More than two dozen Artsakh civilian residents remain unaccounted for one year after the start of the 44-Day Way, Artsakh’s Human Rights Defender Gegham Stepanayn said.
“They are mostly elderly or disabled individuals who did not manage to leave their places of residence in the Hadrut, Shushi and Askeran districts [occupied by Azerbaijani forces,]” Stepanyan told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Wednesday.
“I presume that those individuals too were subjected to torture or killed, but their bodies have not been handed over to the Armenian side to date,” he said. “It is also possible that some of them remain in Azerbaijani captivity. Azerbaijan does not provide any real information about their whereabouts.”
Stepanyan also claimed that 38 other Artsakh civilians were executed or tortured to death after being captured by Azerbaijani forces. He said their bodies recovered by the Artsakh authorities bore traces of violence.
On Tuesday, Stepanyan’s office published an updated version of a report detailing the killing of civilians in Artsakh by Azerbaijani armed forces—either by targeted strikes or after their invasion of the civilian settlements of Artsakh—from September 27, 2020 to the same day this year.
The report says that 80 civilians killed by Azerbaijani forces have been identified, adding that 42 civilians were killed from long-range missile strikes by Azerbaijani forces, including rocket-propelled grenades, shelling, bombardment, and sabotage by subversive groups. Sone 38 civilians were killed in captivity or at least under the control of Azerbaijan from physical violence, stabbing, beheading, close-range shooting and other means.
Out of the 80 civilians identified, 68 are men and 12 are women. From this group, 52 civilians were killed at their place of residence, 15 at a public place, 11 at work and one person was killed in an Azerbaijani prison. The majority of dead civilians were over the age of 63.
The report also details the recorded cases of 163 civilian injuries, most of which resulted from strikes that killed others.
On Wednesday, Artsakh’s Permanent Representative to Armenia Sergei Ghazaryan told the Armenian parliament’s standing committee on human rights and public affairs that more than 2,000 Armenian religious, cultural and historic monuments were endangered after falling under Azerbaijani occupation. He also said that 185 village and seven cities have been surrendered to Azerbaijan.
According to Ghazaryan, the endangered monuments include 13 monasteries, 122 churches, 52 castles and 523 cross-stones.
“127 school libraries, 12 museums with more than 20,000 objects, have been left in the lost territories of Artsakh,” added Ghazaryan, who also said that since the November 9 statement, vandalism and destruction of Armenian cultural monuments have increased, citing the deliberate defacement of the Sourp Ghazanchetsots Cathedral and the St. John the Baptist (Hovhannes Mkrtich) Church.