Nobel Prize laureates, business leaders, former heads of state, and humanitarians are among the more than 150 global figures who have signed a letter calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the “Armenian Prisoners” in Azerbaijan, which includes eight Armenian political prisoners, who are former leaders of Nagorno-Karabakh’s government illegally detained following Azerbaijan’s invasion and seizure of the region in September.
More than a dozen other prisoners of war arrested during the conflict also remain in custody.
The collective plea echoes growing concerns over conditions and treatment of these imprisoned individuals, including prominent Armenian businessman and humanitarian, Ruben Vardanyan. Their arrest follows a campaign of ethnic cleansing by the Azerbaijani forces.
While the December 7 release of 32 Armenian prisoners of war is a welcome first step, all of the others must be released. The failure of Baku to release the remaining 8 political prisoners raises deep concerns over the motives by the Aliyev regime of their continued detention.
“The human rights abuses witnessed in the wake of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict demand urgent attention and action,” said Noubar Afeyan, a signatory as well as the co-founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative. “President Aliyev chooses political retribution over justice. We believe in the inherent dignity and rights of every individual and call on the international community to join us in condemning this injustice.”
Afeyan has long collaborated on global and regional economic development and humanitarian projects with Vardanyan, who has become a symbol of the broader struggle for political freedom and human dignity in the region. His unjust imprisonment has galvanized some of the world’s most respected voices to champion his cause and that of others unjustly detained.