Displaying items by tag: Azerbaijan
Journalists and activists are under constant risk in too many parts of the world. Recently the extent and all-consuming nature of the threats was revealed when new technology was discovered. An Israeli company invented spyware that can do everything from extracting data to inconspicuously recording live audio and video. They insist their technology is intended for use against criminals and terrorists. But the Pegasus Project shows that it has been used by some governments to target journalists, activists, and political opponents. Journalist Khadija Ismayilova led the investigations which exposed Danske Bank moving suspicious cash to launder Azerbaijan’s international image. US$230 billion in dirty money was funnelled through the bank’s accounts in twelve years. Yet full accountability for the apparent anti-money laundering failures has been impossible to achieve – until this week. The European Commission has proposed an anti-money laundering agency, which could be a much-needed gamechanger.
Armenian-Lebanese Vicken Euljekjian, a civilian prisoner of war captured when Azerbaijan invaded Nagorno-Karabakh and seized new territory, has been indicted on three counts: participation as a mercenary in a military conflict, committing terrorism, and illegally crossing into Azerbaijan. These charges are falsely leveled against Euljekjian. They are part of the joint attempt by Azerbaijan and Turkey to justify their genocidal actions in Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan invaded Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2020, with the support of Turkish-backed Syrian mercenaries. The brutality of the invasion demonstrated an intent of ethnic-religious cleansing towards Karabakh’s Armenian Christian community, whose presence in the region predates the Islamic Turkish presence.
Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan has warned of an attempted military coup, after the country's armed forces said he and his cabinet must resign. The army ‘must obey the people and elected authorities’, he told thousands of supporters in the capital Yerevan. His opponents held a rival rally. The military's top brass was angered by the PM's sacking of a commander. Mr Pashinyan has faced protests after losing last year's bloody conflict with Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh - an enclave internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but controlled by ethnic Armenians since a 1994 truce. During the six weeks of fighting late in 2020, Azerbaijan not only recaptured areas around the enclave but also took the key town of Shusha inside it. Under the Russian-brokered deal that emerged shortly afterwards, Azerbaijan keeps the areas it has captured.
Armenia has begun handing over liberated territory to Azerbaijan as part of a peace accord that ended six weeks of fierce fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Residents of Azerbaijan's Kalbajar district have been occupied by Armenian forces for decades. Now they begin a mass exodus of the mountainous province in the days leading up to the official withdrawal day at the end of November. Some set their homes on fire rather than leave them for Azerbaijanis. A Russian peacekeeping contingent has set up checkpoints and positions as part of the terms that Armenia yields territory which Azerbaijan's forces gained in the fighting. Putin told his Azerbaijani counterpart to take care of churches, monasteries and shrines in areas that Azerbaijan gets under this cease-fire agreement. Moscow's peacekeeping mission, which the military said included soldiers who previously were stationed in Syria, comprises some 2,000 troops for a renewable five-year mission.
The Azeri-Turkey offensive is worsening, with cluster bombs falling on innocent civilians even as they sheltered in churches. There is justifiable concern among Armenian Christians of a rising threat of ethnic cleansing from their historic Christian land. On 1 November the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights warned that the indiscriminate attacks on densely populated areas with associated loss of civilian life and destruction of infrastructure ‘contravenes international humanitarian law’ and ‘could be a war crime’. Recent reports indicate that large supplies of Israeli-built weapons, including devastating ‘kamikaze drones’ and unmanned aerial vehicles have been supplied to Azerbaijan and deployed against Christian civilians. Since September 90,000 Armenians, over half the region’s population of 144,000, have fled the conflict to take refuge in Armenia. Pray that the supply of military weapons to Azerbaijan will cease immediately and for guarantees that Israeli technology, including lethal drone strikes, will not be used in the conflict.
BAKU/YEREVAN -- Deadly fighting between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces over the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh region has intensified as both sides blame each other for the collapse of a third attempt at a cease-fire.
Azerbaijan and Armenian reported civilian casualties in urban areas on October 28, two days after a U.S.-brokered cease-fire was to go into effect.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said 21 civilians were killed and 70 injured in Smerch multiple-rocket system attacks on the city of Barda, located in central Azerbaijan outside the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Four civilians were reportedly killed in another attack on the city on the previous day.
