Human Rights Watch Condemns Execution of Armenian POWs

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NEW YORK (Azatutyun) — The New York-based watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) has added its voice to international condemnation of the apparent execution by Azerbaijani troops of Armenian soldiers taken prisoner during last month’s border clashes.

A 40-second video posted on Azerbaijani social media accounts on October 2 shows at least seven Armenian servicemen being shot dead by their captors at what looks like a frontline position.

The video caused shock and indignation in Armenia, with the authorities in Yerevan accusing the Azerbaijani army of committing yet another war crime. The office of Armenia’s human rights ombudswoman believes that it was filmed on September 13 hours after Azerbaijani forces attacked and seized some of the Armenian army positions along the border between the two states.

HRW condemned the killings as a “heinous war crime” after examining their footage through a variety of techniques, including by consulting with weapons and medical experts. In a weekend report, it said Azerbaijani authorities must ensure that an investigation announced by them “leads to accountability for the soldiers and commanders responsible.”

“These soldiers had been captured and laid down their arms,” the report quoted Hugh Williamson, HRW’s Europe and Central Asia director, as saying.

“Their captors had an obligation to treat them humanely, and instead it appears that Azerbaijani forces shot them in cold blood,” added Williamson. ”Now they need to be held accountable.”

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The US State Department said on October 3 that it is “deeply disturbed” by the executions and urged Baku to conduct a “full and impartial investigation.” Similar statements have also been made by other Western powers.

Azerbaijani law-enforcement authorities have not reported any arrests in their purported investigation of the killings.

Armenian officials have accused the Azerbaijani military of also killing several other Armenian soldiers captured during the September 13-14 hostilities.

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