By Vafa Ismayilova
Deputy Foreign Minister Elnur Mammadov has said that mass graves have been found on Azerbaijani territories liberated from Armenia's occupation in 2020, local news sources reported on August 30.
The deputy minister stressed that the work is underway to identify the dead persons in those graves.
Mammadov said that during the first Karabakh war in the early 1990s Armenia had been widely using the practice of taking hostages.
"The results of the investigations indicate that Azerbaijani prisoners are being tortured and are being held in heavy conditions," added the official.
He noted that the prisoners held in Armenia die due to tough detention conditions.
"As a result of Armenia's aggression against Azerbaijan, 3,890 people, including 3,171 servicemen and 719 civilians were missing. Armenia took hostage and hasn’t returned 267 civilians, including 28 children, 98 women, and 112 old people," added the official.
Mammadov said that Azerbaijan always complies with UN resolutions on prisoners, hostages, and missing persons.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Leyla Abdullayeva said that Azerbaijan from the first day of restoration of its independence faced Armenia's aggression.
She noted that as a result of the Armenian aggression, the practice of taking Azerbaijani servicemen prisoners and hostages was widely used by Armenia.
Azerbaijan faced Armenian aggression from the first day of its independence restoration, Leyla Abdullayeva, spokesperson for Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry.
According to Abdullayeva, as a result of the aggression, the practice of taking prisoners and hostages of Azerbaijani servicemen was widely used by Armenia.
The spokesperson stated that Armenia always opposes the principle of "all for all" when returning prisoners and hostages.
She stressed that over the past years, Azerbaijan has completely fulfilled its obligations.
"Azerbaijan has always stood for the principle of 'all for all’ when returning prisoners and hostages, but Armenia refuses this," she added.
Earlier, senior MP Ziyafat Asagarov said that Yerevan avoids cooperating with Baku over finding Azerbaijani citizens, who went missing in the first Karabakh war in the early 1990s.
Asgarov made the remarks in an interview with the local media on the eve of the International Day of the Disappeared on August 30.
“It is clear that Armenia, which treated captives and hostages in violation of international law and killed them brutally in most cases, does not want to cooperate in this direction to ensure that its criminal deeds are not revealed. However, it forgets that the Azerbaijani people and state never forget their sons and citizens. It takes and will take necessary steps to protect their rights and bring perpetrators to justice," he said.
The MP stressed that although the conflict ended, 3,890 Azerbaijanis captured and taken hostage by Armenia have been registered as missing persons.
"On the eve of August 30 - the International Day of the Disappeared, we are face to face with this bitter truth,” Asgarov said.
Number of Azerbaijani missing persons
The Azerbaijani State Commission on Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing Persons has made public the number of Azerbaijanis, who went missing during the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict in the early 1990s.
Thus, Armenia took 3,890 Azerbaijani citizens hostage, including 3,171 servicemen and 719 civilians (71 children, 267 women, and 326 old people), the commission said.
"Despite the end of the conflict, 3,890 Azerbaijanis out of thousands of our compatriots taken prisoner and hostage by Armenia during the conflict are still registered as missing. During its military aggression against Azerbaijan, Armenia grossly violated many norms of international law, including the requirements of international humanitarian law. Despite the rules of war, civilians were captured or, in most cases, killed,” the commission said.
“There are many facts of incredible torture of prisoners and hostages, as well as evidence that by blackmail these persons were forced to cooperate with the Armenian special services and incited to provocative and terrorist actions against Azerbaijan.”
The commission takes measures to return the mentioned persons to their homeland, to search for missing persons, coordinates the work in this area with relevant government agencies, public and international organizations, collects information on the captured, taken hostage, and missing citizens, registers, and systematizes it.
Azerbaijan is working at the international level to bring global attention to the issue of missing persons and captives.
At Azerbaijan's initiative, the UN General Assembly adopts a resolution in connection with the missing persons every two years. Azerbaijan is also the initiator of the resolution "On the release of women and children taken hostage" adopted by the UN Commission on the Status of Women, the commission said.
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