YEREVAN (Panorama.am)—10 years have passed, but the murder of Armenian officer Gurgen Margaryan by Azerbaijani Ramil Safarov has not received adequate international assessment, says Larisa Alaverdyan, first Human Rights Ombudsman of Armenia and current director of the pressure group Against Legal Arbitrariness.
“I believe that the relevant institutions of the Republic of Armenia should prepare a package of case related documents and appeal to international organizations: the EU, the Council of Europe, and the UN. This issue should receive an adequate international assessment, because it is not only about the murder of an Armenian officer but also about the politics of xenophobia, including against Armenians, as carried out by Azerbaijan,” Alaverdyan said.
According to Alaverdyan, after Safarov was pardoned, the Armenian side should have immediately sued Azerbaijan.
Alaverdyan strongly believes that Ramil Safarov fulfilled an order from his state, which is why he was subsequently rewarded.
According to her, the absence of adequate international assessment is a moral hazard when Azerbaijan feels no vulnerability around the Karabakh negotiation table, whereas after the murderer was pardoned many forums should have become inaccessible to Azerbaijan, she said.
“The Murder of Gurgen Margaryan should be observed in the context of the politics of xenophobia. The international community should realize that in case of impunity the axe may rise against the national minorities of Azerbaijan. This is a threat not only to the Armenians but also to the security of the region as a whole,” she added.
On January 11, 2004, Gurgen Margaryan left for Budapest, Hungary, to participate in a three-month English language course which was part of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. On February 19, he was axed, while asleep, by his fellow Azerbaijani participant, Lieutenant Ramil Safarov. The murder took place at 5 am, while the victim was asleep.
A postmortem concluded that Safarov had delivered sixteen blows to Margaryan’s face, nearly severing his head from his body.
Safarov, who was sentenced to life imprisonment, was transferred back to his home country on August 31, 2012, under an extradition agreement. Although Azerbaijan formally pledged that the life sentence handed down to him in Hungary would be directly continued when he was returned to his homeland, the Azerbaijani president granted him a pardon and formally recognized him as a “national hero” upon his arrival.
Because of Safarov’s extradition to Azerbaijan the President of Armenia Serzh Sarkisian announced the suspension of diplomatic relations with Hungary.
Safarov’s extradition, pardon, and glorification in Azerbaijan was condemned by the US president Barack Obama, the US State Department, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Russia and France, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the Secretary General of CSTO, NATO, and international human rights organizations. In addition to that, the European Parliament adopted a condemning resolution on September 13, 2012.
Wednesday, February 19, is the 10th anniversary of the Armenian officer’s death. For the 10th anniversary of Gurgen Margaryan’s murder, the Ordinary Genocide project has prepared a video called “Azerbaijan: Racism without Borders.” The video is in English and Russian and concisely presents the history of the murder that stunned the world, and the events following the incident and Safarov’s glorification in Azerbaijan. It is significant that the authors chose Symphony No. 7 (“Leningrad”) by Dmitri Shostakovich, also known as “The Invasion of the Nazis” as a soundtrack for the video.
The Ordinary Genocide project is being implemented by the Information and Public Relations Center under the Armenian President’s administration.