FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 19, 2019
Contact: Sevag Belian (613) 235-2622
Ottawa – 15 years ago today, Armenian Army lieutenant, Gurgen Margaryan, was brutally axed to death by Azerbaijani lieutenant Ramil Safarov, while both men were participating in a NATO-sponsored course in Hungary. Despite political pressure and continuous calls upon the international community to hold Safarov accountable for his heinous crime, the state of Azerbaijan pardoned him after a short imprisonment, declaring him a hero of the nation. The ANCC condemns the pardoning and rewarding of this convicted killer by the government of Azerbaijan.
Following his murderous act, Safarov subsequently admitted and was convicted by a Hungarian court and sentenced to life in prison for his heinous act. Hungary had consistently refused extradition until August 2012, when it allowed Safarov to return to Azerbaijan, under assurances and promises by Azerbaijani officials that he would serve out his full prison term. However, upon his arrival in Azerbaijan, Safarov was welcomed as a hero, received a full presidential pardon by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and was promoted to a Major rank in addition to receiving various compensations.
Commenting on the issue, ANCC president, Shahen Mirakian said “Azerbaijan’s blatant pardoning of such a cold-blooded murderer says enough about the current regime’s attitude towards human rights and international law”.
“Such outrageous behaviour by Azerbaijan raises further concerns towards its compliance to international law, and the Artsakh peace process” said Mirakian.
Since the internationally brokered ceasefire of the Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) conflict, Azerbaijani forces have repeatedly violated the ceasefire regime, targeting ordinary civilians, women and children.
These ongoing violations represent an escalation of the ongoing disregard by Azerbaijan of the efforts of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, co-chaired by the United States, Russia, and France to solve the conflict peacefully.
The extradition and pardoning of Safarov in 2012 raised concerns in the OSCE Minsk Group’s co-chairmanship countries of United States, Russia and France, (where both the White House and Congressional leaders strongly expressed their concerns regarding Azerbaijan’s actions) and the Canadian Parliament. Despite international calls on Azerbaijan to abide by its promise to the Hungarian authorities and to imprison Safarov, the axe murderer continues to live freely in Baku today.
The ANCC is the largest and the most influential Armenian-Canadian grassroots human rights organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout Canada and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCC actively advances the concerns of the Armenian-Canadian community on a broad range of issues and works to eliminate abuses of human rights throughout Canada and the world.