Bishop of St Albans asks questions about rights and treatment of Armenians in Azerbaijan

25th May 2021.

Asked by The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the report that the Azerbaijani military blocked Russian peacekeepers accompanying Armenian pilgrims to the Dadivank Monastery in Nagorno-Karabakh, what representations they have made to the governments of (1) Azerbaijan, and (2) Russia, to ensure the continued rights of Armenians to practise their religion in sites located in the territory ceded to Azerbaijan. [HL91]

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas has emphasised to both the Armenian and Azerbaijani Governments the importance of protecting all cultural heritage sites. The UK Ambassador to Azerbaijan has also raised this issue with representatives of the Azerbaijani Government. While we have not discussed this specific issue with the government of Russia, we continue to underline our support for the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group in reaching a lasting settlement to the conflict and for the important work of international organisations addressing the humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas.

Asked by The Lord Bishop of St Albans To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Azerbaijan following evidence that the Armenian Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Shusha is being deliberately desecrated. [HL94]

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The Minister for European Neighbourhood and the Americas has emphasised the importance of protecting all cultural heritage sites to both the Armenian and Azerbaijani Governments, most recently during her visits to the region in February. We continue to underline our support for the efforts of UNESCO in this regard.

Asked by The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Azerbaijan following reports that 19 Armenian prisoners of war, including civilians, were tortured and killed in detention centres. [HL95]

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: We are deeply concerned by accusations from both sides that war crimes were committed during the conflict and afterwards. During her visit to the region in February the Minister for the European Neighbourhood met with representatives of both Governments and highlighted UK concerns over reports of war crimes and the need for allegations to be thoroughly investigated by the appropriate authorities.

Asked by The Lord Bishop of St Albans :To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they had made of the extent of systematic racism towards Armenians in Azerbaijan following the opening of Azerbaijan’s War Park and its dehumanising mannequins depicting Armenians. [HL96]

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The UK Government has made no such assessment. We are aware of the opening of a museum in Azerbaijan following the recent Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. During her February visit to the region, the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas urged all sides to refrain from rhetoric or actions that may delay dialogue or reconciliation between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Asked by The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to President Biden’s formal recognition of the Armenian Genocide on behalf of the US government, what plans they have to review their position towards the Armenian Genocide. [HL92]

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The events of 1915-1916 were a tragic episode in the history of the Armenian people and they must never be forgotten. The UK Government of the day condemned the massacres and this Government fully endorses that view. The longstanding policy of the UK Government is that any judgement on whether genocide has occurred is a matter for competent courts, rather than for governments.