PACE session to focus on Azeri-captured Armenian soldier issue

PACE session to focus on Azeri-captured Armenian soldier issue

PanARMENIAN.Net - A member of the Armenian delegation to PACE, Prosperous Armenia faction MP Naira Zohrabyan issued a request to the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights to assist in the return of the Azeri-captured serviceman Hakob Injighulyan to Armenia or his transfer to a third country.

As Zohrabyan announced on March 19, the Commissioner received the message issued on March 5 and will be ready to provide answers at the April 7 PACE session, according to Panorama.am.

As the MP reminded, at the March 15 meeting of the PACE Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons, she suggested entrusting the CoE Commissioner for Human Rights with greater powers, to enable him to deal with the problem of POWs and captives in Azerbaijan. As she noted, she'll raise the issue at the April 7 session.

At the Paris-hosted meeting, Zohrabyan welcomed the Committee's attention to the problem of missing persons and captives in military conflicts. “We have no right to fully delegate the issue to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) without any involvement on our part,” the Armenian MP said.

"I have no intention question the ICRC’s activities. Yet, the ICRC actions are not always effective enough with Azerbaijan to blame for the fact," she said.

Zohrabyan reminded the Committee about Mamikon Khojoyan, 77, who lost his way and was taken captive by Azerbaijan. She went on to cite the physical and psychological pressure the elderly man was subjected to.

"Khojoyan was returned to Armenia with numerous signs of abuse, including a gunshot wound and fractures, with doctors struggling for his health," she said, dwelling on other Armenians in Azeri captivity.

Zohrabyan also referred to the Armenian shepherd Manvel Saribekyan, who was tortured to death in Azerbaijan, with his body handed over to his parents.

On the night of Aug 8, 2013 Armenian serviceman Injighulyan, born in 1991, failed to find his bearings on the ground and crossed into the Azeri-controlled territory.

Azeri media outlets have since been spreading information suggesting the captive is unwilling to return to Armenia.

In mid-October, media was circulating reports suggesting the Armenian captive was to be moved to a third country from Azerbaijan. The information, however, hadn’t been confirmed at the Yerevan Office of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Injighulyan never mentioned his unwillingness to return to Armenia in a meeting with ICRC representatives, with Azerbaijani Prisoners of War Commission Secretary noting he sees no problem with the captive's return. Nor did he express intention to leave for a third country, reports said.

Armenia has repeatedly slammed the “interviews” with Injighulyan as forced by Baku and urged the ICRC to take every effort to help the captive’s return, with no persecution to be initiated against him in the absence of crime in the act.

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