The Armenian Youth Federation of Canada today joins Human Rights and Armenian organizations from around the world to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the murder of Gurgen Margaryan and protest the pardoning of the Azerbaijani axe-murderer, Ramil Safarov, by the Government of Hungary.
In early 2004, Hungary hosted NATO’s Partnership for Peace program in Budapest, which offered English language courses to military personnel from different countries. On the evening of February 19, 2004, Safarov, a participant from Azerbaijan, intruded into Armenian participant Gurgen Margaryan’s dormitory while Margaryan was asleep, and proceeded to hack Margaryan’s face with an axe multiple times, nearly decapitating him. The Government of Azerbaijan did not condemn Safarov’s acts and instead encouraged local media agencies to praise him as a national hero. Azerbaijan’s National-Democratic Party even awarded Safarov with the title of ‘‘Man of the Year 2005’’ for the act of killing an Armenian.
On April 13, 2006, a Hungarian court sentenced Safarov to life imprisonment without possibility of a pardon until 2036. The judge, Andras Vaskuti, cited the premeditated nature and brutality of the crime as well as the fact that Safarov showed no remorse for his deeds as the reasons for the sentence. On February 22, 2007, a Hungarian court upheld the ruling following an appeal filed by Safarov’s lawyer.
On August 31, 2012, the Hungarian government decided to extradite Safarov to Azerbaijan on the condition that he continued to serve the remainder of his life sentence there. However, upon his arrival in Baku, Azerbaijan’s President, Ilham Aliyev, immediately issued an official pardon and freed Safarov. Furthermore, he was promoted to the rank of major, given an apartment and paid all salary lost during his imprisonment.
The AYF expresses deep concern with the dangerous precedent Hungary and Azerbaijan have set by extraditing and pardoning a convicted murderer. Furthermore, we condemn the lionizing of Safarov in Azerbaijan and demanded that Azerbaijan put an end to its racist, anti-Armenian and belligerent rhetoric. We urge the international community to join us in demanding an apology from the Hungarian Government and asking for the rescission of their immoral decision on extradition.
The pardoning of Safarov is further evidence of the Government of Azerbaijan’s disregard for human rights and ongoing war rhetoric against the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. When it comes to Nagorno-Karabakh, it is clear that Azerbaijan is not negotiating in good faith, and that it intends on enticing violence and hatred in an eventual military invasion.
Human Rights activists around the world condemn the actions of both the governments of Hungary and Azerbaijan, and urge the international community to demand an apology from the Hungarian Government, and ask for the retraction of their immoral decision to extradite Safarov. Furthermore, Canadian-Armenians demand a reversal of the pardon and the immediate imprisonment of Ramil Safarov, from the government of Azerbaijan.
The following are links to various articles to reference facts about the growing controversy:
Armenian Officer Axe Murdered By Azeri Colleague in Hungary – Feb. 2004 –
BBC – Hungary jails Azerbaijani killer – April 2006 –
BBC – Azeri killer Ramil Safarov: Concern over Armenian anger – Sept. 2012 –
White House statement on Azerbaijan’s Decision to Pardon Ramil Safarov –
Pardon of Ramil Safarov by Azerbaijan Statement by the Honourable Jim
Reuters – OSCE says Azeri soldier pardon sets back peace process –
RFE – Aliyev Faces Growing Critics For Pardon –
Reuters – Hungarians protest against release of Azeri officer –
Founded in 1934, the Armenian Youth Federation of Canada is the largest and most influential Canadian-Armenian youth organization in Canada, working to advance social, political, educational, and cultural awareness among Armenian-Canadian youth.