PACE Calls Out Azerbaijan for Ignoring POW Release Resolution

By Asbarez | Thursday, 24 June 2021

The problem of political prisoners in Azerbaijan, as identified and described in a January 2020 resolution of the Assembly, “has been neither duly recognized nor adequately addressed by the Baku authorities, let alone resolved, according to a follow-up report of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe released on Wednesday.

The follow-up report, prepared by Thorhildur Sunna Ævarsdóttir of Iceland and endorsed by the Assembly’s legal affairs committee at a meeting Wednesday, said most provisions of the resolution “have not been implemented” by the authorities.

“The only exceptions are the inexcusably late quashing of the convictions of Mr Ilgar Mammadov and Mr Rasul Jafarov […] and the late submission of partial information to the Committee of Ministers in the context of its supervision of relevant judgments of the European Court of Human Rights,” the report said.

In a separate statement, the Legal Affairs Committee endorsed the report and expressed “particular disappointment” at the failure of the Azerbaijani delegation to the Assembly to co-operate with the rapporteur in the exercise of her mandate, as well as the continuing failure of the Azerbaijani authorities to implement fully the relevant, binding judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.

A day before the conclusion was publicized, a representative of Armenia at the parliamentary body called on PACE to suspend Azerbaijan’s delegation, calling on the Council of Europe to “take concrete actions, rather than to make statements which do not lead to any consequences.”

Lawmaker Naira Zohrabyan, representing the Prosperous Armenia Party in Armenia’s parliament, called on the Council of Europe to suspend the Azerbaijani delegation’s powers and freeze European bank accounts of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, his family and that country’s political elite. She stated that the solution of the Armenian POW issue is possible only by imposing tough sanctions against Baku.

“Especially today when hatred and intolerance have become a serious issue in Europe and politicians have a great responsibility to keep away politics from populism, lie, manipulations and tools unacceptable in the fight against political opponents, our today’s discussion is more than relevant. Yes, the politician must have a mandate to freely exercise his right to speech, which, however, can’t avoid red lines,” said Zohrabyan.

“When the President of Azerbaijan is calling Armenians liars and says that for 30 years Artsakh has been in the hands of monsters, wild animals, when announces that he will expel Armenians from Artsakh like dogs, when mannequins of Armenian servicemen are displayed at the Baku trophy park, I am more than convinced that racism ad Armenophobia cannot be considered as freedom of speech and must be prevented,” explained Zohrabyan, adding that if the European organization does not apply sanctions on Azerbaijan, there is a great fear that many Armenian mothers will no longer hug their sons.

“I ask you again: why don’t you suspend the Azerbaijani delegation’s right to vote? Why don’t you urge international organizations to freeze the European bank accounts of Aliyev’s family and his clan? I have talked to the boys [the Armenian POWs] who were repatriated two weeks ago. They saw hell in the Baku prison. And I will urge, on a daily basis, for applying concrete sanctions against Azerbaijan, as this country could become the last graveyard of Europe and the European values,” emphasized Zohrabyan.

The Armenian lawmaker also took part in a PACE discussion on media freedom and citizen’s right to get accurate information.

Zohrabyan focused her presentation on on the manipulations of public opinion by fake news, bringing Azerbaijan as an example where the media was in the forefront of spreading hatred and hostility against Armenia.

“In our information world, media in many cases are much more than the most powerful weapon,” Zohrabyan said. “And in our European family there is a country, even the most cursory monitoring of its media field is terrible. When the leader of that country speaks about the causes of their victory in the recent Artsakh war and states that they won because they managed to educate generations who grew up with hatred and hostility against Armenians, he is right, and the Azerbaijani media had a great contribution to this because they spread and continue spreading Armenophobia, violence, hatred and falsification.”

“When an Azerbaijani politician announces that Armenians must be killed in Karabakh, and it is being spread by the Azerbaijani media… When a 13-year-old Azerbaijani girl announces that she wants to become a sniper in order to kill an Armenian, and this becomes the top lead of that country’s media, we have the terrible picture which we had during the recent bloody war and after that – atrocities, lie, fake news and media manipulations,” said Zohrabyan.

These days the trial of Armenia soldiers is underway in Azerbaijan, whom Azerbaijan presents as terrorists and saboteurs, and the entire Azerbaijani media is filled with spreading disinformation, and now what accurate information and protecting society form fake news are we talking about?” pondered Zohrabyan.

“Today, under the free media flows, if we do not manage to protect our societies from fake news, which especially in totalitarian countries feeds societies with racism, intolerance and lie, we will have Azerbaijan as a result, where the media field is daily filled with videos torturing and humiliating the Armenian prisoners of war and the public opinion which welcomes all these” adde the Armenian lawmaker.