Families of Armenian prisoners of war demand their release, return home
In Armenia, relatives of the prisoners of war who are still being kept in Azerbaijan following the end of the second Karabakh war, have blocked all entrances and exits of the administration building of the Shirak region.
All 62 soldiers who were captured by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces in Karabakh in December 2020, after the signing of a trilateral peace agreement, are residents of Shirak.
The ombudsman of Armenia Arman Tatoyan has already met with the families of the prisoners of war, but they demand a meeting with the prime minister and the minister of defense.
The issue of returning Armenian prisoners of war to their homeland became even more aggravated last week when the Armenian authorities announced that another plane with a group of war prisoners was on its way from Baku to Yerevan. However, the plane turned out to be empty and the prisoners did not return.
The next day, relatives of the prisoners of war blocked several highways in the Shirak region for 13 hours and demanded the prisoners of war to be returned to Armenia immediately.
The last exchange of prisoners between Armenia and Azerbaijan took place on February 9, 2021. Back then, five Armenian prisoners of war returned to their homeland. In total, after the end of the second Karabakh war, 63 prisoners, including civilians, returned to Armenia, and 15 residents of Azerbaijan were returned back to their country.
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Situation in Shirak region
The parents of the prisoners of war, who blocked the entrances to the administration building, said they would not stop protesting until the prime minister or defense minister met with them.
Moreover, the protesters said that they will no longer go to Yerevan and will stay in Shirak and wait for the government representatives to arrive at Gyumri. Their main requirement is to give get specific, or at least approximate time frame, for when their children will be able to return back home from Azerbaijan.
Meeting with the Ombudsman
In the morning, the Ombudsman of Armenia Arman Tatoyan met with the families of the prisoners of war.
The Office of the Human Rights Defender of Armenia reported that during the meeting the issues of protecting the rights of both prisoners of war and their families were discussed.
In addition, Tatoyan presented the steps that his office is taking to return the prisoners of war.