31 years after Jewish boy in Azerbaijan was kidnapped, the search continues

Vugar ben Avraham Mikhailov, a Jew from Azerbaijan, was abducted when he was 19 years old, but his family believes he is still alive; The International Committee of the Red Cross estimates that approximately 4,500 residents of Azerbaijan and Armenia have disappeared since 1992 

Vugar ben Avraham Mikhailov was kidnapped by Armenians in the Füzuli region of Karabakh in 1993. Recently, American Hasidic journalist Jake Turx went to Azerbaijan to look for Mikhailov, who was kidnapped at the age of 19.
The roots of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, a region of cultural importance to both Armenians and Azerbaijanis and from where Mikhailov was kidnapped, lie in the last years of the Soviet Union. During the days of the Soviet Union, of which Azerbaijan and Armenia were a part, the enclave enjoyed extensive autonomy within Azerbaijan; but with the beginning of the collapse of the Soviet Union, a rebellion of Armenian separatists broke out, and when its disintegration was complete, this rebellion became an all-out war between Armenian forces, who received assistance from independent Armenia, and independent Azerbaijan.
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ווגאר בן אברהם מיכאילוב. נעדר 31 שנה
ווגאר בן אברהם מיכאילוב. נעדר 31 שנה
Vugar ben Avraham Mikhailov in a photo from 1993
During that war, which lasted until 1994, most of the Azeri population of Nagorno-Karabakh was forced to flee the border, and the Armenian forces took control not only of it but also of extensive Azeri areas surrounding it. Then, for about two and a half decades, the conflict was mostly frozen, with the exception of shooting incidents from time to time.
Turx said that he first learned about Vugar's story 14 months ago. "Based on various sources, documents, and eyewitness accounts, I have tracked Vugar's captivity across Karabakh – from a detention center in Seyidahmadli, to a prison in Khankendi, and a labor brigade in Shusha – areas that were controlled by separatists until recently," he wrote in an X post updating his search for the Jewish man.
He said that Mikhailov's last location was in the remote mountain village of Chartaz, where he was one of an unknown number of prisoners from Azerbaijan who were reportedly forced to stay in a forced labor camp, what Turz describes as "slavery."
Turks said that "although Azerbaijan regained control of the entire Karabakh region eight months ago, the pervasive presence of minefields, booby traps, and unexploded ordnance made it impossible to conduct a search for Vugar."
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ג'ייק טורקס (מימין) במהלך החיפושים
ג'ייק טורקס (מימין) במהלך החיפושים
Hasidic Jornalist Jake Turx, right, continues his search
Last week, Turx says, he was finally given unrestricted access to previously inaccessible areas, and that he and his crew have been "mounting an ambitious and aggressive search for clues, information, and evidence about the whereabouts of Vugar, who turned 50 earlier this year."
Vogar has been missing for 31 years, but his family believes he is still alive.
"So next time you pray for the hostages in Gaza, please add the name of one more missing hostage: Vugar Ben Nina," Turx wrote.He urged anyone with information or a source to contact to contact him. "Our search has just begun," he said.
The International Committee of the Red Cross estimates that approximately 4,500 Azeris and Armenians have disappeared since 1992, when fighting between the countries began, but noted that the information is inaccurate.
Turx is the White House correspondent for Ami Magazine.
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