Karen in captivity
- 1 Residents of Azerbaijani villages: Karen Petrosyan had no weapons on him, he just came in and asked for tea
- 2 Armenian Captive Dies In Azerbaijan
- 3 Witness Accounts Contradict Baku’s Claims On Armenian Captive
- 4 U.S. ‘Deeply Concerned’ By Armenian Captive’s Death
- 5 France Also Deplores Armenian Captive’s Death In Azerbaijan
Residents of Azerbaijani villages: Karen Petrosyan had no weapons on him, he just came in and asked for tea
Armenian 31-year-old Chinari village resident of Tavush region Karen Petrosyan who was killed on 8 August in Azerbaijan appeared in the Azerbaijani Agbulag village, at the door of the house of the local resident Royale Ismahan oglu Guliyev at 1 pm, on August 7 and asked for tea. Later on, he was disguised into military uniforms and declared as diversionist.
The video reportage of “Azer life” portal Guliyev says that his mother was the first who saw the Armenian who had lost his way. The lost asked for tea, and cigarettes from Guliyev. Guliyev’s mother tells how she found Karen Petrosyan in their yard: "I came up to the door, I saw as I watched, a man sitting. Then I asked "Who are you?" And he says "tea, tea ..." Then I told my son that an Armenian is sitting in front of our door. Then the neighbors came and began to question him. We then gave him tea, and then the militants came." It is noteworthy that in the video-footage it is visible how the locals get into brawl with the militants, who had come to get the Armenian hostage.
According to the video footage of the Azerbaijani service of "Radio Liberty" by Fariz Tagiyeva, the woman who discovered the lost Armenian tells how the locals were questioning him, and why he was afraid, and he replied that he had nothing with him, no weapons, and his name was Karen.
Tagiyeva took the Armenian citizen to the local tea-house in Agbulag village where young people surrounded Karen and began questioning. "I greeted him, turned him all over, searched him, and checked his sneakers, he had no arms with him," the local resident Niyamat Mammadov says and stresses that Karen was not armed and made no resistance.
The young man added that Karen had an ordinary phone in his hands. The questioning ended when the militants entered the village.
The locals also do not believe in the official version issued by the Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan which says that Karen Petrosyan was a diversionist. As Fariz Tagiyeva tells the posts of the Armenian armed forces are located far away from the village, which does not even have the status of "frontier village". "The Armenians have no posts here how could he come here from the Army positions?" wonders the local resident.
On August 8, the Azerbaijani media, reported, referring to the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry, about the death of 31-year-old resident of Chinari village of Tavush region Karen Petrosyan who was found in Azerbaijan. He allegedly died in Baku from "heart failure." It was noted that "the causes of death are being investigated in Ganja regional center of forensic and pathological anatomy."
Earlier, the Armenian media reported that Karen Petrosyan was a resident of Chinari village of Tavush region of Armenia. He had left on 7 August for the nearby forest to gather firewood. Apparently, Karen Petrosyan had got lost and had found himself in the territory of Azerbaijan. This is confirmed by the primary statements of the Azerbaijani media.
It should be noted that Karen Petrosyan, resident of Chinari village of Tavush region of Armenia, was presented in Azerbaijan as a diversionist and spy. They had even circulated in the media materials on questioning of the citizen of the Republic of Armenia. The footage also clearly demonstrates that he was subjected to severe tortures. He gives only positive answers to the orders of the Azerbaijani militants. Video footage also makes it obvious that Karen Petrosyan is accused of allegedly being a serviceman. They present photographs allegedly taken from his cell phone. Meanwhile, the provided high quality images taken from the old modeled mobile phone and the absence of the faces in the photos suggest that these pictures are not taken from this mobile phone, and are most likely loaded there later, after the capture of Karen Petrosyan. There is every reason to believe that Karen Petrosyan died that night as a result of tortures by the Azerbaijani militants. It is also noteworthy that, according to information he died in Baku, while the autopsy is carried out in Ganja (the distance between these two cities is 372 km).
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Armenian Captive Dies In Azerbaijan
A resident of an Armenian border village arrested by Azerbaijani security forces was reported dead on Friday one day after crossing into Azerbaijan in disputed circumstances.
