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Despite the 35,000 removed since the Second Karabakh War ended, more than 120 people have been killed by Armenian landmines

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The Committee to Protect Journalists declared, “The killing of Azerbaijani journalists Maharram Ibrahimov and Siraj Abishev in Nagorno-Karabakh was a needless tragedy. Armenian authorities should share their landmine maps with the members of the press to ensure that no other journalists will become victims of this conflict.” (Photo: Qafqazinfo)

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On June 4, 2021, in the village of Susuzlug in the Kelbajar region, Siraj Abishov and Maharram Ibrahimov, employees of the Azerbaijan State News Agency and Azerbaijan Television, were blown up by a mine when performing their official duties as members of the press.  Another Azerbaijani official with them was also killed. 

This incident was condemned by Israeli Ambassador to Azerbaijan George Deek: “We are deeply saddened by the news of the death of two journalists by a landmine. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims.” 

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Teresa Ribeiro, also condemned what happened to these two Azerbaijani journalists: “The tragic death of Maharram Ibrahimov and Siraj Abishov is terrible news and I extend my deepest sympathy and condolences to their relatives and colleagues.”     

Since the Second Karabakh War ended, more than 120 people have been killed by landmines, even though 35,000 landmines have been removed to date and the death toll just continues to rise. Deputy Chairman of the Press Council of Azerbaijan Umud Mirzayev stressed that Azerbaijani journalists’ organizations and media representatives demand that Armenia refrain from violating human rights and freedoms and provide maps of mined areas: “We call on our colleagues abroad to react seriously to this fact and to put pressure on the Republic of Armenia to provide maps of mined areas.”

As the Committee to Protect Journalists declared, “The killing of Azerbaijani journalists Maharram Ibrahimov and Siraj Abishev in Nagorno-Karabakh was a needless tragedy.  Armenian authorities should share their landmine maps with the members of the press to ensure that no other journalists will become victims of this conflict.”

In an official statement, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs added: “It must also be noted that extensive construction work has begun in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan. Foreign companies are interested in the area. As a result, there is an influx of journalists from different countries to the region; therefore, Armenia’s refusal to provide the mine maps is also a threat to the lives of foreign media representatives. This is a deliberate act, a direct threat to human values.”

Yaakov Abramov, who heads the Azerbaijani Jewish community in the United States, stated: “Armenian armed forces continue to commit criminal acts against civilians by mining these territories in gross violation of the basic norms and principles of international humanitarian law, including the requirements of the Geneva Convention of 1949. Despite the three-sided agreement on the cessation of hostilities signed on November 10, people continue to die and mines continue to explode, killing civilians. Subversive groups from Armenia continue to penetrate inside Azerbaijani territory, raise flags of non-existent entities, continue to ignore UN Security Council resolutions and refuse to provide maps of minefields.”

In the eyes of Abramov, the West has refrained from condemning Armenia sufficiently over the death of these two journalists: “Europe is silent. But if they say anything, they only condemn Azerbaijan. This reminds me of how the whole of Europe is unanimously condemning Israel while not saying a single word about the more than 4,000 rockets fired at Israel during the last war by terrorists from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.”

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“What happened to the two journalists is heartbreaking,” said Adika Iqbal, who heads the Azerbaijan Friendship Organization. “Deliberately planting landmines is a gross violation of Armenia’s international obligations. They immediately need to hand over the landmine maps, so that more lives can be saved.”

In fact, Azerbaijan has filed a petition to the European Court on Human Rights, hoping to compel Armenia to hand over the landmine maps. Chingiz Asgarov, who represented the Republic of Azerbaijan before the ECHR, insisted that “Armenia’s refusal to hand over the minefield maps has no strategic, legal or moral merits, and solely intends to cause loss of life and suffering to Azerbaijani civilians in the region. Armenia’s actions also endanger Armenians who continue to live in the liberated territories.  We once again urge Armenia to live up to their international legal obligations by releasing the minefield maps and any relevant information.”

Ayoob Kara, who served as Israel’s Communication, Cyber and Satellite Minister, concurred: “It is very tragic that two Azerbaijani journalists were killed in a landmine explosion in the Kelbajar region. Their untimely deaths represent a violation of humanitarian values and freedom of the press. It is of critical importance for the fragile peace agreement that was established between Azerbaijan and Armenia that Armenia hand over the landmine maps at the soonest possible date, so that no more innocent civilians will get killed.”

Rachel Avraham is a political analyst working at the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights.  She is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings at the American, Israeli and Arab Media.”  

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Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

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