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Man Charged Is Descendant of 1915 Genocide
05/06/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) learned that on May 5, 2021, Azerbaijan approved an indictment against Armenian-Lebanese Vicken Euljekjian, a civilian prisoner of war captured when Azerbaijan invaded Nagorno-Karabakh and seized new territory. Euljekjian is facing three charges: participation as a mercenary in a military conflict, committing terrorism, and illegally crossing into Azerbaijan. These charges are falsely leveled against Euljekjian. They are part of Azerbaijan and Turkey’s joint attempt to justify their genocidal actions in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Azerbaijan invaded Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2020 with the support of Turkish-backed Syrian mercenaries. The brutality of the invasion demonstrated an intent of ethnic-religious cleansing towards Karabakh’s Armenian Christian community, whose presence in the region predates the Islamic Turkic presence. The human rights abuses committed against local Armenian civilians were reminiscent of the 1915 Armenian Genocide, which the US formally recognized for the second time in history on April 24.
Euljekjian is a descendant of the 1915 genocide and had just moved to Shushi before the invasion. However, the city was captured by Azerbaijan and he spent most of the war as a displaced person. After the November Ceasefire Agreement, Euljekjian returned to Shushi to collect his belongings, and at a checkpoint, Euljekjian and his companion were arrested. Meral was released after four months of captivity and deported to Lebanon.
Meral told reporters that they thought the road was open. “During the search, no weapons and or sharp objects were found in his car. How could he be a terrorist if he is not carrying anything? Vicken’s only crime was that he wanted to collect his personal belongings from Shushi.”
Just days before Azerbaijan approved Euljekjian’s indictment, his daughter Christine released a video. “Today is my 18th birthday. It is my first time my father is not with me. We have been particularly close to each other. I have always been daddy’s girl. All I want is that my father returns home safe and sound, that is my only wish.”
Euljekjian is one of at least 200 Armenian POWs who have yet to be returned, despite Azerbaijan’s violation of the November Ceasefire Agreement. The brutality they are subjected to was further confirmed when lawyers representing Armenian POWs at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) announced this week that Azerbaijan had tortured and killed 19 prisoners of war, 12 of whom are civilians.
Turkey has maintained a supporting role of Azerbaijan following the invasion, providing logistical, infrastructure, military, and other types of support. Azerbaijan has reciprocated by providing Turkey media support following the 1915 genocide recognition from the U.S.
Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “We are very concerned for the welfare of Vicken Euljekjian, even more so given the context of this week’s news regarding the fate of other POWs held by Azerbaijan. Vicken is a civilian who tried to collect his personal belongings, and for that Azerbaijan has trumped up a false narrative. We urge the authorities to release him, and to allow him contact with his family. The injustice of his detention and the false narrative that is built around his case unfortunately highlights one of the many difficulties which continue following the invasion.”
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