YEREVAN, March 2. /ARKA/. The Armenian parliament will discuss tomorrow a draft statement condemning Azerbaijan’s policy of preventing and unreasonably delaying the return of prisoners of war and other Armenian captives, including women.
The draft statement was submitted by three independent MPs who were previously members of the ruling My Step bloc.
The draft statement, in particular, notes that four months have passed since the end of the 44-day aggression against Artsakh, unleashed by Azerbaijan on September 27, 2020 with the direct support of Turkey and with the participation of terrorist groups, but Azerbaijan still holds Armenian military and civilians in captivity, including women, whose immediate repatriation is mandatory under international humanitarian laws.
“Azerbaijan, in flagrant violation of its obligations under international humanitarian law, in violation of the interim measures of the European Court of Human Rights, conceals the true number of Armenian prisoners of war and detainees under its control and inadmissibly delays the process of their return, including women, having actually turned them into hostages, deprived of any effective means of judicial protection,” the draft statement says.
The statement notes that according to Article 118 of the Geneva Convention “On the Treatment of Prisoners of War” of August 12, 1949, “prisoners of war must be released and repatriated immediately after the cessation of active hostilities.”
At the same time, part 1 of Article 113 of the Geneva Convention “On the Protection of Civilian Population in Time of War” of August 12, 1949 also provides that “detention shall cease as soon as possible after the end of hostilities.”
The International Convention for the Protection of Missing Persons as a Result of Violence of February 6, 2007 states that no one should be subjected to enforced disappearance, even in a state of war. Denying the existence of prisoners or hiding information about the fate or whereabouts of a missing person is considered an international crime.
The 8th point of the statement of the Prime Minister of Armenia, the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Russia dated November 9, 2020 calls for the exchange of all prisoners of war, hostages and other detainees, as well as the bodies of the dead.
“The Armenian parties have fully complied with their obligations under international humanitarian law, while Azerbaijan has consistently refused to repatriate all illegally held prisoners of war, hostages and other detainees. Moreover, by starting the process of their illegal criminal prosecution, Azerbaijan is trying to deprive Armenian prisoners of war and civilians under its control of the status defined by the Geneva Conventions, without granting them the rights, privileges and other guarantees stipulated by these conventions, ” the draft statement reads.
The draft statement notes that the National Assembly of Armenia condemns the obstruction of the return of prisoners of war, hostages and other detainees under the control of Azerbaijan and declares that such an absolutely unacceptable policy violates the main provisions of the international humanitarian law, grossly violates the international obligations assumed by Azerbaijan, undermining the very essence of modern international relations and endangering the attitude towards international and regional systems of human rights.
On the basis of the above, the National Assembly of Armenia calls on all international organizations, the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing countries, the entire international community, as well as international and regional human rights organizations to condemn this position of Azerbaijan.
So far, 69 Armenians, both civilians and soldiers, and 16 Azerbaijanis have been repatriated from both countries as part of exchanges between the two sides.
Armenia and Azerbaijan earlier agreed to “all for all” swap of POWs. However, more than two months after the fighting stopped, Azerbaijan still holds unknown dozens of Armenian prisoners of war.
The Armenian authorities decline demands to disclose the exact number of Armenian prisoners held in Azerbaijan on the grounds that it is a state secret.
However, according to various sources, there are more than 140 names on the Armenian exchange list. The European Court of Human Rights said it has received requests concerning 228 Armenians held in Azerbaijani captivity.
On September 27, 2020, Azerbaijani armed forces, backed by Turkey and foreign mercenaries and terrorists, attacked Nagorno-Karabakh along the entire front line using rocket and artillery weapons, heavy armored vehicles, military aircraft and prohibited types of weapons such as cluster bombs and phosphorus weapons.
After 44 days of the war, on November 9, the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a statement on the cessation of all hostilities. According to the document, the parties stopped at where they were at that time. The town of Shushi, the districts of Agdam, Kelbajar and Lachin were handed over to Azerbaijan, with the exception of a 5-kilometer corridor connecting Karabakh with Armenia.
A Russian peacekeeping contingent was deployed along the contact line in Karabakh and along the Lachin corridor. Internally displaced persons and refugees are returning to Karabakh and adjacent regions, prisoners of war, hostages and other detained persons and bodies of the dead are being exchanged.–0-