Interview with the member of Mechelen city council, lawyer Mark Hendrickx
1․ On September 27, the Azerbaijani side launched a large-scale military offensive against Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh)․ It immediately suspended the operation of the opposition media and blocked the access to social networks. How do you assess such a restriction on freedom of speech? Why did official Baku take such steps?
Marc HENDRICKX: Baku doesn’t like to act openly and in full transparency, their soldiers act inhumanely and against all provisions of the law of war. Of course, the above-mentioned is also an unacceptable restriction on the freedom of speech, but they don’t care about that.
2․ The Azerbaijani forces target the civilian population, they use banned weapons, meanwhile the international organizations mainly make peace calls, and fail to take practical steps against the Azerbaijani aggression. What solution do you see, why the international community remains silent?
Marc HENDRICKX: A dark cloud is hovering. I really don’t understand why the E.U. and the NATO stay so calm and why they don’t act and condemn this aggression. Meanwhile, Turkey is also involved, that’s good for Erdogan, it is a lightning rod for his intern failure.
As far as the civilian targets are concerned, it’s against all decency, and must be condemned and fought against!
3․ As a result of Azerbaijan’s actions, journalists also suffered. Considering the fact that the cars and uniforms of journalists have special “Press” badges, it is more than obvious that these people are journalists. Do you think that Azerbaijan deliberately targets journalists?
Marc HENDRICKX: It is unacceptable that journalists can’t do their work in total independency and safety and that they become a target too․ In the International Humanitarian Law, these acts are totally forbidden. I fear that Azerbaijan does that consciously!
4․ There is a lot of evidence that Turkey is present in Azerbaijan with its military force. Do you think that Turkey’s involvement in this war is not a danger for Europe?
Marc HENDRICKX: As I have already noted, it is a diversionary maneuver of Erdogan, just like his aggressive words towards French president Macron. Erdogan has a lot of problems inside Turkey, and wants to divert attention of it. I don’t think it is dangerous for Europe, but I think the European Parliament has to act into the direction of Turkey.
5․ Mr. Hendrickx, the people who visit Artsakh find themselves on the so-called “black list” of Azerbaijan: they are deprived of the right to enter Azerbaijan. What do you think about the existence of such a list?
Marc HENDRICKX: The so-called black list of Azerbaijan, where I am on also, proves that they can’t handle criticism. I regret the existence of such a list but of course it is not as if it does not let me sleep.
6․ Լeaflets were distributed in your hometown Mechelen, in which the facts of the Armenian Genocide of 1914-1915, were distorted. What steps have been taken by the city authorities to prevent such cases?
Marc HENDRICKX: Of course, it triggered a lot of passionate feelings. Police is starting an investigation. I condemned it openly in the local press and on local TV and was followed by the city-mayor (and really, this is now the position adopted by the local Municipal Council). Many members of the big Armenian community in our city are working together with us in this investigation and their leaders react very well, keep the youth calm and this cools down the heated political atmosphere.
Marc HENDRICKX (°1968), is a lawyer, former member of the Flemish and the Benelux Parliaments (2009-2019. He was the vice-mayor of the city of Mechelen (2013-2019) and is currently the opposition leader in the city council.