19 children separated from their parents and families due to Azerbaijan’s blocking of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) for more than a month, returned home from Armenia on Tuesday, January 17, Karabakh Human Rights Defender Gegham Stepanyan said on social media.
The children were accompanied by the Russian peacekeeping troops.
According to Stepanyan, the vehicle was stopped by Azerbaijanis in the area under Shushi-Karin Tak in the cordoned-off part of the road, where “the Azerbaijani government agents pretending to be "eco-activists" and the journalists serving them are stationed”. Then, 10-15 Azerbaijanis with face masks on, cameras in hand, and in civilian clothes approached the car. Some of them rushed into the vehicle and filmed the children in the car.
“As a result of the provocative actions of the Azerbaijanis, there was a commotion in the car, and consequently, one of the children fainted,” the Ombudsman said.
“Due to actions undertaken by Russian peacekeepers, the Azerbaijanis were removed from the car, and the vehicle continued its journey.
Then, while passing through the blocked section of the road, Azerbaijanis demonstratively shouted in the direction of the vehicles transporting the children.”
Stepanyan said the “impudent” behavior of the agents of the Azerbaijani government “is an arbitrary and illegal interference in the private life and psychological integrity of children. It is an illegal encroachment on their integrity and reputation. These criminal actions completely reveal their true goals and desires.”
“The ethnic hatred of Azerbaijanis towards Armenians knows no boundaries, targeting even minor children,” he said.
“This provocative and criminal action once again proves the fact that the road is blocked and the impossibility of safe travel on it, even when accompanied by Russian peacekeeping troops.”
Since December 12, the sole road connecting Nagorno Karabakh to Armenia - the Lachin Corridor - has been blocked by self-described Azerbaijani environmentalists. Karabakh residents have reported food and fuel shortages, while hospital patients don't have access to essential medicines, with only a handful allowed transfer to facilities in Armenia proper.