Four years have passed since the day, when Azerbaijanis Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev were taken hostage by the Armenian armed forces during their visit to the graves of their ancestors in the Kalbajar district of Azerbaijan. At that time, Hasan Hasanov, another Azerbaijani was brutally killed by the occupants.
“The last time I received a letter from my father was on November 1, 2017, through the International Committee of the Red Cross. Since November last year, I have not been able to get a letter or video recordings from my father. Despite this, we maintain a regular contact with the ICRC staff, and they always give us same information that they met with him, how his health state is and tell us about the detention conditions,” Dilgam Asgarov’s son Kurdoghlu Asgarov said.
Dilgam Asgarov’s son constantly attends the international events and demands justice and support from the world community regarding the release of innocent Azerbaijani hostages. Kurdoghlu Asgarov says that he is proud of his father.
“Although my father had been in the Armenian captivity for 4 years, they still could not break him morally. As you know, he was repeatedly called by his lawyer to ask for forgiveness. However, my father did not agree with any of them. This is a great pride for me. They could not succeed in getting negative comments against Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani state from my father throughout these 4 years,” Kurdoghlu Asgarov added.
After being taken hostage by the Armenians in 2014, Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev were judged illegally by the unrecognized courts of the separatist regime in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh. Following an expedited “judicial process” in December 2015, Asgarov was sentenced to life imprisonment and Guliyev to 22 years in prison. Hasanov’s body was returned to Azerbaijan due to effective negotiations conducted by the State Commission on Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing Persons with the relevant structures. The Azerbaijani human rights defenders have been working for the release of the hostages for four years. Alovsat Aghalarov, the Chairman of the Committee in Protection of Rights of Shahbaz Guliyev and Dilgam Asgarov says that no matter how hard the Armenians tried and tortured, they were unable to urge them to call Nagorno-Karabakh the Armenian land.
“Armenians have appealed to Dilgam and Shahbaz hundreds of times. They have been put under pressure. They were beaten to death in order to speak out against Azerbaijan and tell that Nagorno-Karabakh is the Armenian territory. But they refused all their offers,” he added.
The Azerbaijani state makes every effort for the release of Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev. President Ilham Aliyev raises the issue of the immediate release of hostages on every platform. In addition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the State Commission of the Republic of Azerbaijan on Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing Persons have been consistently working on this issue. The European Court of Human Rights launched a lawsuit over Azerbaijani hostages’ appeal, facts about the tortures were presented to the court. However, no positive outcomes have been achieved so far.
“Contrary to all the norms and principles of international law and the UN Charter, Armenia keeps Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions under occupation. More than a million Azerbaijanis, including Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev, members of their families, were expelled from their native lands as a result of ethnic cleansing. Craving for their native places, which lasted for more than 20 years, prompted them to make a selfless step-to visit the occupied lands, and from this perspective, their desire to see their native homes and the graves of their parents is quite understandable. We urge the international community to effectively influence and exert pressure on Armenia for the immediate release of our compatriots,” Azerbaijani MFA spokesperson Hikmat Hajiyev said.
The Foreign Ministry spokesperson went on adding that the Republic of Azerbaijan will continue to take all necessary measures for the release of Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev.