Armenian Villager Dies in Azeri Captivity

Azerbijani soldiers direct Karen Petrosian, an Armenian villager who crossed into Azerbaijan

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—A resident of an Armenian border village apprehended by Azerbaijani forces was reported dead on Friday one day after crossing into Azerbaijan in disputed circumstances.

The Defense Ministry in Baku said Karen Petrosian “suddenly” died in the morning. A ministry statement cited by Azerbaijani news agencies claimed that “acute heart and lung failure” is the likely cause of his death. It said that forensic doctors in the western Azerbaijani city of Gyanja are now conducting an autopsy on the young man’s body.

Armenia’s government and military were quick to reject this theory and say that Petrosian was tortured to death. In a statement, a government commission dealing with Armenian prisoners of war, hostages and missing persons said that Petrosian never suffered from heart disease. It demanded an international forensic examination of his body.

“We didn’t expect anything different from the Azerbaijani propaganda machine,” said Artsrun Hovannisian, the Armenian Defense Ministry spokesman.

Officials in Yerevan and Chinari, a village in the northeastern Tavush province where Petrosian lived, insisted on Thursday that he crossed the Armenian-Azerbaijani border by accident.

Initial news reports from Baku said that Petrosian was detained by villagers in Azerbaijan’s Tovuz district bordering Tavush and handed over to military authorities. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry claimed afterwards, however, that he is a member of an Armenian commando squad that tried unsuccessfully to conduct a cross-border sabotage attack. It said Azerbaijani troops captured him after killing four other Armenian soldiers. The Armenian military laughed off that claim.

Images released by the Azerbaijani authorities late on Thursday showed two masked men in army fatigues posing for a photograph with Petrosian. The latter wore army boots and a camouflage vest in that photo. Earlier pictures of the Armenian villagers, which were apparently taken by Azerbaijani civilians, showed him wearing sneakers and no pieces of military uniform.

Azerbaijani TV channels also broadcast video of Petrosian being taken to military headquarters in the town of Shamkir and interrogated there by an Azerbaijani general. “What do you all want from Azerbaijan?” the general asked the terrified man after accusing him of being an Armenian soldier sent to Azerbaijan for sabotage purposes.

“Please, take me back to Armenia, to my home,” pleaded Petrosian.

Petrosian’s death will rekindle memories of Manvel Saribekian, a 20-year-old resident of another Armenian border village who was captured by Azerbaijani soldiers in September 2010. A visibly injured Saribekian was paraded on Azerbaijani television, saying that he is a member of an Armenian commando squad that planned to carry out terrorist attacks in Azerbaijan.

Saribekian was found hanged in an Azerbaijani detention center shortly afterwards. The Azerbaijani authorities claimed that he committed suicide. The Armenian government said, however, that Saribekian was tortured to death or driven to suicide. Both the government and Saribekian’s family insisted that the young man was a civilian who accidentally crossed the Armenian-Azerbaijani border while grazing cattle.

Two residents of another Tavush village, Verin Karmiraghbyur, were detained on the Azerbaijani side of the frontier in separate incidents in January and March. They were freed after spending more than one month in captivity.

One of those villagers, the 77-year-old Mamikon Khojoyan, died in May after undergoing medical treatment in a Yerevan hospital. Doctors there said he suffered serious injuries in Azerbaijani custody.


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  1. PEACE said:

    getting peace in region is very easy, just leave Azerbsijani lands, go home and be normal neighbours.

    • Armenian said:

      “Normal neighbors”? Like you, who reward ax murderers and commit random acts of violence against innocent civilians like this guy so you can feel slightly better about yourself? Get real. You’re hardly an example of “normal” as Azerbaijan is home to some of the most outrageous examples of xenophobic hysteria in the world.

    • Sarkis Abrian said:

      If you meant the poor guy mentioned in the article, all he was asking for is to let him go home, but apparently this is not what you intended to tell us here

      As to the people of Mountainous Kharagh , they are already at home and they are going nowhere. There are hundreds of years old Khatchkars that can prove this. Do you know what is a khatchkar ? these are the same Armenia tombstones you managed to destroy in Nakhichevan. As you said, peace is very easy to get in the region, just leave them alone and let them live their lives as they want.

  2. Armenian said:

    How absolutely pathetic. They needed a minor “victory” after their recent humiliation, so they captured an innocent villager and tortured him to death. These people have neither shame nor honor. These are the heroes of Axerbaijan– ax murders and renegade thugs like these. Keep in mind, that all of these attitudes are only strengthened by the unchecked authority of the Aliyev Sultanate that has only been made possible due to a lack of democratic values and democracy in that country. Yet people somehow argue that “democracy” and not autocrats like Putin or Aliyev, poses a threat to the collective well-being of mankind.

  3. krikor said:

    this explains why it is out of the question for any armenian to live under Azerbaijani jurisdiction!!!!

  4. Daron said:

    The poor guy just being brought out of waterboarding interrogation. Most likely he died during waterboarding interrogation too.

  5. Azerbaijani said:

    This is truly sad and embarrassing to Azeri side. May all prisoners of war rest in peace.

    • Armenian said:

      He wasn’t a prisoner of war, he was captured and accused of infiltration and then arbitrarily killed. There is footage of him sitting in a tea house with Azeris moments before he got abducted and dressed up as a soldier, then paraded on television for Aliyev’s propaganda machine. An innocent man can walk into your territory and get killed for no reason at all; this is the degenerate state of affairs in your country. Then you wonder why Armenians don’t want to be apart of Azerbaijan.