Thanks to the Latvian intellectuals for supporting the Armenians in the return of prisoners of war
As the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs refrains from taking active steps on the issue of releasing more than 200 Armenians from captivity in Azerbaijan, 53 representatives of the Latvian intellectuals signed such a letter of support for Armenians.
"We, the cultural workers and representatives of the intellectuals of the Republic of Latvia, reaffirming the importance of universal humanitarian values and joining the initiative of Lithuanian colleagues, call on the Azerbaijani authorities not to obstruct the immediate transfer of prisoners of war and other detainees to the Republic of Armenia; and to facilitate the faster exchange of remains of those who died in the last Karabakh war. According to our information, Armenia has already handed over all prisoners of war to Azerbaijan. We are convinced that the unconditional and immediate return of prisoners of war to their homes is one of the first necessary steps in restoring mutual trust in relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan. We call on the entire international community to join this humanitarian initiative in helping to overcome the humanitarian catastrophe in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) caused by the recent hostilities."
The letter of support was signed by 53 representatives of the intellectuals, including poet, publicist Viktors Avotiņš, president of the Book Sellers Association, director of Jānis Roze, recipient of the Cross of Recognition Ināra Beļinkaja, actress, director, Mikhail Chekhov Riga Russian Theater director Dana Bjorka, writer, book publisher Inguna Cepīte, artist, curator of educational programs of the Latvian National Museum of Art Diāna Dimza-Dimme, professor of the University of Latvia Ina Druviete, set designer, teacher Andris Freibergs, Theater #8 screenwriter, playwright, director, teacher Lauris Gundars, doctor of arts, recipient of the Order of the Three Stars Rafi Haradjan, opera and theater director, director of the New Riga Theater Alvis Hermanis, writer, cultural worker, recipient of the Order of the Three Stars Nora Ikstena, journalist Ilze Jaunalksne-Rēdere, film, opera and theater director Viesturs Kairišs, actress, director Rēzija Kalniņa, actor, writer, Andris Kalnozols, A. Karapetian himself and many other eminent cultural, artistic, and scientific figures.
A.Karapetian has publicly stated that "this letter is not political, it is about the two countries establishing normal relations, and to achieve this, steps must be taken". He emphasized that there were many Armenian prisoners on the Azerbaijani side, as well as the remains of those who had not been returned to their relatives for proper burial. "Many relatives, mothers whose children disappeared, hope that they have gotten lost and are among the prisoners. It must be understood that when two small countries are in conflict, the big powers always decide in their place what will happen. There would be no war without the involvement of Russia or Turkey. That's why Armenians around the world tried to attract international attention to stop it. The main thing is for people to stop killing each other! That is the most important thing,” said A. Karapetian publicly.
Prior to the letters of support from the Latvian and Lithuanian intellectuals, a call for the release of Armenian prisoners of war was issued by the Armenian National Committee of America in early March. It welcomed the initiative of the US Congressional Armenian Caucus to push a draft resolution in Congress calling on Azerbaijan to immediately release more than 200 Armenian prisoners of war and civilians held captive following the November 9, 2020 ceasefire agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The latest document signed by the US House of Representatives Congressmen Adam Schiff, Gus Bilirakis, Jackie Speier, David Valadao and Frank Pallone mentions intolerance towards the Armenians in captivity in Azerbaijan.
The Latvian Armenian Cultural Center has been operating in Latvia since 2008. It unites Armenians living in Latvia and supporters of Armenian culture.
A. Karapetian (Հայկ Կարապետյան) is known in Latvia as a film director. His short film Double Life won 2nd place at the Bavarian Television International Film University Festival in 2007. In 2017, L'Étrange premiered his film Firstborn in Paris. A. Karapetian has produced operas The Barber of Seville and Faust at the Latvian National Opera, has staged William Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice at the Latvian National Theater.