Schiff introduces resolution urging Azerbaijan to release all prisoners of war
Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) introduced a resolution calling on Azerbaijan to immediately release all prisoners of war (POWs) and civilians currently detained in the years-long attack on Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh. In September 2020, Azerbaijan launched a military assault on Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), resulting in thousands killed, tens of thousands displaced, and the detention of an estimated 200 ethnic Armenian POWs, hostages, and others by Azerbaijan. In a ceasefire statement dated November 9, 2020, all parties agreed to the “exchange of prisoners of war, hostages and other detained persons.” Three years later, Azerbaijan still has not released all POWs and instead continues to imprison ever more POWs, hostages, and other detained persons. This includes taking additional POWs and hostages during Azerbaijan’s unprovoked, large-scale military attack on Artsakh in September 2023, after systemically starving the people of Artsakh with a 10-month-long blockade. “Azerbaijan is already guilty of grave atrocities committed during the recent war, and the continued illegal detention of Armenians compounds the problem. Azerbaijan’s treatment of these prisoners, including torture and killings, are heartbreaking and a direct threat to international law and order,” said Rep. Schiff. “My resolution urges the American government and international community to stand up to these gross human rights violations being perpetuated against the Armenian community by the Aliyev regime and return these prisoners back to their families.” “Azerbaijan must immediately release all illegally held Artsakh officials, prisoners of war, and other detainees, not in barter - as part of Baku's cruel commodification of human suffering - but rather in compliance with its own obligations under international law,” said ANCA in Washington, Executive Director, Aram Hamparian. “We thank Congressman Schiff and his colleagues for introducing this measure and look forward to working on a bipartisan basis to see this measure adopted on an urgent basis by the full House of Representatives.” “In the face of Azerbaijan's ongoing disregard for human rights and international laws, the Armenian National Committee of America Western Region stands firmly behind Representative Adam Schiff's resolution. We call upon the international community to unite in support of justice and the immediate release of all prisoners of war and captured civilians. It is time for Azerbaijan to honor its commitments and end the suffering inflicted upon innocent individuals,” said the Armenian National Committee of America Western Region Chair, Nora Hovsepian. Azerbaijan continues to detain at least 55 POWs today, though the true number is unknown and likely much higher, as many are still missing and Azerbaijan provides limited reliable information on the condition and treatment of POWs and captured civilians in its custody. There is widespread credible reporting on the cruel and degrading treatment, torture, extrajudicial killing, and other violations committed against Armenian POWs and detainees in Azerbaijani custody, including from the State Department, Human Rights Watch, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and others.