By Rashid Shirinov
Three years have passed since three Azerbaijani civilians, Dilgam Askerov from the occupied Kelbajar region, Shahbaz Guliyev from the occupied Terter region and Hasan Hasanov from the occupied Jebrail region of Azerbaijan, were captured by the Armed Forces of Armenia.
They were detained by the Armenian armed forces in July 2014 while visiting their native places and graves of loved ones in the occupied Azerbaijani Kalbajar region. Hasan Hasanov was murdered under unknown circumstances.
Following its usual pattern of behavior and degrading treatment of the prisoners of war, hostages and innocent civilians, Armenia refused to return the hostages. Guliyev and Asgarov were judged illegally by the unrecognized courts of a separatist regime in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh. Following an expedited “judicial process” in December 2015, Asgarov was sentenced to life imprisonment and Guliyev to 22 years.
Attempts of Baku to provide justice and to free the hostages are still unsuccessful.
The issue of Asgarov and Guliyev, who are kept hostages by Armenian militaries in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region, was a key topic of a meeting between Azerbaijan’s Human Rights Commissioner Elmira Suleymanova and the Head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Delegation in Azerbaijan, Elena Sessera.
Suleymanova expressed concern about Yerevan’ refusal to return Asgarov and Guliyev and noted that the silent attitude of the international community to this unlawful and inhumane event is inconsistent with international law, Ombudsman's office reported on September 18.
Elena Sessera, in turn, stressed that the ICRC delegation keeps the focus on the condition of Azerbaijani hostages and it achieved a permanent connection between the hostages and their families.
She further informed the Ombudsman on the activities of the ICRC Delegation in Azerbaijan, and spoke of projects in the border areas and work with communities.
Azerbaijan’s State Committee on Affairs of Refugees and IDPs, the State Commission on Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing Persons and other agencies have repeatedly urged international organizations, including the ICRC, to assist in release of Guliyev and Asgarov, but the problem remains topical yet.
Azerbaijan, whose over 4,000 citizens were taken captive, hostage, or went missing as a result of the Nagorno-Karabakh war, has repeatedly declared its readiness to begin negotiations with Armenia to free the captives and resolve the long-standing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. However, the Armenian side keeps ignoring all attempts of Azerbaijan and international organizations, thereby disrespecting the international law and hindering the settlement of the conflict.
Rashid Shirinov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @RashidShirinov
Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz