Members of the California Armenian Legislative Caucus signed letters to relevant international mediators calling on them to assist in the release of illegally held Armenian hostages currently in Azerbaijan and allow the soldiers to return home to Armenia and Artsakh.
The lawmakers addressed four separate letters to Nazhat Shameen Khan, President of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the three co-chairs of the OSCE Minks Group, Igor Popov of Russia, Stephane Visconte of France and Andres Schofer of the United States.
The California Armenian Legislative Caucus signed by senators Bob Archuleta, Andreas Borgeas, Brian Dahle, Anthony Portantino and Scott Wilk, as well as Assemblymembers Laura Friedman, Luz Rivas, and Adrin Nazarian.
The California Armenian Legislative Caucus said it “is deeply concerned for the well-being and safety of these Armenian individuals and ask you to demand for the release of the Armenian hostages and other detainees as well as the remains of the fatalities.”
Below is the complete text of the letter:
It is with great humanitarian concern that the California Armenian Legislative Caucus strongly urges you to demand and assist in the release of illegally held Armenian hostages currently in Azerbaijan and allow the soldiers to return home to Armenia and Artsakh. Azerbaijan has continued to block the timely return of Armenian captives, with reports of up to 150 soldiers still being held.
On September 27, 2020 Azerbaijan launched an unprovoked attack against the peaceful Republic of Artsakh (also known as Nagorno-Karabakh) by shelling military positions and innocent civilian populations indiscriminately. Turkey played an active role in supporting Azerbaijan’s aggression toward Artsakh by providing arms, logistical and communications support, and even transporting paid Jihadist mercenaries to Azerbaijan from Libya and the Turkish Syrian border. Armenia was forced to make significant concessions at the conclusion of the war. Furthermore, for more than a century, Turkey and Azerbaijan have maintained a violent history toward the Armenian people. Descendants of the Armenian Genocide continue to mourn the loss of 1.5 million ancestors murdered by the Turks and over 5,000 civilians and military personnel were killed in this conflict.
On November 9, 2020, a ceasefire was declared that called upon the mutual release and exchange of prisoners. Azerbaijan has not yet released the prisoners of war and innocent civilians that are being held captive. All persons were to be exchanged. Azerbaijan has a history of gruesome treatment and human rights violations of captives. So far, only 54 Armenians, both civilians and soldiers have been returned from Azerbaijani custody while the number of missing Armenians continues to grow. Even after the ceasefire, Armenian soldiers have been captured and Azerbaijan has failed to acknowledge these soldiers as prisoners of war and want to try them in Azerbaijan on criminal charges. Azerbaijani soldiers are continuing to break the ceasefire and capture innocent Armenian soldiers and hold them as hostages only to unfairly extort political and territorial demands.
We are deeply concerned for the well-being and safety of these Armenian individuals and ask you to demand for the release of the Armenian hostages and other detainees as well as the remains of the fatalities.
The California Armenian Legislative Caucus is a bi-partisan, non-political Caucus that serves as a forum for members from the California Senate and Assembly to identify key issues affecting Armenian Americans and develop and empower the Armenian American community throughout California.