Many Happy Returns campaign brings Nagorno-Karabakh conflict victims’ faces to the heart of Westminster

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The European Azerbaijan Society has launched an online campaign highlighting the ongoing plight of Azerbaijani Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees.

The 'Many Happy Returns' logo and slogan

The 'Many Happy Returns' logo and slogan

The cards feature the common English birthday greeting ‘Many Happy Returns’ which, in this instance, also refers to the desire of the people to return home.

The website for the ‘Many Happy Returns’ (MHR) campaign – a landmark initiative of The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) – has gone live at http://www.manyhappyreturnsidp.com. This supports an innovative concept whereby a birthday card is sent to every MP and Peer in the UK Parliament. In each instance, the card contains a personal message from one of the estimated 875,000 Azerbaijani Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) or refugees. All those portrayed were forcibly displaced from their homes by the Armenian military occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven surrounding districts during the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan that raged from 1988–94.

Despite four UN Security Council resolutions being passed that condemn the invasion, the lands remain under illegal Armenian occupation. The attempts by the OSCE Minsk Group to mediate between the sides have proven unsuccessful.

The cards feature the common English birthday greeting ‘Many Happy Returns’ which, in this instance, also refers to the desire of the people to return home. Each card includes a portrait of an IDP or refugee, taken in three camps by the renowned German photographer Philipp Rathmer.

On the MHR website, the recipients can learn about the background to the conflict in graphic novel form, read personal testimonies, register their support and sign a petition. They can also view messages of support from such political and cultural figures as Christopher Pincher MP, Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Azerbaijan; Lord Kilclooney; and acclaimed US photojournalist Ed Kashi. The campaign will also be rolled out in TEAS offices across Europe.

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