April 30, 2022 - 15:12 AMT
Azerbaijan continues to illegally hold Armenian PoWs hostage – Mirzoyan

Azerbaijan continues to illegally hold Armenian prisoners of war and civilians hostage, Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan said after a meeting with his Georgian counterpart Ilia Darchiashvili in Yerevan Saturday, April 30.

In a statement for the press, Mirzoyan he offered a comprehensive breakdown of the situation around the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and Armenia's position on the processes aimed at establishing regional peace and stability, and on the negotiations on a comprehensive peace agreement with Azerbaijan.

"In this context, I underlined the mediating role of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship in advancing the peace process aimed at the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," Mirzoyan said.

"I should mention that humanitarian issues remain unresolved. In violation of international humanitarian law and the provisions of the November 9 Trilateral Statement, Azerbaijan continues to illegally hold Armenian prisoners of war and civilians hostage."

The Armenian foreign policy chief also raised the desecration and destruction of the Armenian cultural and religious heritage by Azerbaijan in the territories under their control.

"The latest such example is the desecration of the St. Harutyun Church in Hadrut. For the prevention of these recurring cases of vandalism, currently the visit of the UNESCO assessment mission to the region is urgent as before," he added.

Azerbaijan has defiled an Armenian church in the Nagorno-Karabakh town of Hadrut by dismantling the cross from the dome and erasing all Armenian inscriptions, Karabakh Records reports.

On April 27, pro-government news outlets in Azerbaijan published a series of articles about alleged Easter celebrations in Hadrut, also posting fresh photos of the Church of the Holy Resurrection in the city, which came under Azerbaijan's control during the Second Karabakh war.

Analysis of the fresh photos showed that the cross has been removed from the dome. In addition, the Azerbaijanis have removed plate at the entrance to the church, which contained information about the most recent renovation of the building.

Concerns about the preservation of cultural sites in Nagorno-Karabakh are made all the more urgent by the Azerbaijani government’s history of systemically destroying indigenous Armenian heritage—acts of both warfare and historical revisionism. The Azerbaijani government has secretly destroyed a striking number of cultural and religious artifacts in the late 20th century. Within Nakhichevan alone, a historically Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani forces destroyed at least 89 medieval churches, 5,840 khachkars (Armenian cross stones) and 22,000 historical tombstones between 1997 and 2006.