By Abdul Kerimkhanov
Azerbaijan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) has addressed a letter to the Secretary-General of the organization regarding the illegal arrest of Azerbaijani civilians Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev by Armenia back in 2014.
The letter was circulated as a document of the UN General Assembly and Security Council.
The document underlines that the international community has consistently reaffirmed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, which includes the Nagorno-Karabakh region and the surrounding areas occupied by Armenia; condemned the occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan; and demanded the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of all Armenian forces from those territories.
It is also stated in the document that in its leading judgment of 16 June 2015 in the case of Chiragov and others v. Armenia, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights established that Armenia exercises effective control over the Nagorno-Karabakh region and other occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
It is stated in the letter that in July 2014, the Armenian armed forces brutally killed an Azerbaijani civilian, Hassan Hassanov, and captured Asgarov and Guliyev, while they were attempting to visit the graves of their parents and relatives in Azerbaijan's Kalbajar region occupied by Armenia.
“The Armenian side not only did not release those civilians but also fabricated charges against them and unlawfully sentenced Asgarov to life imprisonment and Guliyev to 22 years in jail, while the body of Hassanov was returned to Azerbaijan, with the facilitation of the International Committee of the Red Cross, after almost three months, on 2 October 2014,” the message reads.
The document recalled that in his statement at the 26th Ministerial Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, held in Bratislava on 5 and 6 December 2019, Azerbaijan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Elmar Mammadyarov specifically referred to the case of Asgarov and Guliyev and noted that Armenia stubbornly rejected releasing them, even on the basis of the “all for all” principle.
“Asgarov and Guliyev were unlawfully arrested, detained, subjected to an ostensible “trial” and convicted to lengthy terms of imprisonment under fabricated charges by an illegal and incompetent agency of the puppet regime that Armenia has established in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. They were not told of the reasons for their arrest or informed of the charges against them and were detained incommunicado for at least several days,” the UN's document reads.
It is stated in the letter that the Azerbaijani hostages were not presumed innocent, as Armenian officials made public statements in which they were called “hired criminals”, “saboteurs” and “murderers” before and during the “trial”.
“They were not informed of the charges against them in a language they understood and were not given adequate assistance through interpretation,” according to the document. “They are presently kept in complete isolation in prison, without contact with other inmates and without mail, news and – except for visits by the International Committee of the Red Cross – contact with the outside world."
It was also mentioned that Asgarov and Guliyev were subjected to discriminatory treatment because of their ethnicity and national origin, adding that the humiliating arrest and arbitrary detention of the Azerbaijani hostages and the sentence had no legal basis or legitimacy, and the violation of their rights is now the subject of a complaint before the European Court of Human Rights.
"The Republic of Azerbaijan expects that the United Nations, including its relevant human rights mechanisms and procedures, will not remain indifferent to the fate of Asgarov and Guliyev and will spare no efforts to ensure their immediate and unconditional release and reunification with their families,” the document concludes.
In 2014, two IDPs from Azerbaijan's occupied Kalbajar region - Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev - were detained by Armenian forces while visiting their native places and graves of loved ones in Kalbajar. A third Azerbaijani who was with them, Hasan Hasanov, was killed in the same operation. Asgarov and Guliyev were later persecuted by the courts in the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh regime and sentenced to life imprisonment and to 22 years in jail respectively.
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.
In November 2018, Baku suggested the idea of exchanging prisoners according to the “all for all” scheme, proposing to exchange Armenian citizens Arsen Bagdasaryan, Karen Ghazaryan and Zaven Karapetyan for Russian citizen Dilgam Asgarov and Azerbaijani citizen Shahbaz Guliyev illegally convicted in occupied Nagorno-Karabakh.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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