The Defense Ministry in Baku said Karen Petrosian “suddenly” died in the morning. A ministry statement cited by Azerbaijani news agencies claimed that “acute heart and lung failure” is the likely cause of his death. It said that forensic doctors in the western Azerbaijani city of Gyanja are now conducting an autopsy on the young man’s body.
Armenia’s government and military were quick to to reject this theory and say that Petrosian was tortured to death. In a statement, a government commission dealing with Armenian prisoners of war, hostages and missing persons said that Petrosian never suffered from heart disease. It demanded an international forensic examination of his body.
“We didn’t expect anything different from the Azerbaijani propaganda machine,” said Artsrun Hovannisian, the Armenian Defense Ministry spokesman.
Officials in Yerevan and Chinari , a village in the northeastern Tavush province where Petrosian lived, insisted on Thursday that he crossed the Armenian-Azerbaijani border by accident.
Initial news reports from Baku said that Petrosian was detained by villagers in Azerbaijan’s Tovuz district bordering Tavush and handed over to military authorities. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry claimed afterwards, however, that he is a member of an Armenian commando squad that tried unsuccessfully to conduct a cross-border sabotage attack. It said Azerbaijani troops captured him after killing four other Armenian soldiers. The Armenian military laughed off that claim.
Images released by the Azerbaijani authorities late on Thursday showed two masked men in army fatigues posing for a photograph with Petrosian. The latter wore army boots and a camouflage vest in that photo. Earlier pictures of the Armenian villagers, which were apparently taken by Azerbaijani civilians, showed him wearing sneakers and no pieces of military uniform.
Azerbaijani TV channels also broadcast video of Petrosian being taken to military headquarters in the town of Shamkir and interrogated there by an Azerbaijani general. “What do you all want from Azerbaijan?” the general asked the terrified man after accusing him of being an Armenian soldier sent to Azerbaijan for sabotage purposes.
“Please, take me back to Armenia, to my home,” pleaded Petrosian.
Petrosian’s death will rekindle memories of Manvel Saribekian, a 20-year-old resident of another Armenian border village who was captured by Azerbaijani soldiers in September 2010. A visibly injured Saribekian was paraded on Azerbaijani television, saying that he is a member of an Armenian commando squad that planned to carry out terrorist attacks in Azerbaijan.
Saribekian was found hanged in an Azerbaijani detention center shortly afterwards. The Azerbaijani authorities claimed that he committed suicide. The Armenian government said, however, that Saribekian was tortured to death or driven to suicide. Both the government and Saribekian’s family insisted that the young man was a civilian who accidentally crossed the Armenian-Azerbaijani border while grazing cattle.
Two residents of another Tavush village, Verin Karmiraghbyur, were detained on the Azerbaijani side of the frontier in separate incidents in January and March. They were freed after spending more than one month in captivity.
One of those villagers, the 77-year-old Mamikon Khojoyan, died in May after undergoing medical treatment in a Yerevan hospital. Doctors there said he suffered serious injuries in Azerbaijani custody.
Witness Accounts Contradict Baku’s Claims On Armenian Captive
Tatevik Lazarian եւ Irina Hovhannisyan
An Armenian man who died in Azerbaijani custody on Friday was alone and not armed when he crossed into Azerbaijan the day before, according to residents of a border village who first spotted him.
The Azerbaijani villagers interviewed by RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani service (Azadliq.org) contradicted the Azerbaijani authorities’ allegations that Karen Petrosian, a resident of Chinari village in northeastern Armenia, was a member of an Armenian commando squad that tried to conduct a cross-border sabotage attack.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said on Thursday that its troops captured Petrosian after killing four other Armenian soldiers, a claim laughed off by the Armenian military. The 31-year-old was pronounced dead in Azerbaijani custody the following day, ostensibly because of “acute heart failure.” The Armenian government believes that he was tortured to death.
Petrosian was detained in Agbulaq, a village in Azerbaijan’s western Tovuz district located several kilometers from Chinari. Farida Tagiyeva, a local woman, claimed to have spotted him the first.
