The following is an unedited press release from International Christian Concern (ICC). Links in the press release are to ICC web pages. Also, please check out their website at www.persecution.org for more on the persecution and genocide of Christians around the world.
Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Urge United States Government to Lead in Gaining Freedom for an Estimated 200 Armenian POWs
03/16/2020 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) –International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that the five co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives calling for the United States to lead in gaining the freedom of Armenian prisoners of war (POWs) still held by Azerbaijani forces, despite the end of hostilities from the fall between the two sides in Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian: Artsakh). The co-chairs, U.S. Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), David G. Valadao (R-CA), and Jackie Speier (D-CA), are part of the bipartisan group of 31 members on the caucus cosponsoring the resolution.
Although the agreement signed by Azerbaijan after the war and international law both require that Azerbaijan is to release any POWs it still detains, reports indicate that as many as 200 Armenian soldiers and civilians are still in Azerbaijani custody. In response, the resolution urges the Biden administration to “engage at all levels with Azerbaijani authorities…to make clear the importance of adhering to their obligations…[and] to immediately release all prisoners of war and captured civilians.”
In a statement released by Rep. Schiff’s office on the resolution, the congressman strongly condemned Azerbaijan’s actions. “It is unacceptable that more than 100 days after the end of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, hundreds of Armenian service members and civilians remain in Azerbaijani custody, where little is known of their condition, treatment, or well-being,” said Rep. Schiff. “Azerbaijan is already guilty grave atrocities committed during the recent war, and this compounds the problem.”
ICC has been concerned about the status of Armenian POWs, and recommended that the United States support efforts to ensure their freedom in its recent report entitled, The Anatomy of Genocide: Karabakh’s Forty-Four Day War. ICC has worked to bolster this resolution by continually reporting on the status of POWs and conducting outreach to Congressional offices on the issue.
ICC will also be hosting an event tomorrow on the recent conflict in Artsakh and the persisting problems facing Armenian Christians, including ongoing plight of POWs. The event will take place at 10am EST and will be open to the public. If you would like to attend this event, click here to RSVP.
In response to the resolution, ICC’s Director of Advocacy, Matias Perttula, said, “We welcome the introduction of this important resolution by Rep. Schiff. Azerbaijan’s continued detention of Armenian POWs – both combatants and noncombatants – is not only a grave abuse of human rights and international law, but also illustrates the broader religious and ethnic implications of the recent conflict. We hope the rest of Congress and the Biden administration follow the lead of these members of Congress in showing Turkey and Azerbaijan that the United States will not stand for these atrocities.”