Indicting Armenia/Artsakh’s Invaders for Crimes of Aggression
Posted on October. 13. 2020
“History teaches that wars begin when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.” Pres. Ronald Reagan
Z. S. Andrew Demirdjian
Azerbaijan-Turkey’s blitzkrieg began unprovoked on Sunday, September 27, 2020, attacking Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) by air and by land without making any distinction between the military posts from the civilian population centers. We are at the brink of crisis. Azerbaijan is acting like a child who wants to fire its entire firework at once, despite the fact that our brave soldiers are already in the second week of defending against the joint forces of Azerbaijan and Turkey including the help from the Jihadist ISIS mercenaries and Israel’s war support. Each one of us should think how to help the homeland. Yes, each one of us can make a difference.
The survivors and their descendants of the Armenian Genocide have led a herd-behavior-type of life in our Diaspora for over one hundred years. Herd behavior is the behavior of individuals in group acting collectively without centralized direction. For example, the Armenian Diaspora as a group does not have yet democratically elected representatives to organize and lead the people facing difficult times when their brothers and sisters are subjected to enemy bombardment and shelling of their homeland.
Naturally, you and I would feel frustrated not to know what to do for Armenia and Artsakh are about 13K km from the Western United States. To ease our conscience, we would donate some money, but in terms of physically being there to help out, circumstances would not allow most of us to do that. So, the next best thing to do is to donate money, if possible, for waging an aggressive defense against the enemy. We should at the same time try to bring the perpetrators to justice as soon as possible. If we do it now, we would catch them red-handed committing their crimes.
In this article, after a brief introduction to the Coalition for the International Criminal Justice, we want to see how we can bring the two warmongers, namely President Reggeb Erdogan of Turkey and his belligerent understudy President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan to justice for their recent crimes of aggression against the people of Armenia and Artsakh.
The Coalition for the International Criminal Justice is one of the world’s largest civil society partnerships advancing international justice. In 1995, a group of 25 human rights organizations began campaigning for a permanent international criminal court to hold high-ranking individuals responsible for their heinous war crimes against humanity and genocide. For the first time in history, the Coalition for the International Criminal Justice can bring presidents, generals, and even rebel leaders to justice in national courts as well as through the International Criminal Court for atrocities committed.
The Coalition for the International Criminal Justice’s official definition of crime of aggression explains as to whom, when, and under what circumstances individuals (not groups) can be prosecuted for “unimaginable” human atrocities. The crime of aggression means as follows:
“The planning, preparation, initiation or execution, by a person in position effectively to exercise control over or to direct the political or military action of a state, of an act of aggression which, by its character, gravity and scale, constitutes a manifest violation of the Charter of the United Nations.”
As a further clarification, the act of aggression means “The use of armed force by a state against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations.” These acts can be in the form of invasion, military occupation, and annexation by the use of force, blockade by the ports or coasts.
Two of the war villains that come to my mind are the two leaders of Turkey and Azerbaijan (President Erdogan and President Aliyev, respectively), who have jointly planned the September 27, 2020 air and ground blitz on the military positions and civilian towns and cities of Armenia and Artsakh without any provocation. Do the two fit the description of state leaders responsible for heinous crimes and who should be brought to justice? You bet they are for we have the evidence on video tapes!
For the first time in history, individuals of oppressed countries can bring presidents, generals and rebel leaders to justice in national courts and through the International Criminal Court. It is important to note that the International Criminal Court is the only permanent international judicial body to try individuals for crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The Court is completely independent having been established by international treaty, the Rome Statute. Furthermore, it can only prosecute crimes that occurred from 2002 onwards (the date of its establishment).
The Coalition for International Criminal Justice has a rather lofty vision, which stands for “A more peaceful world through universal access to justice for victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.” As for its mission, The Coalition works in partnership to: “Advocate for all states to become part of the Rome Statute of the International criminal Court; Advocate stronger national laws that deliver justice to victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide; Strengthen state support for and cooperation with the ICC; Ensure that the Court is fair, effective and independent; Make justice visible; Promote global civil society voices on international justice; Build a global movement of justice advocates.”
A bit of history is in order. A court was born out of Nazi crimes against humanity. At the end of WWII, the Allied powers tried the Nazi leaders and other perpetrators for their crimes. As a result, the trials in Nuremberg laid the groundwork for the international justice movement as we know it today.
At the end of the Cold War, further advances were already being made, especially at the national level. For example, in Latin America, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile let the charge in opening the door to prosecute those individuals who had been in power for crimes against political opponents. Armenia has also been prosecuting its former government officials for corruption since PM Nikol Pashinyan’s ascent to power. While international cases are rather time-consuming and more difficult to adjudicate, the trend to sue for crimes of aggression is in upward direction.