“I was washing dishes and suddenly I heard someone call me,” Tagiyeva told RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani service. “I asked, ‘What are you doing here?’ He said, ‘Tea, tea, tea.’ Then I told my son that there is an Armenian here, and my little son started asking him, ‘Why are you scaring my mother? What are you doing here?’ And he said, ‘I have no weapons, don’t worry.’”
Tagiyeva then escorted Petrosian to the center of the village where he was searched by one young man. “As soon as he came I shook his hand,” Niyamaddin Mammadov, said. “Then I twisted his arm behind his back and checked his pockets for weapons or a knife. I didn’t find anything.
“He took off his sneakers to show that he didn’t have any weapons on his body. And he didn’t put up any resistance.”
“He had a cheap mobile phone in his pocket,” Mammadov went on. “There were some photos of people in uniform. We asked him if that is him. He said no, it’s his brother … Then we called the military, and they came and took him away.” Azerbaijan - A screenshot of an amateur video of Armenian citizen Karen Petrosian talking to residents of Aqbulaq village.Azerbaijan - A screenshot of an amateur video of Armenian citizen Karen Petrosian talking to residents of Aqbulaq village.
A short amateur footage apparently shot by one of the villagers shows Petrosian sitting in Agbulaq’s teahouse and talking to curious locals. Some of them can be heard asking him questions in Russian.
Another online video suggests that Azerbaijani military officials scuffled with more than a dozen Agbulaq men while arresting the Armenian.
As a correspondent for RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani service explained, the locals demanded that TV journalists from Baku interview them and certify that Petrosian was caught by them, rather than the military. Some of them complained that the village is not protected against Armenian army posts overlooking it.
Petrosian wore army boots and a camouflage vest in the official video of his interrogation later in the day by an Azerbaijani army general, Rovshan Akperov. The latter accused the terrified man, forced to his knees by masked officers, of being an Armenian soldier sent to Azerbaijan for sabotage purposes.
President Serzh Sarkisian protested against Petrosian’s death to his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev when they met in Sochi on Sunday. “I told the Azerbaijani president in the Russian president’s presence that killing such people is shameful,” Sarkisian told the Armnews TV channel. “He said, ‘We didn’t kill him.’ I said, ‘Why would that 31-year-old guy, who as far I know was under the influence of alcohol, cross into your territory and die? He said, ‘Well, he may have died because of being scared.’”
Sarkisian went on to warn residents of Armenian villagers close to the Azerbaijani border to exercise more caution. “The residents of our border settlements need to realize that they are dealing with an incensed and savage enemy,” he said.
Manvel Saribekian, a 20-year-old resident of another Armenian border village, was found hanged in an Azerbaijani detention center in 2010 shortly after accidentally crossing into Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani authorities claimed that he committed suicide. The Armenian government insisted, however, that Saribekian was tortured to death or driven to suicide.
Another Armenian villager, the 77-year-old Mamikon Khojoyan, was detained on the Azerbaijani side of the frontier in similar circumstances in January. Khojoyan was freed in March but died two months later, after undergoing medical treatment in a Yerevan hospital. Doctors there said he suffered serious injuries in Azerbaijani custody.
Meanwhile, an Armenian government commission dealing with prisoners of war and civilian captives said on Monday that it has asked the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to help repatriate Petrosian’s body. The commission chairman, Armen Kaprielian, said the body will undergo forensic tests before being buried in Armenia. Kaprielian insisted that the Chinari villager had “some mental problems” but never suffered from heart disease.
U.S. ‘Deeply Concerned’ By Armenian Captive’s Death
Hovannes Movsisian եւ Hovannes Shoghikian
“The United States is deeply concerned by reports on the death of Karen Petrosian while in Azerbaijan’s custody and by allegations that his death was not due to natural causes,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement issued in response an Armenian Public Television inquiry.
“The United States offers its sincere condolences to Mr. Petrosian’s family,” said the statement. “We call on the Government of Azerbaijan to conduct a full and transparent investigation into this incident and to make its findings public.
“We remind the governments of Azerbaijan and Armenia of their obligations under international humanitarian law, especially their obligation to treat humanely all those taken into custody. We call on both Armenia and Azerbaijan to grant the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) access to all detainees and internees held for conflict-related reasons.”
