No more prisoners? Azerbaijan, Armenia claim 'all for all' prisoner exchange completed
14 Azerbaijani and 44 Armenian captives have returned to their homes on December 14 as a result of an exchange on the principle of “all for all”, agreed upon by the authorities of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Among them are not only people who were captured during the second Karabakh war (September 27 – November 10, 2020), but also those who were taken captive before.
The armed conflict in the Karabakh zone between the Azerbaijani and Armenian forces lasted 44 days, from September 27. On November 10, the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Russia and the Prime Minister of Armenia signed an agreement to end hostilities. The agreement provides for the return to Azerbaijan of control over several regions adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh; bringing Russian peacekeepers into the region; exchange of prisoners and return of refugees.
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In Armenia, the now former prisoners were met by the Deputy Prime Minister of Armenia Tigran Avinyan and the President of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Arayik Harutyunyan.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced the upcoming exchange in video messages on his Facebook page. However, he did not say that they would return in the evening of the same day, and for many in Armenia it was a surprise.
A complete list of prisoners has appeared on social media, according to which there are 30 military personnel and 14 civilians among them.
The Ombudsman of Nagorno-Karabakh Artak Beglaryan, however, did not agree that all the Armenian prisoners were delivered. According to him, at the beginning of December, the Azerbaijani side was holding 60 prisoners of war and 40 civilians.
“Everyone needs to be returned home, and if they are not alive, then we need to find out what happened to them,” Beglaryan says.
Half of the returnees are those about whom complaints have been submitted to the European Court of Human Rights, said human rights activist, former Minister of Justice of Armenia Artak Zeynalyan.
He also said that he would work to return to Armenia “other Armenian citizens held in Azerbaijan.”
Whom did Azerbaijan transfer before
Earlier, the office of Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan reported that Azerbaijan had handed over three prisoners to Armenia, as well as the body of an elderly man, an ethnic Armenian. According to human rights activist Artak Beglaryan, “this person died in Azerbaijani captivity under unclear circumstances.”
Among the 14 now former prisoners brought to Azerbaijan on December 14 were Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev, who were captured back in 2014.
Until October 2020, Asgarov and Guliyev were kept in the prison in the city of Shusha. But during the second Karabakh war they were transported to Armenia.
The remaining 12 people in the group are military, who were captured during the 44-day war in the fall of 2020.
The prisoners of war and hostages were brought to Azerbaijan, accompanied by the personally commander of the Russian peacekeeping forces in Karabakh, Rustam Muradov.
It is not reported whether other Azerbaijani prisoners of war remained with the Armenian forces.
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