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Ruben Vardanyan On Hunger Strike in Baku, Demands Release of All Armenian Detainees

The family of former Artsakh State Minister Ruben Vardanyan, now detained in a Baku jail, announced today that he went on hunger strike on April 5 to demand the immediate and unconditional release of himself and the other Armenian prisoners illegally held in Baku.  

His family, in a statement, says they haven't been able to speak to Vardanyan by telephone since then.  

Azerbaijan’s State Security Service (SSS) detained Vardanyan last September as he attempted to travel from Karabakh to Armenia via the Lachin Corridor. He was later taken to Baku.

Azerbaijan has accused former Artsakh State Minister Ruben Vardanyan of “financing terrorism”, “creating and participating in illegal armed organizations”, and “illegally crossing the Azerbaijani state border”.

Vardanyan and seven other former Artsakh Military and political officials are now detained in Azerbaijan on a number of charges. Vardanyan's family says they are all political prisoners.

“I am deeply concerned about the health and well-being of my father,” says David, one of Mr. Vardanyan’s sons.  “For nearly 200 days, my family has not seen my father.  We have had absolutely no contact with him since he launched his hunger strike on April 5.”

Vardanyan's family says his case has been separated from the other seven officials, raising questions whether he is being specifically targeted.  

The family demands the following:

  1. All  illegally detained Armenian prisoners, including Ruben Vardanyan should be released immediately and unconditionally.  
  2.  Should the illegal trials proceed, they must occur before the prisoners’ detention orders expire in May, must meet global legal standards, and international observers and media must be allowed to attend.
  3. The Azeribaijani government must allow immediate International Red Cross access to assess the wellbeing of Ruben and the other prisoners. The family’s access to telephone calls with Mr. Vardanyan must be restored. 
  4.  Any peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan must include the release of all ethnic Armenian  prisoners.
  5. COP 29 should not proceed in Azerbaijan without these steps occurring.  

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