Kidnapped Armenian woman held captive by Azerbaijan finally released

Maral Najarian

After spending four grueling months in captivity in Azerbaijan, civilian war hostage Maral Najarian has safely arrived in Lebanon.

According to Najarian’s nephew Hovig Seferian, the 49 year-old Lebanese Armenian, who was released from a high-security prison near Baku on Wednesday, was finally reunited with her family at the Beirut-Hariri International Airport at around 9:30 p.m. local time. Seferian spoke with his aunt during a jubilant video call as soon as she landed.

Hovig Seferian pictured during a video call with his aunt Maral Najarian

“We have all waited for so long to get this news, and I still can’t believe it,” he told the Weekly. “I wish I could see her right now in person, but I have to wait because I’m in Armenia. I’m just so excited that I got to talk to her on the video call and that she is home safe,” he said. Seferian said his aunt looked exhausted, but relieved to be home. “I missed you,” she told her nephew. “Thank God we survived this ordeal,” she continued in Armenian.   

Najarian was tearfully greeted by her two children Rita and Koko during an emotional reunion.

“My heart is so full, and I’m so happy that she’s finally home,” said her sister Sossy Seferian in an interview with the Armenian Weekly. “I’m just happy the nightmare is over, and she is safe,” she continued. Seferian tells the Weekly that her sister did undergo a medical evaluation while in prison. She was given medication for hypertension.

At around 8 a.m. local time on Wednesday, Najarian was flown from Azerbaijan to Istanbul, Turkey where she was held most of the day. 

Najarian, along with her sister Ani, repatriated to Artsakh from Lebanon just before the start of the war on September 17. On November 9, Najarian told her sister that she was in Goris and would be heading towards Shushi to retrieve her belongings with her friend Viken Euljekjian, a fellow Lebanese Armenian. That would be the last time the sisters would speak. Najarian and Euljekjian were kidnapped in Berdzor by Azerbaijan’s Armed Forces. Euljekjian is still in captivity.

In February, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), representatives of which visited Najarian during her captivity at Gobustan prison, played a significant role in her ultimate release. The ICRC immediately contacted her relatives informing them her condition was good, although an official health evaluation by a physician was not conducted at the time.

Najarian’s case garnered the attention of the international community, Armenian media and thousands of users on social media calling for her release. 

After almost four months since the end of the Artsakh War, there are still more than 200 POWs held captive by Azerbaijan, including at least three more women who were kidnapped after the ceasefire agreement and some 1,600 military personnel and civilians from the region still missing.

“I also think about the many Armenians still missing, some of them who also went to get their belongings in Artsakh after the war ended and then disappeared. Azerbaijan needs to return them all,” Seferian said. 

This is a developing story. More details will be provided soon.

Maral Najarian pictured with ARF Lebanon Committee members Raffi Demirjian (left) and Vicken Koujanian (right)

This is a developing story. More details will be provided soon.

Linda Berberian

Linda Berberian

Linda Berberian is an independent journalist as well as a full-time corporate communications and staffing director. Although Berberian has spent the majority of her career in corporate healthcare, her true passion has always been journalism. She started her career reporting for the Suburbanite New Jersey newspaper and was published in local magazines. In addition to the Armenian Weekly, Linda has been published in the Armenian Reporter. As an active member of the Armenian community, Linda is most recently recognized for her coverage of the Artsakh War, human rights activism and Armenian related causes. Berberian holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications/Journalism from Fairleigh Dickinson University in NJ, where she served as news director/anchor for its television and radio stations and a reporter for the its campus newspaper. She currently lives in Los Angeles, California.
Linda Berberian

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7 Comments

  1. I’m thrilled she’s free. She’s an Armenian woman and mother. I shudder to think what she’s been through, but she will heal and persevere for the sake of her children. May all our captives and POWs follow soon.

  2. there is a big message to lebanese christians baku to istanbul then beirut nobody will not judge it ? while lebanon one of top trade partner of turkey I hope maronite get their own state and cut relations with arabs and turks

  3. I am a Canadian Armenian originally from Syria. I am really very upset at the Azeris who kept an innocent Armenian mother for 4 months. This shows to the world that ALL TURKS are the same SAVAGE ANIMAL. Yet EU and USA are still doing business with Turks. Do you know why? Just because Turkey and Azerbaijan have more to offer to the west then little Armenia in term of oil (Azerbaijan) and strategic location and military might in NATO (TURKEY). The only western country that is honestly helping Armenia and Armenians in the diaspora is France. Since the first Crusader times (around 1091-1099 A.D.? date could be wrong) France was always with Armenians. The British and Americans do not care about us. They both want more business and money and don’t care about human rights, genocide or democracy and equality. (E.G. Saudi relations (USA) and Azeri relations (U.K.). LONG LIVE ARMENIANS AND FRENCH PEOPLE. KEVORK

  4. Taking a woman hostage just because she is going back for her belongings?
    What would anyone call that?
    Savagery.

