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The Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention has strongly condemned the continued and unlawful imprisonment of Armenian officials and civilians of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) by Azerbaijan.

"Given the high risk of serious violations of human rights against these individuals, including the loss of life, the need for a strong international presence has never been more urgent. Consequently, the Lemkin Institute calls on the international community to take necessary steps to secure the prompt and safe repatriation of all Armenian prisoners of war (POWs), officials, and civilians held hostage in Azerbaijan," the respective statement notes, in particular.

The Lemkin Institute reminded that Azerbaijan is detaining eight high-ranking officials of Artsakh, namely: Ruben Vardanyan, former State Minister of Artsakh; Major General Davit Manukyan, former First Deputy Commander of the Artsakh Defense Army; Davit Babayan, former Adviser to the President and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Artsakh; Levon Mnatsakanyan, former Commander of the Artsakh Defense Army; Arkadi Ghukasyan, the second President of Artsakh; Bako Sahakyan, the third President of Artsakh; Arayik Harutyunyan, the fourth President and former State Minister of Artsakh; and Davit Ishkhanyan, the last President of the National Assembly of Artsakh.

The message of the Lemkin Institute states that while the suffering of all Armenians currently detained by the dictatorial regime of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev is deeply troubling, the Lemkin Institute is especially concerned about Vardanyan’s situation.

"The former State Minister, businessman, and philanthropist is particularly loathed in Azerbaijan due to his outspoken and unwavering support for Artsakh’s right to self-determination," the statement added.

In its statement dated 28 September, the Lemkin Institute protested against the sentencing of Vardanyan to four months of “preventive detention,” which was presumed to be followed by legal proceedings involving a variety of fabricated claims that could potentially lead to a 14-year prison sentence.

The Lemkin Institute expressed its concerns regarding the possibility that President Aliyev’s regime could make an example out of Vardanyan or any other of the high-ranking officials, given their symbolic and historic significance for Artsakh’s independence cause.

The Lemkin Institute has once again called on the international community to “persuade President Aliyev’s regime into promptly releasing all Armenian civilians and POWs under its jurisdiction.”

Additionally, it exhorted the international community to “refrain from providing any kind of assistance that could worsen the suffering of the victims of the Artsakh genocide or embolden Azerbaijan to perpetrate any unlawful act of aggression against Armenian territory.”

This text available in   Հայերեն and Русский
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