The Armenian National Committee of Canada, this week, called upon Prime Minister Stephen Harper to condemn the actions of the government of the Republic of Azerbaijan for pardoning convicted axe-murderer Ramil Safarov as well as rewarding him for murdering Armenian lieutenant Gurgen Margaryan. The ANCC further called upon Canada to ask Hungarian officials for a complete explanation of facts surrounding the questionable extradition of the convicted murderer to his home country.
In 2004, while both were participating in a NATO-sponsored course in Hungary, Azerbaijani lieutenant Ramil Safarov axed to death Armenian lieutenant Gurgen Margaryan, while the latter slept. Safarov subsequently admitted to the murder, and was convicted by a Hungarian court and sentenced to life in prison for his heinous act. Hungary had consistently refused extradition until last week, when it allowed Safarov to return to Azerbaijan to serve out the remainder of his prison term, under assurances and promises by Azerbaijani officials that he would serve 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 Aliev, was promoted to Major, given eight years of back pay and an apartment in Baku.
"Once again, Azerbaijani President Aliev and his regime have shown their deceitful, belligerent, and murderous character to the world. Azerbaijan cannot be trusted, period," stated ANCC President Dr. Girair Basmadjian, "We call on Canada and Prime Minister Stephen Harper to condemn Azerbaijan’s blatant disregard for international law and its ongoing belligerence. The world community must now demonstrate that Azerbaijan cannot continue its unlawful and inhuman ways. The deceitful, belligerent, and human-rights abusing regime of Azerbaijan’s president Aliev is world renowned, and the world will now add ‘murderous’ to the list of Aliev characterizations".
Azerbaijan’s latest actions are another clear example of how the Aliev regime continues to incite ethnic hatred and violence, and threaten peace in the region in order to deflect focus away from Aliev’s corrupt practices, disregard for international law, and abuse of human rights. Azerbaijan cannot be trusted as a credible partner to the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process established by the OSCE Minsk Group. Canada should not only condemn the pardon, but also urge Azerbaijan to refrain from actions that put the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict at risk.
The extradition and pardoning of Safarov has already raised concerns in the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia, Brussels, and in the United States, where both the White House and Congressional leaders have strongly expressed their concerns regarding Azerbaijan’s actions. Hungarian officials have said that they have acted in good faith, but as recently as last week, Reuters News agency reported the possibility of a Hungary-Azerbaijan financial transaction valued at 2 billion to 3 billion Euros.
The ANCC is the largest and the most influential Canadian-Armenian grassroots political 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 Canadian-Armenian community on a broad range of issues.