Following years of violations of ceasefire and intimidation against Armenian civilians, Azeri military forces used massive force in September 2020 to invade and occupy two-thirds of Nagorno-Karabakh. In September 2023, Azeri military forces took over the remaining territory, contradicting previously agreed-to negotiations and statements (OSCE peace negotiations, trilateral statements 2020,2021).

As a result, there was a mass exodus of hundreds of thousands of Armenians from the capital city (Stepanakert), during which the Azeri government arrested eight former members of the Republic’s government and advocates for the self-determination of Artsakh. Those detained include Ruben Vardanyan, an Armenian businessman and philanthropist who served as the State Minister of the Artsakh government.

Mr. Vardanyan and the seven others join over 23 Armenians arrested during the conflict, some of whom have been held for years by Azerbaijan. The negligible information on the health and well-being of these prisoners is deeply concerning.