Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have still not been able to visit an Armenian army officer who was captured by Azerbaijani troops late last month, officials in Yerevan said on Wednesday.
A spokeswoman for the ICRC office in Yerevan, Zara Amatuni, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that the ICRC is continuing its “dialogue” with relevant Armenian and Azerbaijani authorities regarding the officer, Gurgen Alaverdian. She would not say when the Azerbaijani side could allow ICRC representatives in Baku to meet and speak with Alaverdian.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry also reported continuing efforts to arrange such a visit. “Given the sensitivity of the issue I won’t give other details,” said the ministry spokeswoman, Anna Naghdalian.
The Azerbaijani military claims that Alaverdian was taken prisoner during a failed Armenian commando raid on one of its frontline positions north of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Armenian Defense Ministry strongly denies this, saying that Alaverdian simply lost his way on August 22 due to poor weather.
Yerevan has said that Baku’s treatment of the Armenian serviceman constitutes a serious violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention on prisoners of war. It has specifically decried an Azerbaijani Defense Ministry vide shows the serviceman saying in broken Armenian that he led a special army unit that planned to carry out “sabotage” attacks in Azerbaijan. It says he was clearly forced to read out a written text badly translated into Armenian.
The Azerbaijani authorities brought a string of criminal charges against Alaverdian following the release of the video last week.
Naghdalian deplored this and other “trumped-up” criminal cases brought against Armenian citizens held in Azerbaijani captivity.
“I want point out in this regard that two citizens of Azerbaijan have crossed into Armenia in the course of this year alone,” she told a news conference. “Unlike Azerbaijan, Armenia has not prosecuted them or portrayed them as prisoners of war and fully respects their dignity and human rights.”