03 Nov, 2020

JOINT STATEMENT ON AZERBAIJAN’S USE OF PROHIBITED WEAPONS TO DESTROY ANCIENT FORESTS OF ARTSAKH

We, the environmentalists of Armenia and Artsakh, are compelled to speak out now to decry and condemn Azerbaijan’s deliberate use of white phosphorus to destroy forest ecosystems and protected areas of Artsakh, near the communities of Shushi, Martakert and Askeran. Many news reports, including those of Azeri sources, show the forests burning with the distinct glow of phosphorus on the evening of Friday, October 30.

While United Nations General Assembly declared 2021-2030 UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, with the goal of protection and revival of ecosystems around the world, for the benefit of people and nature, Azerbaijan deliberately targets ecosystems of the Republic of Artsakh, in violation of the International Criminal Court’s Rome Statute, article 8(2)(b)(iv) and Protocol III of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

The destructive effects of phosphorus on people, plants, and animals have caused many international organizations to forbid its use against civilian populations or the natural environment. Phosphorus burns intensely, causing severe injuries to people and animals. It is resistant to traditional methods of extinguishing fires, and its traces can remain in soil for many years, causing further damage to ecosystems affected by the fires.

The peaceful ethnic Armenians of Artsakh have lived in their ancient and beautiful sacred forests for thousands of years. The forests supply fuel, food, clean air and clean water. They serve as habitats for many native species of animals, including the endangered Caucasian Leopard, Europe’s last big cat. It is apparent that if Azerbaijan has decided it cannot capture this territory, it will make it uninhabitable. We can not tolerate such an outcome.

We call upon all citizens of the world who care for the natural environment to speak out against the wanton destruction of Artsakh’s forests by Azerbaijan’s illegal use of white phosphorus weapons.

Please speak out by sharing this statement using the hashtags #StopEcocide #RecognizeArtsakh and tagging the following organizations and influencers: International Criminal Court, UN Environment Programme, US Forest Service, Forest Europe, The Climate Project, Greenpeace, Рослесхоз, Greta Thunberg, Leonardo Dicaprio, David Attenborough, Jane Goodall

Signatories:
Armenia Tree Project
Former RA Deputy Minister of Environment Vardan Melikyan
Armenian Environmental Network
My Forest Armenia
FPWC (Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets)
Paros Foundation
Green Lane Ngo
Yerevan Botanical Garden
EcoLur Informational NGO
Eco Hub Foundation
EcoTeam NGO
Tapan Eco Club
Ark Armenia NGO
Armenian Progressive Youth NGO
Third Nature NGO
Tree of Life CSO
Araks Center Charitable NGO
Institute of Botany after A. Takhtajyan
Armenian National Agrarian University