top of page

Petition: Free Ruben Vardanyan and the Armenian Prisoners

Ruben Vardanyan, philanthropist, humanitarian, and former State Minister of Nagorno-Karabakh has been arrested by the Azerbaijani government and is being illegally detained with other notable Armenians. It’s time for Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to release these Armenians immediately.

After implementing an illegal nine month-long blockade of fuel, medicine and food, on September 19th, Azerbaijan launched a bloody military offensive invading the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, resulting in hundreds of civilian deaths and thousands of military casualties. This invasion led to the forced displacement of virtually all of the 120,000 ethnic Armenians from the region. This is indisputably ethnic cleansing; much of the world agrees.¹ Human rights groups have labeled the Azeri actions as a genocide.²

As he sought to leave for Armenia, Ruben Vardanyan, leading Armenian philanthropist, humanitarian, and former State Minister, was illegally detained. His arrest is particularly concerning as his high-profile international support of Nagorno-Karabakh has made him a target of the Baku government. Ruben is among the latest residents of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh arbitrarily arrested for political reasons and illegally detained. Others include three former presidents of the Republic, Arayik Harutyunyan, Bako Sahakyan, Arkadi Ghukasyan, and other former officials, David Babayan, Levon Mnatsakanyan, David Ishkanyan, and Davit Manukyan. Many other Armenians continue to be illegally imprisoned. The negligible information on the health and well-being of these individuals is deeply concerning.

These individuals are being detained in clear violation of domestic and international law, including UN and European human rights conventions to which Azerbaijan is a party. The conditions of their detention are deeply concerning, including inadequate communications with their families, an absence of regular independent monitoring or consular access, and the denial of access to local and international lawyers. Azerbaijan must respect international legal standards and human rights on which peace and stability depend.

Every day matters for the lives of these prisoners. Any peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan must include their release.

We call on President Ilham Aliyev to release all these illegally detained individuals immediately.

¹The European Parliament’s resolution of 5 October 2023 states that “the ongoing forced exodus of the local Armenian population…amounts to ethnic cleansing. Former U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues David Scheffer of the Council on Foreign Relations states that the ethnic Armenian population of the Nagorno-Karabakh is “experiencing ethnic cleansing at warp speed.”

²Genocide Watch, The Lemkin Institute, The Save Karabakh Coalition, former ICC Prosecutor Ocampo, and Armenian organizations warned that genocide has been underway in Nagorno-Karabakh since 2022.



Featured Review
Tag Cloud
bottom of page