Ombudsman: Azerbaijan must return all Armenian POWs immediately

January 8, 2021 – 18:14 AMT

PanARMENIAN.Net – Armenian servicemen captured and held prisoners by the Azerbaijani military must be released and returned to , Armenian Human Rights Defender Aarman Tatoyan said on Friday, January 8. This, he said, must be done immediately and without any preconditions.

According to him, it is absolutely impermissible that Section 8 of the Tripartite Declaration of November 10, 2020 does not specify a date for the exchange or return of the prisoners of war or others who are otherwise detained and are held in captivity.

“But this does not mean that it is permissible for Azerbaijani authorities to continue violating international human rights standards and humanitarian agreements. The return of the prisoners of war is artificially delayed; the accurate numbers are not disclosed; and, even attempts are made to present a smaller number than the real number. All the while, the torture and inhumane treatment of these prisoners continue to take place, as evidenced by the purposeful publication of videos attesting to that; and, the recovery of the bodies of the deceased are being circumvented,” the Human Rights Defender said.

“I have already stated that the studies, complaints addressed to Armenia’s Human Rights Defender, reports, as well as 24/7 of the Defender’s Office confirm that these acts are aimed at causing mental suffering to the families of those still in captivity, intended as a means of playing with the emotions of the Armenian society, and aimed at causing and raising tensions in our country.”

Tatoyan said the statements of the Azerbaijani authorities that the Armenian captives are not prisoners of war, but rather, they are “terrorists” who have been arrested, grossly violate the post-war humanitarian processes and international human rights requirements. Such statements, he added, are in direct contradiction with the requirement of Section 8 of the Trilateral Statement of November 10, 2020: “They are “Prisoners of War” by status, period!

“The Human Rights Defender of Armenia considers absolutely condemnable the politicization of this humanitarian and human rights issue, and even remotely connecting these matters of human rights related to any territorial issue, or for that matter, the obvious attempts of the Azerbaijani authorities to exploit these matters for political purposes.”

Armenian lawyer Siranush Sahakyan said on January 6 that at least 120 Armenian prisoners of war are being held in Azerbaijan. Sahakyan represents the rights of some of the POWs before the European Court of Human Rights. The lawyer said there is enough evidence proving the capture of said persons, which the Armenian side will submit to international agencies and courts. Her comments came a day after the Azerbaijani side declared about only five Armenian POWs.

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