Azerbaijan has removed displays depicting Armenian soldiers and the helmets of soldiers seized during the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War from the Baku Trophy Park, following a complaint by Armenia at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
Armenia’s representative to the International Court of Justice, Yegishe Kirakosyan, announced this in an interview with Armenia’s Public Television Broadcaster on Thursday.
‘This is a very important circumstance to emphasise because it was actually done in the period after Armenia filed the lawsuit [at the ICJ]’, Kirakosyan said, adding that Armenia was still demanding the full closure of the park.
[Read more: Armenia takes Azerbaijan to the International Court of Justice]
On Friday, Mikroskop Media confirmed that the helmets and mannequins had been removed. Mikroskop cited employees of the park as saying that the models and helmets had been sent for repairs, but that it was not clear when they would be returned.
The trophy park was opened in April after Aliyev’s January order to start the construction of the park. ‘Everyone who visits the park of military trophies will see the strength of our army, will see our willpower, and how hard it was to achieve victory,’ proclaimed Aliyev during the inauguration. It contained Armenian military equipment seized during the war as well as scenes supposedly showing Armenian military positions.
The park came under heavy criticism for what critics said was a racist portrayal of Armenians, as well as the insensitivity of displaying helmets that may have been taken from fallen soldiers.
[Read by Javid Agha: Opinion | On the apologists of Baku's Military Trophy Park]
On Thursday, the International Court of Justice began hearings on the case brought by Armenia against Azerbaijan alleging decades of ethnic discrimination, including ethnic cleansing.
The country is also seeking provisional measures against Azerbaijan before the final judgement.
Azerbaijan has rejected Armenia’s complaints. Azerbaijan’s deputy foreign minister, Elnur Mammadov, told the hearing via video call that it was Armenia that was involved in ‘decades-long ethnic cleansing’. Mammadov also said Armenia's request ‘is defective, and must be rejected’.
In the hearing, Armenia’s team of lawyers argued that Azerbaijan had been obliged to return all Armenian prisoners of war and civilians held, but that it was still holding POWs and civilian captives.
Responding to the claim, an Azerbaijani representative stated that: ‘Azerbaijan most certainly does not accept that it has a legal duty “to release immediately all Armenian prisoners of war… and other detainees in its custody” there are no hostages.’
Hearings for a similar case submitted by Azerbaijan against Armenia are expected to begin next week.
Additional reporting by Mikroskop Media.