The recent conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region has already led to condemnation against both sides for their actions; both are accused of the indiscriminate use of cluster munitionsand of the killing of prisoners.
This has led to Amnesty International calling for an international investigation into the actions of both parties. Amnesty states that they have viewed twenty-two videos that depict extrajudicial executions, the mistreatment of prisoners of war and other captives, and desecration of the dead bodies of enemy soldiers. However, observers are sure that these represent just a portion of the actual numbers of crimes that have been committed.
Most alarming is that new material continues to be filmed and released, even though the fighting has been finished for over a month. Videos are coming to light on social media, showing the abuse and sometimes murder of Armenian civilians who live in the territory that has been taken by Azerbaijan.
In one incident an old man in civilian clothes is held down by two soldiers, tentatively identified as Azerbaijan special forces from their uniforms and speech. As he begs for mercy they slowly cut his throat.
The brazen actions of Azerbaijani forces are deeply concerning, with videos of beheadings being particularly common, leading to comparison to the atrocities of ISIS in Syria and Iraq during their heyday.
The fact that those committing these crimes are quite happy to do so on film, without even covering their faces, gives indication that the perpetrators do not fear any consequences for their actions. This is despite the Azerbaijani Prosecutor General’s Office announcing three weeks ago that they would prosecute any of their service personnel found to have committed war crimes. Considering that Azerbaijan has in the past contrived to assist members of its armed forces who have been convicted of murder, their confidence may be justified.