Armenia Condemns Treatment of Armenian Captive in Azerbaijan

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YEREVAN (ARKA) — Deputy Armenian Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan slammed international humanitarian organizations and human rights activists for their failure to respond to what he described as “Azerbaijan’s permissiveness” regarding an Armenian army conscript, Hakob Idjighulyan, captured by Azeri troops earlier this month near Nagorno-Karabagh.

Tonoyan’s remarks came as he met with representatives of the Armenian offices of the United Nations Hire Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Committee of Red Cross. He said Armenian authorities are concerned over the continued violation of the captured conscript’s rights.

Tonoyan was quoted as saying that no international organization has condemned the ‘interview’ with Hakob Ijighulyan, broadcast by an Azerbaijani TV.

The Azerbaijani side claims that Injighulyan defected to its frontline troops on August 8 after being physically abused by one of his commanders. The Armenian military denied this, saying the 22-year-old conscript accidentally strayed into Azerbaijani-controlled territory. It has condemned Baku for publically interrogating the POW.

“It is evident that Azerbaijani authorities are exerting strong moral and psychological and possibly physical pressure on Hagop, forcing him to make contradictory statements. A forced interview can not be considered as grounds for his handing to a third country,” the Armenian Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Tonoyan reiterated that Ijighulyan will not face prosecution once repatriated. The press service also said that no citizen of Armenia previously repatriated from Azerbaijan had ever been  prosecuted.

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The Armenian authorities offered last week to swap Ijighulyan for an Azerbaijani soldier who crossed into Armenia and was detained a year ago. There has been no official response to the offer from Azerbaijan thus far.