The so-called cease-fire
At least 30 soldiers and a boy were reported killed as heavy fighting erupted between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The fighting was one of the worst outbreaks since the end of a full-scale war in the region in 1994, The Guardian reported on April 2, 2016.
The clashes on the contact line between Azerbaijan and Armenia continued until the declaration of ceasefire over Nagorno-Karabakh, on April 5.
Official number of deaths from Armenian side was 92 – 77 military, 15 non-military, according to The Armenian Defense Army.
The number of losses was 31 from Azerbaijan side, according to Ministry of Defense in Azerbaijan. But Jasur Sumarinli, Military Researcher and the Head of Caspian Defense Military Research Center, says unofficially 88 soldiers were killed and 43 were injured.
The studies of Caspian Defense reveal that, in the last 10 years, inspite of the cease-fire about 1,000 soldiers have died, 60 % of them in non-combat condition. The Ministry of Defense never published the number of killed soldiers during the cease-fire.
The Caspian Defense Military Research Center claims that it’s very difficult to monitor the losses in the defense sector compared to previous years because, Defense Ministry and other security agencies hide losses in most cases and try to portray it as a military secret.
As the infographic shows, in 2013 and 2014 soldier deaths increased, but the reason is not only battle conditions.
On January 7, 2013, the death of young soldier Jeyhun Gubadov ignited public anger. A Ministry of Defense statement said that the soldier died because of a heart attack. But his family claimed that he was beaten to death, and the family shared photos on Facebook, showing signs of violence on the body of the young soldier. A criminal case was opened by Military Prosecutor’s Office, as a result of the court two military arrested. But it didn’t appease the public.
In January, 2013, a group of activists created a public event on Facebook named “Stop Soldier Death”. The event invited about 13,000 people to protest against army crimes in Azerbaijan.
A demonstration was held on January 12 in Fountain Square of Baku, where police used tear gas and water cannons.
More than 20 people were handed stiff fines for participating in the January 12 protest in Baku, under a new law against unsanctioned demonstrations, Radio Liberty RFERL reported.
The organizers of the event faced 6-7 years. On March 17, most of them were released after a pardon decree by president Ilham Aliyev, on the eve of Novruz Holiday. Ilkin Rustamzadeh - the Facebook event organizer - is still in the jail.
Some civil activists in Azerbaijan say, Nagorno-Karabakh issue is the cost-effective tool to manage people for both governments of countries – Armenia and Azerbaijan. “This issue will not be solved until the establishment of a democratic government in the both countries – Armenia and Azerbaijan,” posted on Twitter by Rashadat Akhundov, a human rights activist, who was released two month ago on March 17.
Conflict within Armenia can be used against civil society activists and journalists via public prosecution and judicial charges. Azerbaijani journalist Rauf Mirgadirov was arrested on a treason charge on April, 2014. He was charged with “transferring to Armenia military and state secrets” but the court still has no any evidence about the charges. In March, he was released with a 5 year suspended sentence, but he can’t go out of the country. Mirgadirov does not agree with the decision, because the charge of “being a spy” wasn't dropped.