International group denies Azeri children held in Armenian captivity

International group denies Azeri children held in Armenian captivity

Noyan Tapan news agency
3 Jun 04

Yerevan, 3 June: The international working group to release POWs and
hostages and to trace missing persons in the zone of the Karabakh
conflict states with full confidence that information about camps for
Azerbaijani kamikaze children, which is allegedly located in Lacin
[Armenian-occupied Azerbaijani district], is wide of the mark.

The Azerbaijani newspaper Zerkalo published on 20 May an article by
journalist Lala Nuri headlined “Lacin-Buchenwald for Azerbaijani
children”. The article appeared after the co-chairman of the
international working group for POWs, hostages and missing persons
in the zone of the Karabakh conflict, Paata Zakareishvili, described
as a myth a report by two defectors from Armenia, Roman Teryan and
Artur Apresyan, who had said that Azerbaijani children were being
trained as kamikazes in Armenian captivity. The article reported that a
certain businessman Asaf Alimardanov called the editorial office of the
newspaper and said that an American engineer (?Terry Kagel), who used
to work with him, met Azerbaijani children held by Armenians during
his trip to occupied Lacin in the 1990s. At the request of Zerkalo
newspaper, Alimardanov contacted Kagel again and received, according
to the journalist, more detailed information which confirms that
Azerbaijani children are being held in a special camp in Lacin. The
newspaper reported that the editorial office had Mr Kagel’s office
telephone number. Mrs Nuri suggested that the international working
group find and return the Azerbaijani children to the motherland.

Since one of the forms of the work of the international working group
is to check such information, the group, as its press release says,
immediately started to implement the task set by the newspaper. Having
obtained Terry Kagel’s telephone number from the editorial office, the
members of the group called him and told him about the Zerkalo article
which had mentioned his name. Mr Kagel was extremely surprised and
asked them to send him a translation of the article. The co-chairman
of the international working group, Bernhard Clasen, accepted his
request. In his reply, Kagel flatly denied the facts cited in the
article and suggested calling two people Pastor David Goehring and
volunteer Stan Brown who had repeatedly visited Lacin on a humanitarian
mission under an AGAPE project. Bernhard Clasen held two conversations
with the two employees of AGAPE and received clearer information
saying that they had rendered assistance to a children’s institution
for Armenian children in Lacin.

The international working group decided not to publish this
information, as it had not seen this institution for itself and
had not spoken to AGAPE employees. On 2 June, the co-chairmen of the
international working group, Bernhard Clasen and Svetlana Gannushkina,
visited Lacin and went to a boarding school. It has 28 children from
difficult and incomplete families, and 18 of the children have only
one parent. The boarding school has had only four orphans so far. The
age of the children is between five and 18. These are mainly children
from refugee families. They are looked after very well – the girls
are taught needlework and the boys are dealing with housekeeping. The
AGAPE project has been working in this region since 1994, helping to
supply medical equipment to a hospital and implementing educational
programmes. Its employees were extremely surprised by the supposition
that Azerbaijani children could be held hostage in the boarding school.

The press release has been signed by Svetlana Gannushkina, Bernhard
Clasen and Paata Zakareishvili.