What about POWs? Officials in Baku and Yerevan want to know answer

Agency WPS
DEFENSE and SECURITY (Russia)
August 10, 2007 Friday

WHAT ABOUT POWS?;
The question officials in Baku and Yerevan want to know an answer to

R. Orujev

BAKU AND YEREVAN: NEITHER KNOWS WHAT TO DO WITH PRISONERS OF WAR;
Countries involved in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh do not know
what to do with POWs.

The general public remains largely up in the air on the question if
the Azerbaijani and Armenian military and civilians end up as POWs of
their own volition or under compulsion. It is only known at this
point that several citizens of Azerbaijan are POWs in Armenia and on
the occupied Azerbaijani territories and that several Armenians are
POWs this side of the front.

The identities of all these people are known. On the other hand, the
validity of what media outlets report concerning the circumstances of
their capture and whether or not they had any personal motives to
cross the front line remains questionable. Whether or not the
exchange of POWs may be arranged is another question without a clear
answer.

Here is what is known, which is not much.

Corporal Samir Mamedov was taken prisoner in late December 2006. He
is kept in Yerevan.

Ashraf Jafarov, a mental hospital patient, was seized on June 30.
Occupiers have him in Hankendi now.

Anar Aliyev (born in 1978), was taken prisoner on the line of contact
on August 2. Young man with college education, Aliyev had served his
country in uniformed capacity.

A soldier of the Armenian regular army defected to Azerbaijan on
August 4. Ambartsum Mnjakovich Asutarjan was born in the Armavik
district of Armenia in 1984. He was drafted on May 17. Asutarjan
explained his decision to defect to the tyranny and lawlessness in
the Armenian Armed Forces where he said soldiers were regularly
assaulted and even tortured by officers. According to Lieutenant
Colonel Senor Asratjan, Press Secretary of the so-called Defense
Ministry of the so-called Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, maintains in the
meantime that Asutarjan, 23, went AWOL on August 4 and ended up on
the Azerbaijani territory. The so- called Defense Ministry calls
Asutarjan a draft-dodger enlisted only in May 2007. Unit commanders
call Asutarjan "a difficult serviceman" and a born draft-dodger.

One Valery Suleimanjan (civilian), resident of the occupied Mardakert
district of Nagorno-Karabakh, was taken prisoner this spring. He is
in custody in the detention cell of the National Security Ministry of
the Republic of Azerbaijan and displays no inclination to go back.

Eldar Safarov, the head of the Press Secretary of the Azerbaijani
Defense Ministry, said yesterday that "we are clarifying all points"
concerning the possibility of exchange and promised to be more exact
quite soon.

"The warring sides may do all they want, they may even exchange POWs
without the consent of these latter," human rights activist Murad
Sadaddinov said. "International practice in the meantime does not
permit the return of the people by force when the people in question
surrendered in the first place of their own volition. The situation
being what it is, however, I won’t be surprised to hear of exceptions
to the rule."

Source: Ekho (Baku), August 7, 2007, EV

Translated by A. Ignatkin

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