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STEPANAKERT, Artsakh (ChurchMilitant.com) - On July 12, Church Militant reporter Trey Blanton was the first American journalist to enter the Republic of Artsakh since Nov. 10, 2020, when a Russian-brokered cease-fire was signed between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Church Militant is credited by members of Artsakh's government with having provided the most prolific and accurate reporting on the nearly seven-week conflict of any Western media — despite a wealth of conflicting propaganda and misinformation emanating from the fog of war.
Part I of this exclusive Church Militant report shared testimony from families who lost loved ones during the conflict with Azerbaijan.
Part II provided interviews with government officials and local Artsakh media.
For access to the full report, with additional historical precedent and analysis, CLICK HERE.
As of Dec. 22, when the initial report on human rights abuses was compiled, 61 civilians had been killed by Azerbaijani forces. Of those, 40 were killed in or around their homes. Two civilians were killed in an Azerbaijani prison. Furthermore, 21 of the 61 civilians were killed at some point while held in captivity by Azerbaijan.
The youngest civilian killed was Victoria G. — a 9-year-old girl. Victoria was killed on Sept. 27, 2020, in the town of Martuni when Azerbaijan attacked. Victoria was killed by shrapnel in front of her home. The girl's neighbor, Ellada Balayan (born in 1961) was also killed. Victoria's 2-year-old brother, her mother and her neighbor Manush Avanesyan were injured in the attack.
Lesmonya Stepanyan was born in 1941 and lived in the town of Hadrut. Stepanyan lost her arm during the first war for Artsakh independence in the 1990s. She was killed by Azerbaijan on Sept. 27, 2020 — by a suicide drone in front of her home.
Grisha Narinyan, born in 1992, was killed Oct. 1, 2020 in the town of Martuni. Narinyan died from shrapnel when Azerbaijan shelled the town. At the time, Narinyan was escorting a group of journalists, four of whom were injured. The targeting of local and foreign journalists by the Turks will be further addressed in this report.
Ashot Hovhannisyan was born in 1958 and lived in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. Hovhannisyan was transporting food to the civilian population in the town Tigranakert on Oct. 10, 2020 when his car was targeted by Azerbaijani forces. Hovhannisyan was killed in an explosion.
Yuri Adamyan was born in 1995 and bred cattle in the village of Tyak. On Oct. 10, 2020, Adamyan and another resident, Benik Hakobyan (age 73), were captured by Azerbaijan's military. Both civilians were tied up and executed by gunfire in the Hadrut town square.
Yuri Asriyan was born in 1938 and lived in the village of Azokh. Asriyan could not flee his village due to health concerns. He was captured by Azerbaijan soldiers on Oct. 21, 2020 after they invaded the village. In December, video circulated online showing Asriyan being beheaded while he pleaded for his life. Asriyan's body has not been recovered from Azerbaijan.
On Oct. 1, 2020, four journalists were injured while covering the conflict. Two of the journalists are French citizens. Azerbaijan is accused of deliberately targeting reporters — who wore distinctive clothing and marked vehicles to identify themselves.
Media organizations responded to the targeted assault, calling on the "international community to resolutely condemn the war unleashed by Azerbaijan and demand from ... Baku to stop attacks on civilians and media representatives performing their professional duty."
In another statement, media organizations respond to the assistant of Azerbaijan's president who said the journalists were operating in Artsakh illegally, saying, "Azerbaijan, with few exceptions, does not accredit the foreign media representatives that would like to cover the conflict, making every attempt to impede their work on the Armenian side by life-and-health-threatening actions. This also infringes the right of the public to obtain information under martial law."
Statements allowed to remain on social media, including Facebook and Twitter, show Azerbaijan citizens engage in hate speech, even against children:
Elmeddin Muradlı: "If you see an Armenian child, will you kill him? I think in some cases abortion is not a sin."
Sona Əmirova: "An Armenian child should not be pitied, as the Armenian child grows up and becomes an Armenian boy."
Afa Ceferova: "Surely, I will kill. My hands are itching to do it."
Kentucky Fried Chicken advertised: One free order of french fries if you presented a ticket from Baku's Military Park Museum, where tortured wax Armenian figures are on display for children to abuse.
Extensive documentation of Azerbaijan's human rights violations has been submitted to international political bodies. The bulk of the evidence was acquired from videos and pictures shared by Azerbaijani soldiers themselves to their social media accounts. The evidence is extremely graphic, but, for academic research and to refute Azerbaijani claims of peaceful intentions, may be viewed. Some notable examples of documented human rights violations are as follows:
For access to the full report, with historical precedent and analysis, CLICK HERE.