Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman) of the Republic of Azerbaijan Sabina Aliyeva has commented on claims of the Human Rights Watch on bad treatment with Armenian hostages in its report dated March 19, 2021, Ombudsman Apparatus told APA.
The commentary reads:
"We regret to note that the recent report of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) alleging the ill-treatment towards Armenian POWs detained in Azerbaijan reflects a biased approach and confuses the international community.
Any report on such sensitive topics as conflicts, their consequences, POWs, alleged violations of International Humanitarian Law, etc., should be based only on checked facts and substantiated arguments in order to follow the objectivity principle and avoid a one-sided stance. The materials and facts provided by reliable sources such as independent international and domestic human rights organizations should be referred to as well. Unfortunately, we do not see these principles in the HRW report. On the contrary, we again witness double standards in this respect and distortion of the truth and undeniable facts.
We expect HRW to examine and interview the former Azerbaijani POWs who may provide eye-witnessed detailed information about the ill-treatment towards them as well as the other POWs with whom they were captured or shared cells in the Armenian custody. At least, HRW could get acquainted with the report of the Azerbaijani Ombudsman on treatment towards the Azerbaijani POWs and hostages in the custody of Armenia before issuing their own report.
The Azerbaijani Ombudsman’s report reflects former Azerbaijani POWs’ and hostages’ testimonies on how they were treated during their captivity. For example during their interviewing personally by the Ombudsman, one said that he was prodded with a sharp metal rod, and the other one stated he was subjected to electric shocks, and one was repeatedly burned with a cigarette lighter.
During the face-to-face meeting with the Ombudsman, one of those released captives, a military servant, said that he was severely wounded in his left leg and right eye (a bullet entered a lower part of his eye and exit the oral cavity) as a result of a fire from a large-caliber weapon during the hostilities. That night, due to bleeding in the vein, the Armenian doctor put stitches on the palate for about 3 hours without using painkillers and anesthetics. In addition, in hospital, nurses injected him with an alcohol syringe and demanded that he repeat what they had said, but when he did not do so, he continued to be subjected to further torture and other ill-treatment.
During the captivity, they were not given any opportunity to communicate with their family members and relatives.
The above mentioned are just some of the cases that we want to bring to the attention of HRW. More detailed information can be found in the last report of the Azerbaijani Ombudsman on ill-treatment towards the Azerbaijani POWs in captivity of Armenia. The links of videos, which show undeniable facts of torture and ill-treatment towards the Azerbaijani POWs by the Armenian soldiers, are also reflected in the report.
International humanitarian law requires parties to an armed conflict to treat POWs humanely in all circumstances. We need to note that HRW should take an impartial stance when calling the parties to the Third Geneva Convention, to meet the requirements of this Convention.
This also should be noted that all Armenian POWs have been repatriated to Armenia by Azerbaijan with displaying full observance of the Joint Statement dated November 10, 2020.
During both the first and second Karabakh Wars, there was a clear indifference to the true voice of our country, to the repeated calls about the war crimes committed by the Armenian armed forces against the civilian population of Azerbaijan. This totally fails to be fair turning a blind eye to the crimes committed by the political and military leadership of Armenia keeping internationally recognized territories of Azerbaijan under occupation for almost 30 years, displacing one million people, targeting the civilians during the hostilities by banned munitions, refusing to disclose the map of landmines planted in the areas which were under the occupation and torturing the Azerbaijani POWs during their captivity.
The report of the Ombudsman on ill-treatment towards the Azerbaijani POWs also reflects the case of three Azerbaijani civilians who were taken hostage by Armenia. One of them - Hasan Hasanov was subjected to torture and brutally killed. The other two, Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev, were subjected to different physical abuses during 6 years period about which many times the Ombudsman raised issues before relevant international organizations. After their release, the Ombudsman interviewed them one by one and the detailed information about their testimonies takes place in the report.
Unlike the Armenian side, the Azerbaijani Ombudsman has visited the Armenian POWs before they were repatriated and examined their detention conditions. They were provided with telephone communication with their families and relatives. The Ombudsman gave them European Convention on Human Rights in their native language and explained their rights. The comprehensive information about it can be found in the Azerbaijani Ombudsman’s mentioned report and the official website.
In conclusion, we consider that Human Rights Watch should take an impartial stance and carry out an objective investigation. We call on Human Rights Watch and other relevant organizations to avoid issuing any partial reports or statements, which may trigger hatred and cause further human rights violations."