Azerbaijan is concealing the actual number of captured Armenias, said Artak Beglaryan, Artsakh’s Human Rights Defender during a farewell press conference on Wednesday in Stepanakert.
Beglaryan announced his resignation from the post and, on Thursday, he was named chief advisor to Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan.
According to him, Azerbaijan has so far returned 53 Armenian prisoners of war. This number includes women, two elderly Armenian men who died in Azerbaijani prisons, with evidence of brutal violence against them. Beglaryan said the vast majority of those returned report of extreme physical and psychological abuse, adding that currently most of them are being treated at various hospitals.
Beglaryan explained that there different categories of Armenian POWs: individuals whose captivity has been officially recognized by Azerbaijan, those who, according to hard evidence, are being held captive but are not acknowledged by Azerbaijan, and people about whom there is little or no information, but there is indirect information about their captivity.
According to the human rights defender, dozens of Armenians—including the 62 servicemen who went missing in Khtsaberd village and several dozens more—are currently being held captive in Azerbaijan. He explained the his office updating and submitting lists to mediators, saying these Armenians must be returned without any conditions.
During his briefing, Beglaryan also reported that at least 60 civilians were killed as a result of Azerbaijan’s military aggression, from September 27-to November 9. He announced that a report, released on Wednesday, includes the names of these civilian casualties and, in some cases, the circumstances of their deaths.
According to Beglaryan, 39 civilians were killed as a result of the recent hostilities, either from being hit by missiles and bombs, while the remainder are known to have been killed in captivity or in the occupied territories. He said most of the remains have been found, and there are other details that are being verified.
Beglaryan stressed the need to give status to the civilian casualties so that their family members can receive support and social benefits. He added that close to 40 civilians have gone missing during or after the recent Artsakh war, suggesting that there is evidence of capture of several civilians, and at least 163 civilians were injured.
Beglaryan said that he and his counterpart in Armenia, Arman Tatoyan have published six reports detailing the killings, the inhumane treatment of Armenian captives, and the Azerbaijani military’s defiling of bodies of the dead during the military aggression from September 27 to November 9.
According to him, these reports were prepared on the basis of open sources, media, and data found on the internet. He explained that the reports have not been made available to the public because they contain horrifying photograph and videos. However, he explained, that they been sent to the relevant government agencies in Armenia and Artsakh, as well as to international organizations, including human rights groups and foreign countries.
Beglaryan noted that several human rights organizations had responded, while the United Nations and and the Council of Europe commissioners for human rights were also conducting their own investigations.
However, Beglaryan lamented that the international community has largely been restrained in its statements in this regard, and it continues to use false parity, which is absolutely unacceptable. He did say that some of the organizations have publicly announced their intention to visit Artsakh based on the information contained in the reports.
“It would have been good if they had not isolated Karabakh before the [recent Artsakh] war, or visited it during the war. They have done neither. We hope that in the future they will not politicize visits to unrecognized countries and will fulfill their mandate, regardless of Azerbaijan’s destructive position,” said Beglaryan.