By Avo Piroyan
On 7 December, a video circulated on social media channels of Armenia’s Parliamentary Speaker, Alen Simonyan, criticizing Armenian prisoners of war in Azerbaijan and questioning their intent/goals when surrendering to Azerbaijan.
He said, “When terrorists hijack a plane, Israel does not negotiate with them, it shoots down that plane. Do you know who these prisoners are?
These are people who threw down their weapons, fled and got lost. I cannot speak about it publicly. Are you not interested in why the parents of these prisoners are not active now? Because these people know that the soldiers have deserted. They left their weapons and fled, and were captured.”
The private comments followed public ones by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in parliament on November 17, a day after a major flare-up in violence in Armenia’s south that led to more Armenian POWs. Pashinyan, taking a critical tone, said, “there needs to be a discussion around what it means to become a prison of war and under what circumstances [this happens].”
The comments mark a major shift in the Armenian government’s position towards Armenian POWs in Azerbaijan.