Scandalous statements of Armenian MP spark protests from parents of Armenian prisoners held in Azerbaijan
Parents of prisoners and missing servicemen who are still being held in Azerbaijan after the second Karabakh war are protesting again. Previously they were gathered at the building of the Armenian government demanding the return of their relatives but now they also demand an answer regarding the scandalous statements of the speaker of the parliament Alen Simonyan. In a secretly filmed video that circulated on social media, Simonyan said that “for him, these prisoners no longer exist”, these are the military who “threw down their weapons, fled and got lost, as a result of which they were captured”.
Parents of prisoners are outraged that, without trial and investigation, the speaker declared their sons deserters and criminals.
Residents of Armenia are monitoring the situation and actively discussing it on social media since the unresolved issue of the return of prisoners is painfully perceived by the whole society.
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The protest of the relatives of the prisoners of war resumed immediately when the video with the scandalous statements of Alena Simonyan appeared on social media. On the evening of December 7, they tried to block the streets intersecting with the main square of Yerevan, where the government building is located. They spent the night in front of the parliament building, and in the morning the protest continued there.
The protesters blocked Baghramyan Avenue, where the main entrance to the parliament building is located, as well as Demirchyan Street, where another entrance is. The police have already detained ten protesters.
The demand of the protesters: either the speaker meets 20 of them, or he must go out and talk with all the protesters. Parents of prisoners believe that the speaker should apologize and clarify his statement.
They want to understand whether this is the personal opinion of Alain Simonyan or he expressed the opinion of the authorities as a whole.
Earlier, the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan also said that all prisoners should not be declared heroes and the circumstances of their capture should be investigated.
During the protest, the parents have repeatedly said that they agree that after the return of the prisoners an investigation should be carried out, and if the fact of desertion is proved, the perpetrators must be tried.
At the same time, they share what they know about their loved ones and the circumstances in which they find themselves. The protesters are sure that the speaker’s statements are unfair to them and, of course, they still insist on the urgent return of their children from Azerbaijan.
The speaker has not yet met with the protesters.
But on December 7, he already expressed indignation at the fact that people who introduced themselves as comrades-in-arms and like-minded people asked him to answer questions and filmed this conversation, although he asked them not to record it. In addition, he stated that the recording has been edited and his statements were taken out of context.
Political observer Hakob Badalyan commented on the situation, assessing the disseminated video as “a blow to the chairman of the National Assembly or the government in general” and “a blow to the Republic of Armenia as a whole”. The expert asks a rhetorical question of whether the distribution of this video is accidental in parallel with the attempt to put pressure on Armenia, which is now being undertaken by Azerbaijan.
“At the same time, this in no way justifies the“ talkativeness ”of the NA Speaker. Let this assessment not seem harsh, as it is quite mild. […] The Speaker of the Parliament should be very attentive to where he speaks, on what topic and what words he uses”, Hakob Badalyan said.
As for the meaning of Alena Simonyan’s statements, the expert believes that “state policy and state interests cannot be hostages of the prisoner issue”. In his opinion, their problems will not be resolved in this way; instead, new problems will appear for the country’s authorities pursuing state policy.
He admits that “the return of prisoners is an undeniable priority for us, but “not at the expense of security, as painful as it sounds”.