By Luciana Minassian and Uzay Bulut
To Zara Amatuni,
ICRC Yerevan, Armenia
Dear Madam Amatuni,
We are writing on behalf of the family of the Armenian citizen, Vicken Euljeckjian, who live in Beirut, Lebanon. Over three weeks ago, Vicken’s family was informed about the possibility that he would be among the 32 POWs (prisoners of war) to be freed by Azerbaijan government in exchange for two Azerbaijani citizens detained in Armenia.
Vicken Euljeckjian is from Lebanon with dual Armenian and Lebanese citizenship. He was illegally kidnapped from Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) by Azeri soldiers and has been jailed in Azerbaijan since his capture in November 2020. He is stated as a civilian in the Armenian registers — along with the first two other civilians captured by Azerbaijan at the same period: humanitarian aid workers Gevorg Sujyan and Davit Davtyan. All three were subjected to sham, illegal trials in Baku.
Vicken was captured in Sushi (Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh), together with Maral Najarian (who was later released) the day after the 2020 ceasefire agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia. They were both charged as “illegal mercenaries” from Lebanon.
Vicken was tried before the Baku Military Court: The presiding judge was Elbay Allahverdiyev – under articles 114.3, 214.2.1, 214.2.3, 228.2.1,279.1 and 381.2 of the Azerbaijani Criminal Code. Vicken was sentenced to 20 years in a Baku detention facility.
The Euljeckjian family prepared for Vicken’s arrival with great joy and expectations ever since his name appeared on a list of candidates scheduled to be released which was shared on social media. The family was devastated when on December 13, 32 prisoners were released, including 26 from the Shirak region, but Vicken was swapped at the last minute for another prisoner.
Observers have determined that the last-minute swap might be due to Vicken’s failing health conditions and grave mental and emotional duress. Not to mention that he has been living under unbearable prison conditions. We are asking for your assistance in finding the necessary means to confirm Vicken’s health and well-being.
We are aware that the official list of Armenian POWs is about 55, including the Armenian political prisoners arrested in October 2023 at the Azerbaijani checkpoint.
We are also aware that, according to statements by Armenia’s human rights ombudsman, Siranush Sahakian, there might be at least 80 additional POWs currently being illegally held in Baku’s notorious prisons.
Unfortunately, we cannot provide specific names of the additional POWs, which would include combatants and civilians who disappeared during the September 2022 skirmishes with Azerbaijan and during the fuel tank explosion in Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh.
We request your kind intervention to urgently obtain information, on behalf of Vicken’s family, about the whereabouts of Vicken Euljeckjian and his health so to bring peace of mind and hope to his family.
With gratitude and warmest wishes,
Vicken Euljeckjian’s family
Signatories to this letter:
The Coalition of 120,000 Reasons
Christian Solidarity International
Global ARM, USA
Anglican Office for Government and International Affairs
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA)
In Defense of Christians (IDC)
The Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC)
The Iraqi Christian Relief Council (ICRC)
Please sign the petition: “Support Linda Euljeckjian’s plea. Her husband, Vicken, has been unjustly detained in Baku.”
*About the authors: Luciana Minassian is a human rights lawyer based in Argentina. Uzay Bulut is a Turkish journalist formerly based in Ankara.