Armenia and Azerbaijan Exchange Civilians with ICRC Mediation

By Ani Paitjan

Armenia and Azerbaijan exchanged two citizens in an operation carried out with the support of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), on June 28.  Armenian citizen Zaven Karapetyan had been found and captured in Azerbaijan on June 20, 2017, upon arriving in the country under unclear circumstances. Azerbaijani citizen Elvin Arif Oglu Ibrahimov had crossed into Armenia on March 16, 2019.

The handover took place on the international border on a road between the Armenian town of Ijevan and the Azerbaijani town of Gazakh,.

Based on its mandate under the Geneva Conventions, the ICRC has been carrying out humanitarian work in the region related to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict since 1992.

Zara Amatuni, spokesperson of the ICRC Delegation to Armenia, told CivilNet that the ICRC had been facilitating communication between the arrested individuals and their families. 

“After the arrests of the repatriated individuals, the ICRC representatives followed their detention and health condition, helped them to get in touch with family members as well as did everything within their power prior to the repatriation, in accordance with the organization’s mandate,” Amatuni said.

At present, two other Armenian citizens are being held as captives in Azerbaijan. One is from Karabakh, Arsen Baghdasaryan, and the other from Armenia, Karen Ghazaryan. Amatuni said that representatives of the Red Cross also visit these captives and get information on health and detention conditions.

Read More: The Three Armenian Captives in Azerbaijan Must Be Saved

Currently two Azerbaijani citizens, Dilham Askerov and Shahbaz Guliyev, are serving prison sentences in Nagorno-Karabakh. They have been charged with the murders of Smbat Tsakanyan, a 17-year-old resident of Karabakh, and Sargis Abrahamyan, an Armenian army officer. Askerov was sentenced to life in prison and Guliyev was sentenced  22 years in prison.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been in an unresolved conflict over Karabakh, following a war that took place from 1988 to 1994.

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