The Armenian Defense Ministry accused Azerbaijani forces of attacking civilian areas in Nagorno-Karabakh, including the shelling of a hospital and maternity clinic in the enclave’s main city, Stepanakert. The rocket attacks caused damage but inflicted no casualties. One civilian was killed and two others were injured in a rocket attack on the nearby town of Shushi (Susa).
Both sides denied the other's claims that civilians were being targeted.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said urban areas had been hit and that one volunteer from the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society was killed in the shelling. Two other volunteers were injured.
"Alongside thousands of civilians, the ICRC witnessed intense shelling in urban areas on both sides of the front line today, leading to death, destruction, injuries, and desolation," it said in a statement.
"These latest exchanges signal that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict risks spiraling out of control," it warned.
Both sides have claimed the other is targeting civilians during a month of intense clashes that have drawn in world powers seeking to halt the worst fighting the region since a 1994 cease-fire.
More at: https://www.rferl.org/a/armenia-azerbaijan-urged-to-seek-lasting-cease-fire-as-diplomatic-efforts-continue/30916763.html
Pray for the hostilities to cease and for a return to negotiations.
Pray for the safety of civilians living in the disputed regions.
Pray that external interference will be brought to light and that this war does not escalate further.
Please, earnestly pray for the people of these countries, so that God's peace may descend on the borders and reconciliation may be established between the neighboring fighting countries.
Fighting continues despite an agreed ceasefire; the Red Cross reports ‘hundreds killed’ in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkey and Israel are offering drone support and technologies. Azerbaijan wants to gain control of as much of its claimed territory as possible. Armenians have mobilised to stop it. The Red Cross reports indiscriminate shelling by both sides into towns and cities far from contested areas. On 21 October Russian bombers made a powerful air strike on a convoy and assembly point with Syrian mercenaries in Nagorno-Karabakh. However researchers found old video footage re-edited and wrongly labelled as portraying recent events. While the majority of online media is news reports, official government information or campaign slogans and images, there is doctored or old footage. Disinformation in conflicts is not uncommon, where accessing accurate information can prove difficult. Pray for peace in this part of the Caucasus: it’s a crisis entangling Russia, Turkey, Israel, Iran, and Azeri and Armenian diasporas.
The long-simmering conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region erupted on 27 September, with over 100 confirmed deaths already in the fiercest fighting in years. Many are asking, ‘Will it escalate into an all-out war that threatens regional stability and drags in major outside players?’ https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-54356336 For years, mainly Christian Armenia and Muslim-majority Azerbaijan have been at odds over the rugged Nagorno-Karabakh highlands. Between 1988 and 1994 the two sides fought a bloody war to control the enclave, which was part of Azerbaijan but mainly populated by ethnic Armenian Christians. The conflict resulted in over 30,000 dead, a million displaced, and a fragile truce that left Nagorno-Karabakh as a de facto independent state, recognised by Armenia but not by most other countries, including Azerbaijan. The recent violence sparked an uproar in Azerbaijan. Thousands took to the streets calling for the army to ‘recapture’ Nagorno-Karabakh.
On 6 July, Azerbaijan’s president said peace talks with Armenia to settle the long-standing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict had stalled. He called talks between the countries' foreign ministers ‘pointless’. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has long been trying to mediate a settlement of the conflict, which dates back to the 1990s. On 12 July clashes involving tanks and artillery erupted again on the border between the two ex-Soviet republics. On 14 July Azerbaijan's military reported four deaths, but said it had destroyed an Armenian fortification and artillery, while Armenia had not reported any deaths on its side in the clashes. Azerbaijan’s president said, ‘Armenia's political and military leadership will bear the entire responsibility for the provocation’, while Armenia accused its neighbour of ‘using artillery in an attack aimed at capturing Armenian positions’.
Azerbaijan’s major religion is Shia Islam. Churches developed in the wake of the Soviet Union’s dissolution. The economy is dependent on oil and gas, but corruption and an authoritarian government have impeded economic growth. Pray for President Aliyev and his government to provide solutions to widespread corruption and for Christians to address the country’s societal problems, including abortion. Families are the biggest persecutors of Christians in a shame-honour culture; those who leave Islam are considered to have brought shame on the family. The government also pressurises Christians with heavy fines. For many years, churches have been denied the ability to register legally. Secret police attend every church meeting and raid ‘illegal’ ones. The Old Testament and Christian literature are banned. Church leaders must now submit lists of members’ names; many think the information will be used later against congregations or pastors.