Azerbaijan accused rival Armenia at the UN’s top court on Monday of laying landmines as part of a campaign of “ethnic cleansing” despite the end of last year’s war.
Both countries have lodged tit-for-tat cases at the International Court of Justice seeking emergency measures against alleged racial discrimination, with Armenia speaking last week.
The two former Soviet republics battled for six weeks last autumn over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh in a conflict that claimed more than 6,500 lives.
“Armenia’s campaign of ethnic cleansing and incitement to violence against Azerbaijanis is ongoing,” Azerbaijani deputy foreign minister Elnur Mammadov told the Hague-based court.
“Provisional measures are urgently required to prevent further irreparable harm.”
He said that after the “liberation” of parts of the region last year, when Azerbaijani civilians tried to return to their homes they found the area had been “carpeted” with landmines by Armenia.
Armenia “still to this day refuses to share complete and accurate maps of the mines needed to progress clearance operations, and even continues to plant new mines on Azerbaijan’s territory.”
At least 106 Azerbaijanis including 65 civilians had been killed or injured by mines since the end of last year’s conflict, Mammadov said.
“This is quite simply a continuation of Armenia’s decades-long ethnic cleansing campaign an attempt to keep this territory cleansed of Azerbaijanis in pursuit of some desperate revanchist design,” he said.
The Azerbaijani minister also urged the court to stop what he called “false and inflammatory” social media statements by its rival.
Nagorno-Karabakh is an ethnic Armenian region of Azerbaijan that broke away from Baku’s control in the early 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The war ended in November with a Russian-brokered ceasefire under which Armenia ceded territories it had controlled for decades to Turkish-backed Azerbaijan, but tensions remain high.
Armenia last week accused Azerbaijan at the ICJ of a “cycle of violence and hatred perpetrated against ethnic Armenians.”
In their ICJ cases, both countries accuse the other of breaching a UN treaty, the International Convention on All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
The ICJ, set up after World War II to rule in disputes between member states, can order emergency measures pending the resolution of full cases that can take many years.
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