“Exchange of the hostages can create trust between conflict sides” – Ahmad Shahidov appeals to Armenian officials at OSCE Warsaw Summit

On September 10, the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) of OSCE participating States, organized by OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) started its work in Warsaw, Poland. Representatives of OSCE participating States, OSCE institutions, and OSCE executive structures, representatives of inter-governmental organizations, legal professionals, representatives of civil society and researchers from 57 participating States took part in discussions.

On September 13, taking an active part in discussions on the topic of “Rule of law: prevention of arbitrary arrest and torture, fight against terrorism”, Head of Azerbaijan Institute for Democracy and Human Rights Dr. Ahmad Shahidov gave information about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict facing Azerbaijan, shared statistics on captured people and hostages during the conflict, and said that hundreds of Azerbaijanis are currently being held hostage in Armenia and occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, and that there is no information about them: “Today, 3875 Azerbaijanis are held hostage on the Armenian side. 3168 of them are military men and 707 are civilians. These persons were taken hostage in 1991-1994. These people are exposed to illegal exploitation and torture and become victims of human trafficking. From time to time, we receive some unspecified information about them. But official Yerevan denied this information and did not allow independent observers to meet with Azerbaijani hostages.”

Referring to the release of Azerbaijani hostages Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev, human rights defender Dr. Ahmad Shahidov said that Armenia does not comply with international law and has grossly violated the requirements of the UN Geneva Convention. Expressing strong hope that the new government of Armenia will end this policy, the head of the AIDHR also stressed that the exchange of Azerbaijani civilian hostages with Armenian military diversants could create a trusting atmosphere among the conflict sides: “Azerbaijani civilians Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev have been illegally detained for five years and the Armenian side actually keeps them hostage. During this period, we have repeatedly raised this issue on international platforms and have made appeals to the Armenian side. Unfortunately, Armenia’s former government ignored the requirements of international law. Today, two Armenian military diversants are detained in Azerbaijan. Arsen Bagdasaryan and Karen Kazaryan crossed the contact line at different times and tried to commit various sabotage on the Azerbaijani side and were detained by Azerbaijani soldiers. I think that the new Armenian government will approach the issue more plausibly and will respond positively to the exchange of hostages. This can, first of all, lead to an atmosphere of trust among the parties of the conflict.”

PS. The Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) of OSCE participating States is Europe’s largest annual human rights and democracy conference. It is organized every year by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) as a platform for the 57 OSCE participating States, the OSCE Partners for Co-operation, OSCE structures, civil society, international organizations and other relevant actors to take stock of the implementation of OSCE human dimension commitments, discuss associated challenges, share good practices and make recommendations for further improvement.

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