Artsakh Students, Kidnapped by Azerbaijan, Released into Armenian Custody

By Asbarez | Friday, 08 September 2023

Azerbaijan has released three Artsakh students its forces abducted and detained on August 28 after they spent 10 days in custody.

Artsakh’s Human Rights Defender Gegham Stepanyan said in a social media post that at 5:45 p.m. on Thursday Azerbaijan returned Alen Sargsyan, Vahe Hovsepyan and Levon Grigoryan “who were abducted and illegally deprived of their freedom, while being transported from Artsakh to Armenia accompanied by the Russian peacekeeping contingent.”

Stepanyan explained that Russian peacekeepers participated in the return of the three students near the Hakari Bridge. They have been transported to Armenia, he said.

The Human Rights Defender said his office will be assessing the details of the three students’ abduction and their treatment “during their arbitrary and illegal imprisonment by Azerbaijan and the state of their health.”

“The abduction and arbitrary imprisonment of civilians, in particular Vagif Khachatryan, Rashid Beglaryan, Alen Sargsyan, Vahe Hovsepyan and Levon Grigoryan, as well as Azerbaijan’s launch of false and fabricated criminal cases indicate that the illegal Azerbaijani checkpoint located at the Hakari Bridge is a direct and irrefutable threat to the physical existence and protection of the fundamental rights of the civilian population of Artsakh,” Stepanyan said in his post.

“The so-called ‘checkpoint’ has turned into a tool for servicing Azerbaijani criminal arbitrariness, through which civilians are being arbitrarily abducted and deprived of their freedom by Azerbaijanis, while 120,000 people are held under the blockade, deprived of humanitarian access and the possibility of protection of their fundamental human rights,” Stepanyan added

The Azerbaijani media have reported the release of the three Nagorno-Karabakh students who were kidnapped by Azeri border guards while traveling to Armenia through Lachin Corridor in late August.

Armenia’s National Security Service on Thursday confirmed that Azerbaijan has released the three students.

At the time, Azerbaijan said that Sargsyan, one of the detained students, was wanted in Baku for allegedly disrespecting the Azerbaijani flag in 2021.