By Sivan Gamliel
A few days ago, along the Armenian border with the Nachshivan Regional Council, two Azerbaijani soldiers, Babirov Aghshin Gabil and Akhundov Huseyn Ahliman, went missing due to poor weather conditions. Afterwards, it was discovered via various video and photo documentations that they were captured by Armenia, who tortured them by tying up their hands, beating them and insulting them.
These actions were condemned by prominent members of the Azerbaijani Diaspora, who noted: “According to the Third Geneva Convention related to the treatment of Prisoners of War, persons who do not take an active part in hostilities must be treated humanely at all times and prisoners of war shall always be protected against acts of violence and intimidation. So, this fact is another evidence of Armenia’s breach of its obligations under the Geneva Conventions, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading treatment and other important covenants.”
They added: “The relevant international organizations should investigate and properly evaluate the said violence, including the violence committed by Armenia against Azerbaijani prisoners of war and civilian prisoners and the 3,890 missing Azerbaijanis over the past 30 years. As Azerbaijanis living abroad, we once again strongly condemn this crime and urge the international community to give a legal assessment for the actions of the Armenian government and ensure the immediate and unconditional release of the Azerbaijani servicemen.”
Rachel Avraham, the CEO of the Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy, stated in response: “I would like to condemn the capture of the Azerbaijani soldiers, whose only crime was getting lost due to bad weather conditions in the area and Armenia’s cruelty in torturing them. This is a very shocking incident which should be condemned by the international community, especially the United States, the European Union and the United Nations. All of the countries in the world should condemn this action by the state of Armenia. It is a violation of international law. You are not supposed to treat prisoners of war like this, let alone people whose only crime was getting lost due to bad weather conditions.”
According to her, “This goes to show how much Armenia is not a normal country because this is not how an ally of the West behaves. The United States would never do something like this, even to the soldier of an enemy country. What they did is not in accordance with American or European values, yet the US Congress and French Parliament have one too many members that support the Armenians. The time has come to change this. The time has come for the world to wake up and smell the coffee, and see Armenia for what it really is.”
Immediately after this incident, the Armenian organizers of the European Weightlifting Competition in Yerevan were found to have seized the Azerbaijani flag and set it ablaze, after the masses booed the Azerbaijani athletes upon arrival. This occurred after the Armenian government had ensured the European Weightlifting Federation that they would ensure the security of the Azerbaijani athletes throughout their stay in Armenia and prepare for all kinds of security incidents. As a result of this incident, the Azerbaijani athletes were forced to forfeit their participation in the European Weightlifting Competition.
Saadat Sukurova Israelov, the head of Kanal 24, said following these incidents, “No matter how generous the president and people of Azerbaijan are to Armenia, the Armenians are adamant about behaving violently towards Azerbaijan. I believe the Azerbaijani athletes did the right thing about going home, as they faced a danger to their lives and the Armenians behaved brutally to the flag of Azerbaijan. As a citizen of Israel, I stand beside Azerbaijan, the side of justice. The international community must stand in solidarity with Azerbaijan.”
Avraham concurred with Israelov: “When I first saw the images of the burning of the Azerbaijani flag at the European Weightlifting Competition, what came to my mind is images of Iranians burning the American and Israeli flag during the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and of Palestinians burning the Israeli flag in the Gaza Strip. Somebody who burns is a flag is someone full of hatred. This should be widely condemned and Yerevan should never again host any kind of sporting competition, as this is not how a civilized country would behave. It was a mistake for the Europeans to let a proxy of the Islamic Republic of Iran to host this. They help Iran bypass the sanctions and are a major impediment for peace in the Caucuses. It is very critical that the West stop supporting this proxy of Iran. The time has come for the West to view Armenia like they view the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah, who are also proxies of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
The Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy also issued an official statement, proclaiming that they would “like to condemn Armenia for torturing Azerbaijani soldiers in their custody and burning the Azerbaijani flag at the European Weightlifting Competition. Both actions highlight how much Armenia systematically violates international law. The time has come for the West to realize that Armenia is a proxy of the Islamic Republic of Iran and is not an ally of America or Europe.”