Armenia Azerbaijan Caucasus

Talking Points: War Crimes in the Karabakh

By | Rachel Brooks

December 12, 2020 

Image was obtained from local sources, fair use. This is an image of the Azerbaijani forces guard who was killed by Armenian forces.

This week, Amnesty International released a report on the war crimes of the Karabakh conflict that was accused of biasedly reporting only incidents that allegedly targeted Armenia. At the same time that videos surfaced of alleged war crimes against Armenian soldiers, footage emerged of alleged war crimes against Azerbaijani soldiers. All videos were exchanged over social networks such as Telegram. The Republic Underground News team is working to analyze these clips, to verify them, and to see what they reveal about the true status of war crimes in the Karabakh. 

The 2020 Karabakh conflict has exposed some nuances of the conflict. The western world’s humanitarian NGOs, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, continue to be accused of favoritism for the Armenian side of the conflict over the Karabakh region. The Karabakh region borders Armenia is legally and historically recognized as a region of Azerbaijan and is considered a crossroads of the Caucasus.

What was Amnesty’s stance? 

Amnesty released a report on December 10, 2020, that addressed the war crimes of “both Armenian and Azerbaijani” forces during the Karabakh conflict. The report began as follows: 

“Both Azerbaijani and Armenian forces committed war crimes during recent fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh, Amnesty International said, after verifying videos showing the decapitation of captives and the desecration of the corpses of opposing forces.

Amnesty International analyzed 22 videos that depict extrajudicial executions, the mistreatment of prisoners of war and other captives, and the desecration of the dead bodies of enemy soldiers.

Two videos show extrajudicial executions by decapitation by Azerbaijani military members, while another video shows the cutting of an Azerbaijani border guard’s throat that led to his death,” wrote Amnesty. 

The report then goes on to share screen captures of the alleged footage. 

Republic Underground News was able to obtain a copy of the video in which the Azerbaijani border guard’s throat was cut. We are analyzing it to verify it and for more information. The known facts of the situation portrayed in the video are as follows: 

The border guard’s name was Ismayil Irapov.

He was 18-years-old. 

He was with the Azerbaijani forces but was himself an ethnic Ingiloy, born in 2002 in the Aliabad village of Zaqatala. 

In the footage, Armenian soldiers laid him on his back, stuffed what appears to be a sock in his mouth, and pierced his throat with a knife, wiping the blood on his uniform jacket. 

The video was shared from the Telegram account of @kolorit-18, which had shared other such footage. 

The cameraman zoomed the camera in on the teenager’s face. From the footage, one can see his eyes go wide when he realizes what is about to happen, and then his face becomes motionless. 

One of the present soldiers is seen on film to kick Irapov in the face, at the moment after the knife exited his throat, and as he began to succumb to his fatal wound.  

Republic Underground News, out of respect for the family, has elected not to publicize the footage of the young guard’s death. Additional footage was obtained of Azerbaijani soldiers being mutilated by Armenian forces upon capture. Republic Underground News seeks to verify all the footage it obtains. 

The questions of western bias against Azerbaijani forces and citizens were inflamed by Amnesty’s report that focused more attention on the war crimes allegedly committed by Azerbaijani troops than by those allegedly committed by Armenian troops. This sparked a conversation about western biases in the region in general, which institutionally appear to favor Armenia. 

This week, Republic Underground interviewed Dr. Maxime Gauine, a French professor of history, to gauge his opinion of the French stance on Armenian rights. What he told us was surprising: 

France has had an “incoherent” foreign policy regarding Armenia and Azerbaijan. 

The deterioration of the relationship between France and Turkey influenced the French position toward Azerbaijan because Azerbaijani people are of predominantly Turkic ethnicity. 

The diplomatic situation is not as simple as “France chooses Armenia over Azerbaijan,’ 

The problem is that there is little direction in France’s Caucasus diplomacy and not favoritism. 

Get the full historical recap of the French policy in the South Caucasus, read Dr. Gauine’s interview. 

Also this week, local tipsters told us that they strongly believe the foreign diaspora of Armenia influence the conflict negatively. If left to settle their disputes on their own, without foreign intervention by people of the same ethnicities, Armenia and Azerbaijan, they said, could resolve their pattern of differences.