Armenia Condemns Azerbaijan Over Captive’s Death


YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Armenia accused Azerbaijan on Wednesday of murdering an Armenian man who died in Azerbaijani captivity in unclear circumstances the previous day, RFE/RL’s Armenia Service reported.

Manvel Saribekian, 20, was reportedly found hanged in a detention center in Azerbaijan nearly one month after being captured on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. The Azerbaijani authorities said he committed suicide and claimed to have found traces of violence on his body.

The Armenian government dismissed this explanation, saying that Saribekian was tortured to death or “driven to suicide.” Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian condemned his “horrendous” death in unusually strong terms.

“This is a behavior characteristic of well-known terrorists: to humiliate a hostage in front of TV cameras and then kill him,” Nalbandian said in the Armenian parliament.

“Obviously, it’s not possible to solve issues in the 21st century with such medieval methods. And as we know, violence is a sign of weakness,” he added.

The minister was referring to an interview with Saribekian that was aired by a government-controlled Azerbaijani TV channel last month. The young man, who had what looked a like bruise under his right eye, was shown saying that he was a member of an Armenian sabotage unit that planned to blow up a school in an Azerbaijani border village.

The Armenian authorities insist that Saribekian was a resident of Tutujur, a village in northeastern Armenia close to the Azerbaijani border, who strayed into Azerbaijani territory while grazing cattle on September 11. They say he completed his military service in May.

Tutujur’s mayor, Samvel Stepanian, likewise said that the captive was a civilian. “I knew the boy and can say that he wouldn’t do such a thing,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “He would commit suicide only if he was treated so badly that he felt hanging himself would be better than living.”

“He wasn’t quite educated and was from a very poor family,” said Stepanian. “He was often the family’s main hope.”

The Armenian Defense Ministry issued a statement Wednesday echoing Nalbandian’s condemnation and “holding [Azerbaijan’s] authorities responsible for the tragic death,”  ArmRadio reported.

The Defense Ministry also called on the International Committee of the Red Cross (IRRC)  to hold Azerbaijan accountable for “once again blatantly violating international humanitarian norms, particularly and the Convention on treatment of war prisoners.”

Official Baku, it added, “ignores the OSCE Minsk Group’s efforts to resolve the Karabakh conflict peacefully on the days when the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs are carrying out a field assessment mission.”

An IRRC spokesman, meanwhile, said the authorities in Baku never allowed representatives of the Geneva-based group to meet Saribekian in custody. “We were engaged in a confidential dialogue with the authorities aimed at visiting him,” Ashot Astabatsian told RFE/RL. “But we didn’t visit him because we didn’t get a permission to do that up until his death.”

Mikael Danielian, a prominent Armenian human rights campaigner, suggested that the Azerbaijani authorities, which normally allow Red Cross officials to visit Armenian captives, had “something to hide.” “That give me reason to suspect that the lad was tortured,” he said. “The Red Cross must conduct an investigation and clarify all details.”

Speaking to RFE/RL, Danielian also said that he has written to fellow human rights activists in Azerbaijan asking them to also investigate circumstances of Saribekian’s death and prevent a government cover-up.

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5 Comments

  1. ZARMAIR said:

    Did we really expect anything different ? Do you remember the Armenian soldier murdered in his sleep. Is there any doubt left in our minds to the horror our people endured between 1915 and 1923?

  2. eddy said:

    We know that Azerbaijani government is acting more and more like the well known international terrorists and criminal gangs…

    BUT

    This is a scandal that the family of this killed young man do not get needed support and information and care form RA authorities /officials. Since Manvel Saribekian was not in RA army, his family should get support form RA politicians rather from RA defence ministry. Did a politician or official from Yerevan visited the family of Manvel ? Why it is not possible to give his other brother 1 or 2 weak off/holiday to be by his parents?

    see part 00:08
    http://www.azatutyun.am/video/11308.html

  3. SIRVART said:

    Zarmair,

    The Azeri soldier was actually a high ranking officer who went with his Armenian counterpart to attend a course per EU’s request. At night the Azeri officer went into the Armenian officer’s room and he severed his head by killing him. The tatars that are today’s Azeris haven’t changed an iota in 100 years.

  4. SIRVART said:

    Eddy,

    I most certainly agree with you. After all, Samvel Saribekian was a civilian and the citizen of Armenia and he should have had the complete support and the protection of the Armenian government. Plus, Samvel Saribekian served his time as an Armenian soldier and he should have gotten more respect, protection and the love of his country, especially right after serving his country like a good citizen. When any American citizen gets unjuustly treated and then killed, America goes all the way to protect their citizens. It is international law to do so. The citizen of any given country must protect her citizens all the way, and the belligerent and unjust country must be taken to international court and be totally condemned for disobeying international law and killing innocent citizens of other countries. That’s why there is such a thing as Red Cross and international law. Furthermore, when the Armenian government it looks as though they failed to fully protect or pursue to protect Saribekian; today, the least they can do is let go of the second son to be the breadwinner of this poor and heartbroken family. My heart goes all the way to the Saribekian family; and I hope the Armenian government does the right thing to the already stricken family by giving them a helping hand, then see to it that the Azeri government is completely condemned through international law.

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