Petrosian, who lived in a village in northeastern Armenia close to the Azerbaijani border, crossed the frontier in still unclear circumstances. He was pronounced dead the following day. The Azerbaijani military claimed that Petrosian died of “acute heart failure.” It accused him of being part of an Armenian “sabotage group” that tried to infiltrate Azerbaijan.
The Armenian authorities dismissed those claims, saying that Petrosian was a civilian murdered or tortured to death by his Azerbaijani interrogators.
Residents of Chinari village, where Petrosian lived with his parents, likewise insisted at the weekend that the 33-year-old was not a soldier. Samvel Saghoyan, the village mayor, again suggested that he accidentally crossed the Armenian-Azerbaijani border while collecting firewood in a local forest.
“They savagely tortured him to death,” said another villager. “He was a healthy boy.”
Petrosian’s parents refused to be interviewed by RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “I visit them every day,” said Saghoyan. “They still can’t believe he is dead.”
France Also Deplores Armenian Captive’s Death In Azerbaijan
France has joined the United States in deploring the suspicious death of an Armenian man in Azerbaijani custody and urging Azerbaijan to investigate its cause.
Baku angrily rejected the U.S. and French criticism on Friday, accusing Washington and Paris of siding with Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
"France was shocked to learn about the death on August 8 of the Armenian national Karen Petrosian, who was detained in Azerbaijan,” a French Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a statement cited by Armenews.com late on Thursday. “It offers its condolences to the family of Mr. Petrosian.”
“We call on the Azerbaijani authorities to expedite the repatriation of his body and shed light on the circumstances of the death,” added the short statement.
The U.S. State Department likewise said last week that it is “deeply concerned” by Petrosian’s death, which was announced the day after he wandered into Azerbaijan in still unclear circumstances. A department spokesman called on the Azerbaijani government to “conduct a full and transparent investigation into this incident and to make its findings public.”
The Azerbaijani military claimed that Petrosian, who lived in an Armenian village close to the Azerbaijani border, died of “acute heart failure.” It accused him of being part of an Armenian “sabotage group” that tried to infiltrate Azerbaijan. The Armenian authorities dismissed those claims, saying that Petrosian was a civilian murdered or tortured to death by his Azerbaijani interrogators.
Baku’s allegations also contradict accounts from residents of an Azerbaijani border village, who were apparently the first to spot the 33-year-old Armenian.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry insisted on those allegations as it responded to the embarrassing U.S. and French criticism. “The methodical exaggeration of the case of Karen Petrosian and attempts to politicize it are aimed at covering up atrocities committed by Armenia,” the ministry charged in a statement.
The authorities in Yerevan are now trying to have Petrosian’s body repatriated through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Azerbaijan’s Deputy Prime Minister Ali Hasanov said on Friday that Baku is ready to hand over the corpse in a complex swap that would also involve the five members of an Armenian family that fled to Azerbaijan several years ago and three Azerbaijanis who infiltrated the Armenian-controlled Kelbajar district west of Nagorno-Karabakh in July. According to Hasanov, the Armenian side has rejected this proposal communicated through the Red Cross.
The Armenian Defense Ministry dismissed Hasanov’s statement reported by Azerbaijani news agencies. “This is ugly disinformation. We are not in a marketplace,” Artsrun Hovannisian, the ministry spokesman, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Authorities in Karabakh say that the three Azerbaijanis killed two Armenians, including a 17-year-old man, and seriously wounded another during what they call a sabotage mission in Kelbajar. One of the Azerbaijanis, identified as Hasan Hasanov, was killed in a reported shootout with Armenian military personnel, while the two others were separately caught and arrested. The Karabakh government has made clear that they will not be treated as prisoners of war and will stand trial on murder and terrorism charges instead.
The Azerbaijani government has repeatedly demanded the release of the two middle-aged men, Shahbaz Guliyev and Dilgam Askerov, saying that they had the legal right to visit the area. The Foreign Ministry in Baku accused the U.S. and France on Friday of being indifferent to their “inhuman treatment.”