To prosecute a leader, such as President Reggep Erdogan and President Ilham Aliyev, three elements are required: First, the perpetrator must be a political or military leader (i.e., someone in a position to effectively exercise control over or to direct the political or military action of a State). Secondly, the Court must prove that the perpetrator was involved in the planning, preparation, initiation or execution of such a State act of aggression. Thirdly, such a State act must amount to an act of aggression in line with the definition contained in the General Assembly resolution 3314, which must constitute “a manifest violation of the UN Charter.” In other words, only the most serious forms of illegal use of force between States can be subject to the Court’s jurisdiction.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Turkish President Recep Erdogan, and their senior military leaders should be brought to justice for war crimes committed since September 27, 2020 against civilians in both Armenia and Artsakh. There is not even an iota of a doubt that President Erdogan and President Aliyev’s criminality is cause enough for judicial investigation.
Let us cut to the chase on Azerbaijan. At this writing, Azerbaijani forces are shelling civilian targets of towns and cities. President Aliyev will not relent: He attacked Armenia and Artsakh in the summer of 2014; again in April 2016; again in July 2020; and again in September 27, 2020 in stark violation of 1994 ceasefire agreement. Aliyev has been the incumbent dictator of Azerbaijan since October 31, 2003. He has to save face for not being able to fulfill his boasting that he will regain the entire Nagorno-Karabakh from the Armenians.
As for Turkey, it has been a nation controlled by a bloodthirsty warmongering dictator since 2002, constantly encouraging or advocating Azerbaijan’s aggression toward Armenia. Erdogan’s behavior does not show good breeding. He has been unable to bridle his macabre wish of continuing with the Armenian Genocide his predecessor had begun. Every time he is angry at the Armenians, he expresses his wishful thinking of eradicating the Armenian nation through a new genocide.
Erdogan has been the rogue member of the NATO. As a NATO’s enfant terrible, he is tolerated to continue with his dangerous escapades around the world on three continents. Erdogan has been involved in many conflicts, such as in Syria, Libya, Egypt, and now in Armenia and Artsakh –just to cite a few incidents. There are many righteous Turks who do not approve of his behavior. The proof is in the attempted coup to unseat him a few years ago.
President Erdogan and President Aliyev share similar personality traits; they are two peas in a pod; the two dictators brag, boast, and act bestially. We can write their legacies as being international criminals and they should be indicted to be caught red-handed as the war proceeds. Clear video evidence from Artsakh and Armenia has been gathered to show their deliberate targeting of civilians. This kind of crime of aggression makes both guilty of premeditated surprise attack and assault on the sovereignty of Armenia and Artsakh.
Amnesty International has already confirmed that the troika Azerbaijan, Turkey, and ISIS jihadists are indiscriminately dropping cluster-bombs in the residential areas of Armenia and Artsakh, an undeniable violation of the United States and international law. As a result, U.S. should levy sanctions on the perpetrators.
The spirit of patriotism dictates to Armenians around the world to rush to the rescue of their homeland when it is being attacked by brutal enemies with their conscienceless allies. The need to ease the conscience becomes bothersome, but donating money would somewhat lesson the guilty feeling of being helpless for the distance of over 13K km from where we in California are presents complications plus the COVID-19 pandemic, which makes air travel risky now.
In view of the present challenges, you and I end up feeling frustrated. But don’t give up; let us join forces to overcome our difficulties. May the feelings of patriotism swell in our heart. When justice is served you would feel much better. Let us donate money for it takes a lot of resources to engage in a war.
Please remember, the Armenian Diaspora is like a shattered butcher’s knife; the pieces still cut, but not as efficiently and effectively if it were one whole piece. Many organizations in the Diaspora are going their own separate ways to help Armenia and Artsakh without a united front to solve problems. There is strength in unity no matter from which angle you look at it. For the sake of Armenia and Artsakh, let us cooperate with all these separate organizations who mean well, but shortsighted in their efforts to gain synergy by a united Diaspora. The best thing to do is to cooperate and collaborate with one another when we are all in a common predicament.
To navigate your way through the legal maze, I tried to simplify things for you without resorting to legal reference books. For information on how to go about getting forms to file your complaint against the perpetrators, here is some contact information of the Coalition for International Criminal Justice:
Mr. David Boyajian* is the Chairof The Board of Advisors
David Boyajian is a consummate journalist, an
ardent activist, and a prolific writer of many excellent
articles on the Armenian cause and affairs, especially
on promoting Armenia and Artsakh politically,
socially, and economically. So, he would be
more than glad to help.