April 6th, 2016
Voices of Karabakh: The Uncut and Untold Accounts of Karabakh Civilians
On Monday we posted an overview of the news coverage detailing the escalation of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh from 2nd April, with facts and reports by some of the world’s biggest news outlets, from the BBC to CNN. Much of the discussion centered around the geopolitics of the conflict and possible future scenarios, yet little focused on the human cost that such an escalation in violence has had.
HART has been receiving eye-opening updates directly from sources on the ground in Nagorno-Karabakh, describing the horrors that civilians endured during these four days of intense and deadly fighting and the efforts that they are making to support each other in this life-threatening situation.
Vahan Stepanyan, PAN Photo via AP
Since HART’s last update, there have been significant developments on both the borders and diplomatic fronts. According to one of our sources in Nagorno-Karabakh yesterday morning, “the situation is developing and changing every hour and there are already many people, including civilians, who were killed and wounded”. This source also confirmed that, “the tensions are particularly intense in the south-eastern and north-eastern parts of the border” and even went on to state that, “it is not a ceasefire violation anymore; we can now say that there is a war on the borders”.
BBC News has cited claims that Azerbaijan has been using heavy weapons. This source has corroborated these claims, confirming that “Azerbaijan is using heavy artillery, including so called ‘Smerch’ multiple rocket launchers”. According to the Military Today, the ‘Smerch’ “remains one of the deadliest, if not the deadliest artillery rocket system”. This is because Smerch multiple rocket launchers have the core deadly feature of simultaneously discharging twelve rockets within 38 seconds, with incredible accuracy and a firing range of 20km-70km.
Another source in Nagorno-Karabakh commented on the recent outbreak of violence stating, “last weekend was horrible for my nation” and added that, “we have many patients who have fled the bombing in the places where they live and have taken refuge in the rehab centre”. This source also told HART, “in the last few days, we have been using our minibus to transport wounded people from Mardakert to Stepanakert hospitals; the bus has been working day and night”. Our source went on to reveal that, “many soldiers and civilians died and many of our employees know people who were wounded and killed”.
On April 5th news broke that a ceasefire had been reached at noon. According to the Financial Times, both sides are “ready for the negotiation process”. One of our sources contacted us after the ceasefire agreement, stating that, “Now, it is much better, it’s been already a few hours since the fighting has stopped because of the negotiation process. We hope everything will be over soon, so that people can go back to their homes and to living in peace”.
Although International Crisis Group has commented that, “even if the ceasefire takes hold, there is a strong risk fighting will resume periodically”, hopefully the international community and the mediators responsible will have a “wider recognition of the potential for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to escalate” and instead will press for a solution to this long-disregarded dispute, so that the human cost does not worsen along with further violence.
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