(For Immediate Release)
(OTTAWA – April 21, 2021) – On Tuesday, April 20th, the Spring Plenary Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) held an “Urgent Affairs” debate on the status of Armenian Prisoners of War, who continue to remain under illegal Azerbaijani custody, following the trilateral ceasefire announcement signed on November 9, 2020 that brought an end to the war against Artsakh.
Following the debate, NDP MP Don Davies (Montarville), submitted the following statement to the assembly, calling for the immediate release of Armenian POW’s
“Good morning, colleagues. I welcome the opportunity to participate in today’s current affairs debate on the status of Armenian prisoners of war, other captives, and displaced persons.
“The November 9 ceasefire agreement between Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia was an extremely positive development, especially in the midst of a global pandemic. But as many, including the PACE Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons have made abundantly clear, there are still many unresolved issues.
“The announcement specifically included a term relating to the return of prisoners of war. Despite this provision, a large number of Armenian Prisoners of War remain in Azerbaijani custody, without any mechanisms in place to ensure their safe return.
“While some Armenian POW’s have returned, the number still held captive is not entirely clear, with some sources estimating it to be over 200. Even more unsettling is the fact that according to third-party mediators, Armenia has returned all Azerbaijani captives while Azerbaijan continues to refuse to hand over the Armenian prisoners. This cannot be tolerated by the international community.
“Since last December, Human Rights Watch has published two reports which confirm that Armenian POW’s are being subjected to inhumane treatment, torture, humiliation, and other forms of abuse. Prior to the report, horrific videos surfaced showing Azerbaijani soldiers abusing Armenian prisoners and celebrating the humiliation of Armenians who fell captive.
“The videos depict Azerbaijani captors assaulting Armenian POWs, and compelling them, under obvious duress and with the intent to humiliate, to kiss the Azerbaijani flag, praise the Azerbaijani President, swear at the Armenian Prime Minister, and declare that Nagorno-Karabakh is Azerbaijan.
“Even more troubling is the report of the United Nations Special Rapporteurs which raised allegations that prisoners of war and other protected persons have been subjected to disappearance, torture and extrajudicial killing.
“This is a gross violation of international law. The Third Geneva Convention – which Azerbaijan has signed – requires all parties of an armed conflict to treat POWs humanely under all circumstances. Furthermore, Azerbaijan is absolutely prohibited from practicing torture and other forms of degrading treatments per the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights, to which it is a signatory.
“We must do all that we can to ensure the safe return of Armenian POW’s and the full resumption of substantive negotiations to establish a fair and lasting solution to this conflict.”
The Armenian National Committee of Canada applauds Mr. Davies’ principled stance on this very urgent matter and expresses its gratitude for his leadership and steadfast support.
The ANCC is the largest and the most influential Armenian-Canadian grassroots human rights organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout Canada and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCC actively advances the concerns of the Armenian-Canadian community on a broad range of issues and works to eliminate abuses of human rights throughout Canada and the world.
Photo: CTV News Vancouver
Source: Armenian National Committee of Canada
Contact Information: Sevag Belian
(613) 235-2622 | National.Office@anccanada.org