Armenia’s Foreign Ministry condemned the “degrading” treatment of Armenian soldier Gurgen Alaverdyan, who was captured by Azerbaijani forces when he mistakenly crossed the border into Azerbaijan’s territory Saturday.
Labeling him a “prisoner of war,” Armenia’s foreign ministry, in an announcement issued on Thursday called Baku’s action “a flagrant and gross violation of the international humanitarian law.”
Since his capture, videos have surfaced on social media depicting Azerbaijani soldier surrounding Alaverdyan and hurling anti-Armenian insults at him. In another video, circulated widely by Azerbaijani press outlets, Alaverdyan is shown sitting in front of an Azerbaijani flag and repeating Baku’s narrative of the incident, which claims that the Armenian soldier was on a commando mission and was captured. In this video, Alaverdyan also claims to want to stay in Azerbaijan, saying “the Armed Forces of Armenia have no chances to defeat the Azerbaijani army.”
Official Yerevan said that by violating Alaverdyan’s dignity, Azerbaijan denies him the respect to his person and honor, which, the ministry explained, was enshrined in the third Geneva Concention.
The foreign ministry said that such ill-treatment is a “distinctive method used by notorious terrorist organizations and, as we can see, Azerbaijan as well.”
“Azerbaijan’s dictatorial regime, while feeding its people disgraceful propaganda and Armenophobia, covers up the serious setbacks of its armed forces during the July battles by coercing the prisoner of war to read out its sham narrative,” said Armenia’s foreign ministry.
“The fact that Azerbaijan is one of the few countries that has refused to ratify all additional protocols of the Geneva Conventions, also demonstrates its disregard for international humanitarian law,” added the foreign ministry. “Azerbaijan’s continued violation of international humanitarian law seriously undermines the establishment of an environment conducive to peace,” said the foreign ministry.
Armenia’s Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan discussed the Alaverdyan matter with reporters on Friday saying that Yerevan is certain that the OSCE, the International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as relevant United Nations organization will do their utmost to ensure the captive Armenian soldiers return to Armenia.
Reiterating the Alaverdyan got lost and inadvertently crossed over to the Azerbaijani side, Tonoyan said that a request for the ICRC to meet with the soldier has not been granted by Azerbaijan. He also did not rule out that Alaverdyan may have been kidnapped.
“We still have to determine if he was possibly kidnapped or under what other circumstances led him to cross the border,” said Tonoyan, adding that depending on the various scenarios Armenia will work with the appropriate international bodies to resolve the matter.
“Right now our demand is for at least the International Red Cross representatives in Azerbaijan to visit our serviceman. As of this moment this request hasn’t been fulfilled,” Tonoyan explained, adding that he has contacted the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Andrzej Kasprzyk and said that the videos being circulated by Azerbaijan constitute a violation of international humanitarian law.
Armenia’s Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan issued a public report detaining the human rights violations committed against Alaverdyan by Azerbaijani military officers and others.
“According to Article 14 of the Geneva Convention III ‘Prisoners of War are entitled in all circumstances to respect for their persons and their honor’,” explained Tatoyan.
“The filming and publicizing the videos from August 23, 2020 violates Mr. Gurgen Alaverdyan’s right to the respect for his dignity and honor protected by Article 14 of the same Convention,” said Tatoyan. “This international obligation prohibits any verbal assault and precludes any treatment during detention that humiliates prisoners, for example, scornful language or other harassment.”