In an opinion column, French politicians, artists, actors and intellectuals are demanding the French government act to push for the release of Armenian captives who are detained in Azerbaijan.
An estimated 200 Armenians are still captive and according to the Human Rights Watch, they are facing abuse in custody. The report states that Armenian POWs are tortured by Azerbaijani authorities and described these incidents as “war crimes.”
Actors Simon Abkarian, and Ariane Ascaride, Senator Valérie Boyer, Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, and philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy are among the signatories.
Find the translation of the opinion column below:
OPINION – Four months after the ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh, French public figures are demanding the release of Armenians detained in Azerbaijan.
Four months after the ceasefire agreement of November 9, 2020, signed by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia, the Baku regime still refuses to apply one of its main humanitarian clauses: the release of prisoners of war. It is estimated that two hundred prisoners of war are still detained in the prisons of this petro dictatorship. During a press conference on February 26, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev declared that he considered these detainees to be “terrorists,” arguing that their arrest took place after November 9. However, these soldiers were on that date trapped in Hadrut, one of the main fronts during the conflict and a city surrounded, but not yet occupied by the Turkish-Azerbaijani-Jihadist forces at the time of the signing of the ceasefire.
Using this pretext, the Azerbaijani Head of State is committing a gross violation of his obligations. This disregard of a signed document shatters all hope of a return to normal life for what remains of the Armenian people on their ancestral lands, one hundred years after the Genocide of 1915. This can only be interpreted as a manifestation of additional hatred towards this entity that President Aliyev had promised to “hunt like dogs.” And this, after 44 days of military aggression, bombardments and abuses which resulted in the death of 3,500 Armenian conscripts, most of them in their twenties, and the flight of tens of thousands of refugees.
The systematic practice of war crimes perpetrated by the Azerbaijani side throughout its offensive, and in particular the complacent dissemination of videos of summary executions, torture inflicted on soldiers as well as Armenian civilians, mutilations of corpses, let fear of the worst reign for those whose fate is now subject to the arbitrariness of a regime ranked among the very last on the planet in the report on freedom and democracy that Freedom House has just published. A ranking which is confirmed by all human rights NGO reports, including Reporters Without Borders, which places Azerbaijan in 168th place out of 180 countries, in its ranking on press freedom.
The signatories of this appeal ask France, a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, in charge of negotiations for a peaceful resolution of the conflict, to use all its tools to achieve the release of Armenian prisoners of war. If this group mandated by the OSCE has not been able to prevent war or defend the victims, let it at least ensure that this humanitarian clause of the ceasefire is respected.
An issue that appears to be the prerequisite for the establishment of a negotiated peace, a condition for the rule of law over violence in this region, which must not be abandoned to the grip of totalitarianism, pan-Turkism and barbarism.
Translated from French by Ani Paitjan