Azerbaijani FM’s letter to Secretary General regarding Azerbaijani soldiers captured by Armenia circulated as UN document

Jeyhun Bayramov, Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan

© APA | Jeyhun Bayramov, Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan

# 24 May 2023 14:57 (UTC +04:00)

The letter of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Jeyhun Bayramov, addressed to the UN Secretary General regarding the Azerbaijani soldiers Babirov Agshin and Akhundov Huseyn, who were captured by Armenia, was circulated as documents of the UN Security Council and the General Assembly, APA reports.

It was noted in the letter that the two Azerbaijani servicemen, Mr. Agshin Babirov and Mr. Huseyn Akhundov, lost their way due to bad weather conditions and accidently crossed into the territory of Armenia.

"Afterwards, as it became evident from multiple videos and photographs disseminated through Armenian social media resources, the two servicemen were subjected to cruel and degrading treatment, heavily beaten and humiliated," it was noted.

"Thus, on 8 May 2023, an Armenian court declared Mr. Agshin Babirov guilty of unlawfully crossing the border with firearms and ammunition and ordered 11 years, 6 months and 15 days prison sentence against him. The so-called investigation with regard to Mr. Akhundov, who is accused of murdering an Armenian national, continues. Given the sham order on Mr. Babirov, it is quite expected that an even worse “decision” will be followed with respect to him.

Against this background, it is of particular importance to emphasize that the sham investigation and order were accompanied by numerous controversial statements with respect to the Azerbaijani servicemen. Thus, the Armenian Prime Minister stated that Mr. Babirov had allegedly crossed the border to seek asylum, and thus did not want to return to Azerbaijan. This was then followed by statements by high-level Armenian authorities that Mr. Babirov had allegedly requested to be transferred to a third country through the relevant international institution. Yet despite these statements, the Armenian authorities opened a criminal investigation against Mr. Babirov and, through a hasty investigation process, in less than a month found him guilty of illegal crossing the border and ordered his imprisonment.

The same contradictory statements and fabricated criminal case were also followed with regard to Mr. Akhundov. At the outset, the Investigative Commission of Armenia stated that there is no evidence regarding the involvement of the Azerbaijani servicemen with the murder of an Armenian citizen. Late r on, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, in its statement on 19 April 2023, already declared the Azerbaijani soldier guilty of the deliberate and brutal murder of an Armenian citizen, even without a court judgment. This constitutes a blatant viola tion of such a fundamental principle as the presumption of innocence.

With this irresponsible and provocative behaviour, Armenia once again demonstrates its disregard for its legal responsibility under international humanitarian law, and instead, recklessly opts to undermine the fragile process of normalization and reconciliation after a bloody conflict that took thousands of lives from both sides. It is especially worrisome that Armenia’s conduct with respect to the captured Azerbaijani servicemen is in stark contrast with the actions Azerbaijan demonstrated in similar cases. As a sign of confidence-building measures, the Azerbaijani side immediately and unconditionally released more than 10 Armenian servicemen who like the two Azerbaijanis of concern, had lost their way and crossed the state border of Azerbaijan accidently.

Armenia’s manipulations around the case of the two captured Azerbaijanis happen at a time when the international community redoubled its efforts to advance the normalization process between Armenia and Azerbaijan. As a matter of fact, the mentioned so-called decision on the imprisonment of the Azerbaijani servicemen was declared just few days after four-day negotiations hosted in Washington and on the eve of the expected highest-level meetings arranged by the European Union and other regional partners. This discloses that Armenia is not genuinely interested in advancing the peace agenda and its ultimate objective is to stall the peace process, atrophy an already-fragile stable environment and undermine efforts for post-conflict reconciliation.

Armenia’s fabricated trial process against the captured Azerbaijani soldiers is a grave violation of international humanitarian law and human rights law under different international instruments, in particular, the right to liberty and prohibition of arbitrary detention, the right to be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, under other human rights treaties, as well as customary international law. This is also a clear representation of state-driven and state-sponsored hate, racism and racial discrimination by Armenia against Azerbaijanis based on ethnic and national identity, being in stark contravention to Armenia’s obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination," it reads.

In light of the facts indicated above, Jeyhun Bayramov requested UN Secretary General to strongly condemn Armenia’s violation of humanitarian and human rights law with respect to the captured Azerbaijani soldiers, take all necessary measures to persuade Armenia to honour its relevant obligations, and immediately and unconditionally release both Azerbaijani servicemen in line with applicable norms of international humanitarian law, fully respecting their dignity and life.

The letter is available on the following UN website: