By Rashid Shirinov
Azerbaijan’s State Commission on Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing Persons continues work on the release of two Azerbaijanis Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev held hostage by Armenia in the occupied Azerbaijani lands.
Eldar Samadov, deputy head of the working group of the State Commission, told Trend on February 13 that the state agency holds regular meetings and discussions with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
“Issues related to Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev, taken hostage by Armenian servicemen in July 2014 in Azerbaijan’s Kalbajar region occupied by Armenia, are discussed during these meetings,” he said. Samadov added that the issue of releasing Azerbaijani citizen Elnur Huseynzade, taken hostage by Armenian servicemen on the contact line of troops near Talish village of Azerbaijan’s Tartar region on February 1, 2017 under unknown circumstances is also discussed at the meetings.
For more than three years, Asgarov and Guliyev have been kept hostage by Armenian militaries in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. They were detained while visiting their native places and graves of loved ones in the occupied Azerbaijani Kalbajar region. Moreover, Armenian armed forces killed the third Azerbaijani Hasan Hasanov. Later, Guliyev and Asgarov were judged illegally by the unrecognized courts of the 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 in prison.
Samadov said that the issue related to Armenian serviceman Arsen Baghdasaryan and Armenian citizen Zaver Karapetyan are also discussed.
Baghdasaryan was detained while making attempted sabotage on the contact line of troops in Azerbaijan’s Aghdam region on December 26, 2014. By the verdict of the Ganja Grave Crimes Court, he was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment.
As for Karapetyan, he was detained on June 20, 2017, in an attempt of the reconnaissance and sabotage group of Armenian armed forces to violate the defense line of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces. He admitted that he had been paid for combat duty.
Samadov noted that the issue of releasing Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev was raised at all meetings with international organizations.
“During the meeting held upon Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s instructions with the ICRC President Peter Maurer in Geneva in December 2015, Azerbaijani Deputy Prime Minister Ali Hasanov asked to help Asgarov and Guliyev to communicate with family members by using modern communication devices,” deputy head of the working group said.
This issue was thoroughly discussed during the meeting with the ICRC representatives in November 2016, and a mutual agreement was reached to create the same conditions for Baghdasaryan, detained in Azerbaijan, Samadov added.
“On the mutual agreement in February 2017, the video messages of Asgarov, Guliyev and Baghdasaryan were handed over to their families, and those of the families were sent to the places of their detention,” he said, adding that this is the first such case in the history of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Samadov also said that as of December 1, 2017, the State Commission registered 1,443 people who were released from captivity and hostage during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
He noted that last year inquiries were sent to some regions to clarify information on persons released from captivity and hostage during the conflict. The responses were analyzed and the data was included into the relevant databases.
“As a result of the investigation, it was revealed that six Azerbaijani citizens were held hostage and released during intensive military operations,” Samadov added.
Azerbaijan 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
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