Armenia Discusses POW’s Case with UNHCR

Deputy Defense Minister of Armenia Davit Tonoyan

YEREVAN—On Thursday, Sep. 19, Armenian Deputy Minister of Defense Davit Tonoyan held a meeting with Christoph Bierwirth, UNHCR Representative in Armenia, to discuss the prospects of general cooperation in relevant spheres of mutual interest, the press service of the Ministry of Defense reports.

During the meeting, Tonoyan touched upon the situation concerning the Armenian POW Hakob Injighulyan held in Azeri captivity. He referred to a recent press release on an Azeri media outlet, quoting an Azeri commissioner who said that the Armenian POW Hakob Injighulyan reportedly made a request to be sent to a third country. If this information is not yet another propaganda trick on the part of Baku, the logical follow-up would suggest the engagement of the UNHCR office in Baku, according to its mandate to proceed with determination of a refugee status for Injighulyan.

He also informed that the Armenian side has reiterated its pledge for several times that Injighulyan will not be subject to any criminal prosecution, thus eliminating any possibility of “well-founded fear of being persecuted,” especially when no other grounds exist to confirm this fear based on race, nationality, religion, political opinion, etc.

Emphasizing the above-mentioned facts he called upon UNHCR and other stake holders to consider these facts in their approach when addressing such a case.

The Deputy Minister noted that granting Injighulyan a “refugee status” could be understood as a chance for him to escape inevitable physical abuse, torture, or other tragic consequences, as has been experienced before in similar cases, such as that of Manvel Saribekyan – a shepherd who was brutally killed while being held under Azerbaijani captivity. However, it was emphasized that negative precedents should be avoided and the course of action should be considered extremely carefully given the complex pattern.

Bierwirth took note of the position expressed by the Deputy Minister and promised to share it with his headquarters in Geneva. He emphasized, however, the independence of UNHCR in conducting mandate status determination procedures and the purely humanitarian, non-political mandate of UNHCR.

In addition it was stated that Armenia is ready to discuss such cases on a bilateral level with Azerbaijan, without mediation efforts from existing international frameworks and formats.

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