Armenia ready to discuss the issue of PoWs with Azerbaijan without mediators

On September 19, Mr. Davit Tonoyan, First Deputy Minister of Defense of RA had a meeting with  Mr. Christoph Bierwirth, UNHCR Representative in Armenia and discussed prospects of  general cooperation in relevant spheres of mutual interest, Press Service of the Ministry of Defense reports.

During the meeting Mr.Tonoyan inter alia touched upon the situation concerning the Armenian POW Hakob Injighulyan held in Azerbaijani captivity. He referred to a recent press release on an Azerbaijani media outlet quoting Mr.Shahin Sailov, Secretary of State Commission of Azerbaijan on POW, Detainees and Missing in Action who said that the Armenian POW Hakob Injighulyan reportedly made a request to be sent to a 3rd country. If this information is not yet another propaganda trick on part of the Azerbaijani authorities, the logical follow-up would suggest engagement of the UNHCR office in Baku according to its mandate to proceed with determination of a refugee status for H. Injighulyan.

He also informed that the Armenian side has reiterated its pledge for several times that Injighulyan will not be subject to any criminal prosecution thus eliminating any possibility of “well-founded fear of being persecuted”, especially when no other grounds exist  to confirm this fear based on race, nationality, religion, political opinion, etc.

Emphasizing the above-mentioned facts he called upon UNHCR and other stake holders to consider these facts in their approach when addressing such cases.

The First Deputy Minister noted that granting Injighulyan a “refugee status” could be understood as a  chance for him to escape inevitable physical abuse, torture or other tragic consequences as experienced before in similar cases such as Manvel Saribekyan’s– a shepherd who was brutally killed while being captive under Azerbaijani protection.  However, it was emphasized that negative precedents should be avoided thus the course of action should be considered extremely carefully given the complex pattern.

Mr. Bierwirth took note of the position expressed by the First Deputy Minister and promised to share it with his headquarters in Geneva. He emphasized, however, the independence of UNHCR in conducting mandate status determination procedures and the purely humanitarian, non-political mandate of UNHCR.

In addition it was stated that Armenia is ready to discuss such cases on a bilateral level with Azerbaijan without mediation efforts in existing international or any other frameworks and formats.

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