FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 23, 2016
Statement on the Occasion of the Anniversary of the Axe Murder during NATO Sponsored Course
Ottawa – The Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC) reminds the international community of the horrific axe murder of Armenian lieutenant Gurgen Margaryan , committed by Azerbaijani lieutenant Ramil Safarov during a NATO- sponsored course. The ANCC condemns the pardoning and rewarding of this convicted killer by the government of Azerbaijan.
On February 18, 2004, while both men were participating in a NATO-sponsored course in Hungary, Azerbaijani lieutenant Ramil Safarov axed to death Armenian lieutenant Gurgen Margaryan, when the latter was sleeping. 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 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 Aliev and was promoted to a Major rank in addition to receiving various compensations.
Over the past months, Azerbaijani forces have attacked Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s border on multiple occasions, including an attack on the night of February 5, 2016 in which a 19 year old Armenian soldier was killed.
These recent violations of the ceasefire in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict represent an escalation of the ongoing disregard by Azerbaijan for 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.
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; all in an effort to deflect focus away from its own corrupt practices. With a track record of complete disregard for international law, and continuous abuse of human rights, Azerbaijan cannot be trusted as a credible partner to the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process brought forth by the OSCE Minsk Group.
The extradition and pardoning of Safarov in 2012 raised concerns in the OSCE Minsk Group’s co-chairmanship countries of Russia, France and the United States (where both the White House and Congressional leaders strongly expressed their concerns regarding Azerbaijan’s actions). Member of Parliament Harold Albrecht rose in the House of Commons on September 19, 2012 to state “[The pardon and rewarding of Safarov] are of real concern to Canada, and in particular to Canadians of Armenian descent who want peace in their homeland. Murder should be condemned, not rewarded.”
ANCC President Girair Basmajian echoes Mr. Albrecht’s statements and adds “Trust is the first step towards peace and the Aliev regime has shown time and again that it can not be trusted. It is clear that the only way to achieve peace in Nagorno-Karabakh is for the world community to recognize that the Armenian population can not live under an Azerbaijani regime that promotes ethnic hatred and rewards murderers. The people of Nagorno-Karabakh must remain free.”
The ANCC is the largest and the most influential Canadian-Armenian 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 Canadian-Armenian community on a broad range of issues.
Le CNAC est l’organisation canado-arménienne des droits humains la plus large et influentielle. Collaborant avec une série de bureaux, chapitres et souteneurs à travers le Canada et des organisations affiliées à travers le monde, le CNAC s’occupe activement des inquiétudes de la communauté canadienne-arménienne.