Red Cross Officials Trying to See Soldier
YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—An Armenian army officer was taken prisoner by Azerbaijani forces over the weekend.
Armenia’s Defense Ministry said the junior officer, Gurgen Alaverdyan, lost his way due to “extremely unfavorable weather conditions” as he was about to inspect an Armenian frontline position on Saturday evening. It did not specify whether the position is located on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border or the “line of contact” around Karabakh.
The Azerbaijani military claimed, meanwhile, that its troops deployed in the Goranboy district just north of Karabakh captured Alaverdyan while fighting back an Armenian commando attack early on Sunday.
Shushan Stepanyan, the spokeswoman for the Defense Ministry in Yerevan, dismissed the claim as “disinformation.”
“There was no [Armenian] sabotage attack,” said Stepanyan. “They are just trying to portray the officer who lost his way as a saboteur.” She said the ministry has launched an internal inquiry to ascertain all circumstances of his disappearance.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Tuesday that its representatives in Baku are trying to visit Alaverdyan.
“Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross are now engaged in a dialogue on this issue with relevant authorities in Armenia and Azerbaijan,” Zara Amatuni, the spokeswoman for the ICRC office in Yerevan, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
“Usually, the Red Cross’s role in such situations is to receive permission to immediately visit [detained] individuals in order to be able to verify, through periodical visits, their treatment and detention conditions and to help them keep in touch with their families,” she said.
The ICRC hopes to be allowed to visit Alaverdyan in custody “as soon possible,” added Amatuni.
Azerbaijan’s government-controlled online media released, meanwhile, a video of Azerbaijani servicemen insulting and humiliating the captured Armenian officer. Armenia’s human rights ombudsman, Arman Tatoyan, condemned it as a manifestation of ethnically motivated hatred and violation of international conventions.
“We have taken note of these troubling facts,” said Tatoyan. “With appropriate analyses I have appealed to … relevant international bodies, human rights commissioners, the Red Cross and others to bring the matter to their attention and to show the blatant violation of human rights.”