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The Scottish Peace Network and Dove Tales join Libertas by sponsoring A. Sukiasyan and A. Mikaelyan

By Alexis Krikorian of Hyestart

We are thrilled to announce that the Scottish Peace Network and Dove Tales, two Scottish NGOs promoting peace, have decided to sponsor two Armenian POWs, and Andranik Mikaelyan and Andranik Sukiasyan.

Jean Rafferty, chair of Dove Tales, declared: “We're appalled at the use of individual Armenians as bargaining chips and want to help in raising awareness of Azerbaijan's unacceptable actions in Nagorno Karabakh. We're sick of seeing dictatorial governments act with impunity - and of corrupt Western governments putting profit before people. If Azerbaijan were not such an important oil and gas producer we think more action would be taken to condemn the Azeri government”.

Background Information about the Libertas campaign and why it was launched:

In late September 2020, Azerbaijan started the second large-scale war in Nagorno-Karabakh, after 26 years of frozen conflict. Following this 44-day war, a tripartite ceasefire declaration was signed on 10 November 2020, between the Azeri and Russian presidents and the Armenian prime minister, in preparation for a subsequent peace agreement.

The cease-fire declaration provided for the exchange of all prisoners of war between Azerbaijan on the one hand, and Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh on the other. By the beginning of 2021, all Azeri POWs were returned by the Armenian sides. The process of return of detained Armenian POWs and civilians was done in several waves in 2021, but Azerbaijan deliberately stopped it prematurely.

According to information from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Baku is still holding 33 confirmed prisoners of war, whom it accuses of terrorism and has unduly sentenced to sentences ranging from 4 to 20 years in prison, in violation of the ceasefire declaration and the Geneva Convention III of 12 August 1949 relative to the treatment of prisoners of war. In addition to these 33 prisoners of war, evidence indicates the existence of at least 80 other captured persons (videos of their capture, testimonies of freed ex POWs ...) of whom we have no more news. Azerbaijan denies their existence. The fate of these "forcibly disappeared" remains uncertain, as the ICRC has no information about them and cannot visit them.

Several NGOs (Human Rights Watch), institutions (European Parliament, Council of Europe) and European courts (ECHR) have confirmed that Azerbaijan, one of the worst countries in the world in terms of universal rights and freedoms, continues to torture and subject prisoners of war to inhuman and degrading treatment.

In June 2021, during a trip to Nagorno-Karabakh in the company of Turkish President Erdogan and his wife, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev openly admitted the he was "still holding many Armenian prisoners of war" in order to use them for blackmail against Armenia and demand concessions not provided for in the tripartite agreement of November 2020. This policy of Azerbaijan is also part of what the European Parliament rightly described in a resolution of 10 March 2022 as a "state policy of systematic Armenophobia, historical revisionism and hatred towards Armenians promoted by the Azerbaijani authorities". For example, the Parliament of Azerbaijan adopted a declaration in March 2023 calling the Armenian diaspora a "cancerous tumor of Europe".

This is why in the spring of 2023 the LIBERTAS collective made up of Hyestart, the Covcas centre for law and conflict resolution and l’Obersvatoire d’arménophobie, launched a homonymous campaign with the aim of securing the release of these Armenian prisoners of war through their sponsorship by cities, regions, NGOs and personalities. In essence, sponsoring a prisoner of war means protecting them from cruel or degrading treatment, and demanding their repatriation as soon as possible.

In April 2023, the mayor of Lyon (France, Green Party) became the first mayor to publicly sponsor a prisoner of war, Grigor Saghatelyan. The town of Bourg-les-Valence (France) also sponsored an Armenian POW, Ludwig Mkrtchyan. Several other municipalities have accepted to sponsor an Armenian POW. Updates will soon be announced.

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This letter is addressed to the UK Government and intended for use by all UK and European citizens who share common security concerns to lobby their representatives for renewed diplomatic efforts and


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