenia was not going to give up all these years peacefully. The war is not on the territory of Armenia.

The Azerbaijani army is not trying to seize the territory of Armenia or any part of it. The war that began with the occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan more than 30 years ago and resulted in occupation of 20% of the territory of Azerbaijan, is the liberating one to get the lands back to Azerbaijan.

This liberation could and should have happened 30 years ago but Armenian lobby around the world put all the financial and political efforts to prevent it from happening. Over all the years, Azerbaijan had repeatedly demonstrated adherence to peaceful resolution to the conflict and never violated the ceasefire.

However, the negotiation process has completely frozen years ago and Armenian actions constantly contradicted the peaceful settlement of the conflict. Moreover, the threats over the past months that Armenia is prepared to advance its troops even further into Azerbaijani territories have become real as the world community has witnessed the brutal attack of Armenian troops on the Azerbaijani civilians on 27.09.2020. Therefore, the only long-awaited solution to this injustice is to liberate the occupied Azerbaijani territories as requested by all previous UN resolutions and then resume peaceful negotiations if Armenia is willing to.