The Lemkin Institute is deeply concerned about the breaking news of the arrest and detention of former Artsakh State Minister Ruben Vardanyan by Azerbaijan’s State Border Service. The Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention noted this in a statement it posted on X—former Twitter. It added as follows:
Vardanyan, an outspoken advocate for Artsakh’s [(Nagorno-Karabakh)] right to self-determination, is particularly hated by Azerbaijan. His detention poses a very high risk of torture and extrajudicial execution or a show trial. He and other current and former members of the Artsakh government and self-defense army have been branded as “separatists” and “terrorists,” categories that states use to justify illegal detention and murder.
Concern for the life and safety of Vardanyan is especially warranted given the treatment that Armenian POWs have received in Azerbaijani captivity since 2020. They have been tortured, humiliated, murdered, disappeared, and subjected to show trials. This is well documented.
Russia and the United States as well as all other world leaders must demand Vardanyan’s safe passage out of Azerbaijan and must ensure that other members of the Artsakh government, as well as members of of the Artsakh Defense Army, are also allowed to leave. We remind the world that the detention, killing, and disappearance of elites is a common act of genocide.