BAKU

Recently released from captivity for more than six years, the two Azerbaijanis are still haunted by torture they experienced in Armenia prisons.

On Nov.14, Azerbaijan and Armenia started an exchange of prisoners and hostages under a Russia-brokered agreement on Nov. 10 to end decades of fighting.

Azerbaijani prisoners and hostages were brought to the capital Baku, with Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev among those released.

In 2014, Asgarov and Guliyev along with Hasan Hasanov traveled to the Kalbajar region, which was under the Armenian occupation at that time, to see their village where they were born and grew up and visit the graves of their relatives.

After they were spotted by Armenian soldiers, Hasanov was killed and Asgarov and Guliyev were taken hostage.

Hasanov’s corpse was returned to Azerbaijan after three months while Asgarov was sentenced to life in prison and Guliyev to 22 years behind bars.

Asgarov and Guliyev cannot forget the murder of their friend Hasanov and the torture they experienced in prison, although they are now free.

Recalling torture she experienced in prison, Asgarov said: “We were allowed to take some air only for half an hour during the day. I was locked in a solitary confinement cell.”

“However, I never lost hope. I always said both in court and in prison that Azerbaijani soldiers will come one day. Because I knew that President Ilham Aliyev did not accept Karabakh’s occupation,” she said.

Asgarov said that the Armenians wanted to make her speak against Azerbaijan on a video recording.

“They didn’t give me food for a year in prison. I was 107 kilograms [235 pounds] when I was taken hostage. I lost 52 kg [114 Ibs] in one year. They also gave me electricity for torture,” she added.

Asgarov also claimed that Armenia also used PKK terrorists in the war.

Guliyev said they were unjustly imprisoned for going to their own land.

Saying that they were subjected to various tortures during their captivity, she said: ” It was not life. It was not living.”

Relations between the former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory, and seven adjacent regions.

When new clashes erupted on Sept. 27, the Armenian army launched attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces and violated several humanitarian cease-fire agreements.

During the 44-day conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages from the nearly three-decade-long occupation.

Despite the Nov. 10 deal ending the conflict, the Armenian army several times violated the agreement and martyred several Azerbaijani soldiers and a civilian, according to the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry.

The truce is seen as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia, whose armed forces have been withdrawing in line with the agreement.

*Writing by Seda Sevencan

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