1. In the morning of October 14, at around 09:00, the Azerbaijani armed forces launched targeted drone strikes near Vardenis in the Sotk civilian community of Gegharkunik province of Armenia.
As a result of the launched drone strikes, a Vardenis city habitant, who is 14-year-old child Nar. A, was injured and is now be treated at a hospital intensive care unit.
At the moment of the drone strikes, there were other civilians, including children, in an agricultural field participating in the seasonal potato harvest.
This information was confirmed to the Human Rights Defender of Armenia by the head of local community and by local civilians who referred the incident to the Human Rights Defender. The information is now also circulating in some media.
2. On the same day the Human Rights Defender of Armenia has dispatched a special mission, including a medical doctor, to the civilian hospital, the Surb Astvatsamayr Medical Center for fact-finding purposes.
During the visit, private interviews took place with the injured child, his father and the healthcare staff. Apart from these interviews, a number of issues were discussed with the head of local community.
3. The mission revealed that the injured child, his father E. A. and his 16-year-old brother Nor. A. had gone to their family-owned agricultural field for the seasonal potato harvest on October 14 and, shortly after arriving at the field in the morning; they heard the noise of the drone. According to the child, at the moment of the drone appeared and then began striking, they started running. The drone strike targeted and landed at the precise place where they were standing.
The incident specifically evidences the willful criminal intent of the Azerbaijani armed forces to target and deprive of life illegally Armenian civilians.
4. The Human Rights Defender considers it important to underline that seasonal harvest is active in Gegharkunik province currently and that these harvest works are vital for every family of the province. In many cases it is the main source of families’ income. For that reason, people have to go to the agricultural field for the seasonal harvest with families.
It is worth mentioning, as the injured child informed, he and his elder brother currently cannot attend school, since all of the schools in the city of Vardenis and its neighboring areas are closed due to the continuous air attacks, including drone attacks by the Azerbaijani armed forces.
5. Doctors of the Surb Astvatsamayr Medical Center informed the Human Rights Defender’s Office, that the child’s current health condition is serious. In particular, he has got right-sided pneumothorax, left-sided penetrating hemopneumothorax, blunt abdominal injury, subcapsular splenic hematoma and there is shrapnel lodged in tissue on his right-side.
The child has also suffered immense blood loss.
6. The Human Rights Defender, being an independent national human rights body, as well as a body monitoring the implementation of the provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, strongly condemns the targeted attacks by Azerbaijani armed forces against civilians, including children, which has resulted in grave violations of children’s rights and absolute ignorance of fundamental requirements of international law.
International human rights organizations, and especially organizations dedicated to the protection of child rights, should undertake urgent measures to make a proper legal assessment of these cases and take all action to exclude their occurrence in the future.
Indiscriminate and often targeted attacks of Azerbaijani armed forces against children must be strongly condemned by the international community.
The Human Rights Defender of Armenia