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Red Cross Seeks Access To Armenian POW In Azerbaijan


Armenia -- The Ministry of Defense building in Yerevan.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Tuesday that its representatives in Baku are trying to visit an Armenian army officer who was captured by Azerbaijani troops over the weekend.

The Azerbaijani military claims that the junior officer, Gurgen Alaverdian, was taken prisoner during a failed Armenian commando raid on one of its frontline positions north of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Armenian Defense Ministry strongly denies this, saying that Alaverdian simply lost his way due to poor weather. Its spokeswoman, Shushan Stepanian, said the ministry has launched an internal inquiry to ascertain all circumstances of his disappearance.

“Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross are now engaged in a dialogue on this issue with relevant authorities in Armenia and Azerbaijan,” Zara Amatuni, the spokeswoman for the ICRC office in Yerevan, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.

“Usually, the Red Cross’s role in such situations is to receive permission to immediately visit [detained] individuals in order to be able to verify, through periodical visits, their treatment and detention conditions and to help them keep in touch with their families,” she said.

The ICRC hopes to be allowed to visit Alaverdian in custody “as soon possible,” added Amatuni.

Azerbaijan’s government-controlled online media released, meanwhile, a video of Azerbaijani servicemen insulting and humiliating the captured Armenian officer. Armenia’s human rights ombudsman, Arman Tatoyan, condemned it as a manifestation of ethnically motivated hatred and violation of international conventions.

“We have taken note of these troubling facts,” said Tatoyan. “With appropriate analyses I have appealed to … relevant international bodies, human rights commissioners, the Red Cross and others to bring the matter to their attention and to show the blatant violation of human rights.”

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