It is now 1000 days since the tripartite statement was signed on November 9, 2020, yet Azerbaijan continues to hold around 35 confirmed Armenian prisons of war (POWs) captive in Baku. 26 of the 35 being from the “Khtsaberd group”. The “Khtsaberd group” refers to a group of 62 soldiers who were taken captive after a military attack by Azerbaijan on December 12, 2020. The soldiers were near the villages of Hin Tagher and Khtsaberd, which are in the Hadrout region of the Republic of Artsakh. The two villages and the surrounding territories were not among those which Armenian soldiers were required to withdraw. Currently, the ECHR Human rights defenders dealing with issues of Armenian POWs presented irrefutable evidence suggesting that there are undeclared POWs, putting their actual estimates at 80. Among the confirmed 35 POWs, 2 more Armenian servicemen were recently kidnapped from the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia on May 16, 2023. Additionally, just last week Azerbaijan kidnapped 2 more civilians, Vagif Khachatryan from the International Red Cross vehicle on July 29, and Rashid Beglaryan near the Aghavno village on August 1.
Most of the POWs currently held captive in Baku are facing trumped-up criminal cases in Azerbaijan.
During the Azerbaijani-provoked 2020 44-Day War and 2022 September 13-14 Aggression against Armenia and Artsakh, the Azerbaijani armed forces committed numerous war crimes, including torture of POWs and civilians, extrajudicial killings. The basis of these criminal acts of Azerbaijan is the continuing fascist policy of Armenophobia and animosity of the authorities of this country.
There is irrefutable evidence that Davit Gishyan, taken captive during the 2022 September Aggression, was killed during the captivity. The video, recorded by Azerbaijani servicemen on September 14, shows that he was alive at that time. However, on September 19, his body, along with the bodies of 31 Armenian servicemen, was transferred to Armenia.
These cases are serious violations of international law, namely ”Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War”.
According to Article 13 of the Convention: ”Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated. Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody is prohibited, and will be regarded as a serious breach of the present Convention. In particular, no prisoner of war may be subjected to physical mutilation or to medical or scientific experiments of any kind which are not justified by the medical, dental or hospital treatment of the prisoner concerned and carried out in his interest.”
By not returning the POWs, Azerbaijan is violating the tripartite statement signed on November 9, 2020, which requires the immediate return of POWs and detained individuals.