April 9, 2021 – 11:15 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net – Rumors about another batch of prisoners of war returning to Armenia from Azerbaijan flooded social media on Thursday, April 8 evening, which were later confirmed by a government spokesperson to be true.
A plane did, in fact, land in Yerevan’s Erebuni military airport, except it was empty. A statement from Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan’s office said their repatriation is, again, being postponed, because Azerbaijan is failing to fulfill Article 8 of the November 9 trilateral statement, “which is a gross violation of the post-war humanitarian process”. Opposition lawmaker Srbuhi Grigoryan revealed later that 15 Armenian captives were supposed to return home on Thursday.
When news about the possible return of POWs first emerged, parents immediately gathered at the airport, but were left with nothing. Various theories about the incident started to spread, including allegations that Azerbaijan changed its mind at the last minute.
People gathered at the airport were the parents of a group of soldiers from Armenia’s Shirak province who were taken captive after the completion of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh, when Azerbaijan launched a fresh offensive to capture a small chunk of land under the Armenian side’s control.
After learning that their sons were not returning on Thursday, the parents left Yerevan and blocked all the roads connecting the country to Shirak, Sputnik Armenia reported on Friday morning.
Family members of the missing servicemen, meanwhile, have been rallying in front of the Defense Ministry since Thursday, blocking the entrance to the facility and demanding information about the missing.
Several dozen Armenian POWs have returned from Azerbaijan so far, although Armenian officials say many more people were still being held in Baku. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev claims, however, that persons being kept in Baku are not prisoners of war but “terrorists and saboteurs”. Officials and human rights advocates from the Armenian side, however, maintain Azerbaijan is still holding hundreds of people hostage, pledging to submit evidence proving the capture of said persons to international agencies and courts.