    The international community should take a second look at Azerbaijan’s ethics, as well as Turkey’s, the country that sponsors the Azeris.

    Of course, no one remembers the Armenian genocide, same as they will soon forget the Jewish Holocaust. These things will continue to happen, unless…

    Every country is out for themselves it seems…there is no cohesive international cooperation toward countries that act like savages. These savage countries that have not quite gotten the grip of civilization and behave as though human beings are like cattle, will continue to do so, until the international community gets their act together.

    The United States is too absorbed with their own issues: elections (who’s going to become president, a republican or democrat, the only important issue for them…let’s ignore the rest of the world…and that is why Azerbaijan and Turkey succeeded in attacking Artsagh, while America was sleeping), Covid, the color of your skin, etc… The only concerns for Americans.

  5. First of all, intentionally and deliberately taking ordinary Armenians hostage for no reason other than being ethnically Armenian, women in particular, displays the TRUE face of the racist & fascist artificial Azerbaijan and shows how humiliating and devastating the Azerbaijani defeat in the battlefield had been at the hands of brave and patriotic Armenian soldiers over a quarter century ago.

    The top leaderships of criminal Azerbaijan and terrorist Turkey, Aliyev and terrorist-in-chief Er-dog-an along with their terrorist army generals, should be arrested and held responsible for attempted genocide for targeting and indiscriminant killings of Armenian civilians in order to create chaos to ethnically cleanse liberated ancient Armenian territories from the native Armenian populations.

    The fact remains that the Armenians in their worst day will beat and defeat pseudo-Turkish Azerbaijanis in their best day with all their petrodollar resources as evidenced by the fact that artificial Azerbaijan with all its wealth and acquired weaponry could not put a dent on the Armenians for the last 26 years since their capitulation in 1994 when victorious Armenian army brought to their knees the wiped-out Azerbaijani army and its leader Heydar Aliyev, the former KGB agent and the late father of the current thief, charlatan, despot and fake president of artificial Azerbaijan. Armenians gave Azerbaijanis the “alley of shehids” with nearly 40,000 dead Azerbaijani soldiers, while chicken Aliyev turned into a hawk was hiding in Moscow, as a reminder not to mess with the Armenians with falsified non-existent artificial Azerbaijani history. Make no mistake about it, there is no Azerbaijani nation and there is no Azerbaijani state. They are both fake and fabricated. There is only a Turkish outpost in the South Caucasus, a gas station disguised as a country, artificially invented on occupied Armenian lands about a century ago in 1918 by genocidal Central Asian Turks and Soviet criminals for the pursuit of fascist pan-Turkic and pan-Turanic agenda and as a base for Soviet expansion into the Middle East.

    Unlike the past, this war was not between the Armenians and Azerbaijanis. This war was between the Armenian defense forces AND combined forces of artificial and criminal Azerbaijan, NATO member terrorist and genocidal Turkey, the fatherless Islamist Jihadist paid-mercenaries, along with tens of billions of petrodollar purchases of deadly weapons, such as long range missiles and kamikaze drones, from terrorist Pakistan and hypocritical and morally bankrupt Israel. Despite such disparity in numbers and firepower, the Armenians held out for 45 days. This alone was a victory for the Armenian army for the mere fact that many NATO member states themselves could not withstand such massive force and firepower for half that time. Furthermore, artificial Azerbaijan did not have a government and an army for 45 days. They were both handed over to terrorist Turkey which preplanned perhaps a year in advance, conducted and executed this war using all those forces, along with advanced NATO weaponry at their disposal such as F-16 jets intentionally left behind in occupied ancient Armenian province of Nakhijevan at the end of joint terrorist Turkish-Azerbaijani military exercises and moved to occupied Armenian city of Gandzak (falsely known as Genje). Turks and Azerbaijanis, both non-native to the region, are opportunists. The two combined don’t have half the manhood and bravery of a single Armenian patriot and dedicated soldier and that is why they never have and never will dare fight Armenians on level playing field for if they did they will be annihilated.

  6. I agree with your post for the most part, but it was the British, not the Soviets, who invented “Azerbaijan.”

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