Geoffrey Robertson Calls on Australia to Support the Artsakh Rights to Self-Determination, Calls Out Azerbaijan and Turkey

By ANC-AU | Monday, 05 October 2020

LONDON: The Australian Newspaper has published an important op-ed by prominent Australian human rights barrister of the London-based Doughty Street Chambers, Mr. Geoffrey Robertson QC on Azerbaijan's Turkey-backed attacks against the Republics of Armenia and Artsakh.

Robertson calls out the regime of Azerbaijani petro-dictator Ilham Aliyev for his claim that the Armenian side instigated what is fast becoming a humanitarian disaster, with Baku using cluster munitions against the civilians in Artsakh's capital Stepanakert yesterday.

"He (Aliyev) denies being the aggressor, but this is not credible: he has everything to gain by it and Armenia has everything to lose, and no reason to commence battle. It has agreed to international calls for peace talks but Aliyev, bent on killing and conquest, has refused," Robertson wrote.

The high-profile former judge also poured cold water over Turkey's denial that it is directly involved in Azerbaijan's aggression, highlighting evidence that Ankara-backed Islamist Jihadist mercenaries have been deployed to bolster Aliyev's expansionist ambitions.

"Despite its denials, evidence from France and Russia and the British media proves that in the last month Turkish companies have recruited and paid fighters from Syria to join the Azeri forces – proof that Turkey and Azerbaijan planned their attack in advance," Robertson added.

The Defence Ministry in Yerevan has also uncovered evidence that Turkey's air force is directly attacking Armenian targets.

Robertson continued by demanding action from the United Nations Security Council.

"The Security Council should immediately refer the conflict to the International Criminal Court, which is now empowered to investigate the crime of aggression, which appears to have been committed by Aliyev with the support of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan," he said.

Azerbaijan's claims over the Nagorno Karabakh region, which its indigenous Armenians declare the Republic of Artsakh by referendum following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, is their sovereign territory.

Robertson said: "Aliyev claims the unrecognised Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan but this rests on Stalin’s 1923 decision to make the region an oblast. This status it has not had for the last quarter of a century after its people voted for independence and won the war they fought for their right to self-determination."

He added: "International law allows what is termed the right of remedial secession, which has been accorded to East Timor, Kosovo and others and which should apply to Artsakh."

Robertson continued by calling on Australian to support the rights to self-determination of the indigenous Armenians of the Republic of Artsakh.

"It would be intolerable if Artsakh were to be invaded and its people killed or forced to flee. Yet this is the declared objective of Turkey," Robertson said.

"But the Armenians are a tough race, emerging from the genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turks (who slaughtered more than a million of them in 1915-16). They have a diaspora that is powerful in the US and elsewhere (although the best-known Armenian is Kim Kardashian, Australia can boast Joe Hockey and Gladys Berejiklian)."

"They will not surrender Artsakh and nor should they. Australia should not hesitate in its support for them – not for the sake of Christianity but for democracy," Robertson concluded.

Armenian National Committee of Australia Executive Director, Haig Kayserian praised Robertson for "speaking truth to power".

"The Armenian-Australian community is frustrated by the false parity the international community and some media are trying to give to what are blatant attacks from the neo-Ottoman descendants of those who committed the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Genocides of 1915," Kayserian said.

"Now we have one of the most credible defenders of human rights, Mr. Geoffrey Robertson telling them how it is, that the Republic of Artsakh deserves international recognition to ensure its rights to self-determination, and that Turkey and Azerbaijan are attacking those rights."

Kayserian added: "We are disappointed by the Australian Government's fence-sitting on this issue. Australian values call on our leaders to call crimes out by name, and this was an attack by Azerbaijan backed by Turkey, who have supported with high-level weaponry and the deployment of Islamist jihadists previously fighting in Syria.”


Background on Australian Support

Public support for Armenia and Artsakh has been offered by Australian politicians at all levels of government and public figures, including the co-convenors of the Federal Australia-Armenia Inter-Parliamentary Union, Federal parliamentarians Senator Kristina KeneallyTim Wilson MPJosh Burns MPJason Falinski MP and John Alexander MP, as well as New South Wales Member for Prospect Hugh McDermott MP, who wrote a scathing letter to the Azerbaijani Embassy in Australia. NSW Legislative Assembly Speaker Jonathan O'Dea MP expressed his solidarity with the Republic of Artsakh and Northern Beaches Councillor Vincent De Luca and media broadcaster Jon Dee did the same.

The Australian Greens political party released a statement calling out Azerbaijan and Turkey for their aggression. Ryde City Council also released a message declaring solidarity with the Armenian people under attack, while the Greek-AustralianAssyrian-AustralianPontian-Australian and Kurdish-Australian communities were strong in their public support for Armenia and Artsakh.

The New South Wales Ecumenical Council, which comprises of 16 churches in the state of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, has released a statement calling out Azerbaijan's Turkey-backed attacks on Armenia and Artsakh while calling for diplomatic intervention by the Australian Government,

The Armenian National Committee of Australia have petitioned SBS and lobbied the ABC on their unbalanced coverage of the attacks, as well as advocated for support from Government Ministers, including for an investigation into Australian flights made by a cargo airline owned by the family of Azerbaijan's dictatorship, which has past links to transporting arms and support to terrorist mercenaries in the Middle East.