A lawyer representing Armenia, Yeghishe Kirakosian, made the accusation as a hearing opened at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) into a request by Armenia for judges to impose urgent interim measures to prevent Azerbaijan breaching an international convention to stamp out ethnic discrimination.
Yerevan specifically wants the court to order Baku to release dozens of Armenian prisoners, shut down an anti-Armenian “park of trophies” in the Azerbaijani capital and stop destroying Armenian cultural and religious monuments in parts of Karabakh captured by it during the war.
Kirakosian said Armenia is not asking the court to rule on the root causes of the war but “seeks to prevent and remedy the cycle of violence and hatred perpetrated against ethnic Armenians."
“Azerbaijan captured, arbitrarily detained and tortured many Armenian servicemen and civilians and is now continuing to destroy Armenian cultural heritage and religious sites or deny their being Armenian,” he said.
Lawyers representing Azerbaijan addressed the court later on Thursday. One of them, Peter Goldsmith, urged the UN tribunal to reject the injunctions sought by Yerevan, saying that Baku has fully complied with a Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped the hostilities last November.
He also claimed that the several dozen Armenians remaining in Azerbaijani captivity are guilty of “grave crimes.”
Kirakosian dismissed such claims when he spoke with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service from the Dutch city. “It is crystal clear that all Armenians held by Azerbaijan are protected by international humanitarian law,” he said.
Azerbaijan has filed a similar case alleging discrimination against its citizens by Armenia and also has requested the world court to impose interim measures. Hearings in the Azerbaijan case are scheduled to start on October 25.
Rulings on both requests will likely be issued in coming weeks. But both nations' cases alleging breaches of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination will likely take years to reach their conclusion at the ICJ.