Artsakh Foreign Minister Davit Babayan sent letters to the specialized agencies of the United Nations and the Council of Europe, as well as the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office on Tuesday highlighting the current dire situation faced by Armenian servicemen and civilians who are illegally held captive in Azerbaijan.
The letters states that Azerbaijan, by violating the November 9, 2020 trilateral statement signed by the leaders of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan, has attacked and occupied Khtsaberd and Hin Tagher villages of Artsakh’s Hadrut region in December 2020 and captured 64 servicemen of the Artsakh Defense Army. Then, the Azerbaijani authorities have announced their intention to launch criminal cases against the Armenian prisoners of war, which, Babayan said, is a gross violation of the international humanitarian law.
The letters also reference that per international humanitarian law, in particular, the Geneva Conventions, continue to apply after the signing of the statement on ceasefire, therefore, the captured servicemen are prisoners of war according to the Article 4th of the Geneva Convention (III) on Prisoners of War, and they should be repatriated after the end of the military operations. Criminal prosecution against the POWs by Azerbaijan only for their participation to the military operations is a gross violation of the Third Geneva Convention.
In the letters, Babayan also says that Azerbaijan is delaying the return of other servicemen and civilians who have been captured on September 27, 2020 during the armed aggression launched by Azerbaijan against Artsakh and after that. He stressed that such a stance by Azerbaijan contradicts its commitments to fulfill the trilateral statement completely, which would help heal the wounds of the bloody conflict.
The Artsakh Foreign Minister has called on the international bodies to take urgent measures to ensure Azerbaijan’s implementation of the Geneva Conventions and to require official Baku to fulfill its obligations to guarantee all of the rights afforded to both prisoners of war and civilians, being kept in detention by Azerbaijan.