Azeri border guards threatened to use force against ICRC staff, reveals daughter of kidnapped man
YEREVAN, JULY 31, ARMENPRESS. The family of the elderly man who was kidnapped by Azerbaijani border guards on Saturday while being evacuated by the International Committee of the Red Cross said they’ve been unable to contact him.
A 68-year-old medical evacuee from Nagorno-Karabakh, Vagif Khachatryan, was kidnapped by Azerbaijani border guards while being transported to Armenia for treatment by the ICRC. The Armenian foreign ministry said the Azerbaijani actions amount to a war crime.
Khachatryan’s daughter Vera, along with many other demonstrators, gathered outside the UN Office in Yerevan asking the organization to intervene and bring back her father.
Vera Khachatryan is from Kashatagh. She’s lost her home in the 2020 war and has been living in Jermuk ever since as a refugee.
“I am all alone here, on the other side of Hakari Bridge. My sisters, brothers, my mother and all other relatives are in Artsakh. Please, dear countrymen, don’t leave me alone. This pain isn’t only mine, Vagif Khachatryan is the personification of the entire Armenian nation," she said.
Khachatryan said that her father was being evacuated to Armenia for an urgent heart surgery.
“My sister was accompanying him. Everyone’s passports are checked at the Hakari Bridge checkpoint. When they took my father’s passport, they didn’t return it and told him to go inside to the doctor’s room for examination. Then they told him he had to go to another place for ten minutes. When my sister asked them not to take him, when one of the ICRC representatives tried to intervene so that my father isn’t taken away and instead is questioned on spot, they threatened to use force. And that’s how my dad was taken away to an unknown location. My father has been factually kidnapped,” Vera Khachatryan said.
The family of the kidnapped man have been unable to contact him ever since.
The ICRC called Vera’s sister on the first day to notify her that they’ve visited Vagif Khachatryan and that he was in a Baku hospital.
Vera Khachatryan said the Azeri authorities have been making fake accusations against her father. “Most recently they’ve been saying that my father was once the driver of Samvel Babayan. This is fake news. Everything that’s been said by the Azerbaijani leadership and prosecution is false,” she said.
She called on the UN to provide any help or get information.
“This organization has levers all across the world, doesn’t it? I am asking not only the UN, I am asking everyone to bring back my father. Let everyone use their levers. Let them return him like the way they handed him over to the Azerbaijanis. My father is no criminal, he has led a dignified life, no one has the right to call him a criminal,” Vera Khachatryan said.