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15.01.2018 | army

More mines, more victims: Giant Sako’s cloths will be brought home (video)

More mines, more victims: Giant Sako’s cloths will be brought home (video)
It is two months already that grievance and lamentation of Abo Melikyan’s wife do not end. The body of the grandson was brought in a closed coffin from the military unit in Martakert.    

"My Sargis, my darling, my Sargis, pity. I apologize; my heart is full, I cannot calm down… He was supposed to come home on January 21," explains the grandmother and tells the same thing over and over about how she couldn’t find her place that day, how "the thoughts were not summed up", how she could not even watch the “Icha’s movie.” “At night, I saw lots of people in our yard. I asked what happened, why so many people have come? How would I know that the flame of my house has been extinguished?”    

Soldier Sargis Melikyan, lieutenant of the same company Gegham Zakaryan and ordinary Sargis Abrahamyan were killed on November 21 due to a mine explosion. Another soldier, Narek Hoveyan, was wounded in the same incident. He lost his eye and for now is unable to talk. Sargis’s nickname in the unit was “Giant”: he was a big and healthy young man.

Before the army, his parents had baptized him so that he stays away of harm’s way. But they received a notification from the Third Garrison Investigation Department, with one sentence in it: "The cause of death-- damages caused by military action."   

“I cannot visualize how he died, what happened. I have not seen his body, so I will always think that my Sako will still come,” Ruzanna Melikyan, Sako’s mother shares her thoughts and emotions. Her husband, Mher Melikyan, has seen his son’s body: the part of it where the heard was was gone, a part of the head was burned, the leg was separated from body.   

In recent years, the Melikyan couple was living in Moscow. They wanted to take Sako too to Russia. But the son did not agree. “I will go to the army, serve there and return, so that I can live in peace,” he told. For “living in peace” remained two months. 

"We want them to send experienced and knowledgeable people to work with mines," says Evelina Melikyan, the victim`s aunt. His son is in the army too. "I have not heard any discontent from my son regarding the army, we have not felt how his first year of service passed, but, after Sargis’s death, each day seems like a year to me. We have not sold our son to the country in order to receive some sums from here and there or to get them back with a flag and a star."

The Melikyans assume that the cause of the servicemen’s death was inexperience of their commanders, the fact that the lieutenant had finished his military training at the Vazgen Sargsyan Military Institute only a couple of months ago and it was too early for him to be sent to work with mines. 

They showed Forrights.am the certificate that Sargis has received from the Etchmiadzin training military unit, but they were not sure whether it was time to send him to work with mines. We contacted the commander of the Etchmiadzin military unit, where Sargis was trained, and asked if it was allowed to send ordinary soldiers to mine work after 6 months of training. We received the following answer:

"I do not know the details of this particular case and have not participated in the investigation, I cannot say how the safety rules were followed. But if he had completed the course and received our certificate, passed the test, then they definitely could send him for such a work.” The commander refused to give us his name, “not to cause unnecessary excitement to the deceased`s parents.” 

The Defense Ministry has sent cadets to Abo Melikyan`s home in Vardenis. They went to honor Sargis and express condolences to his parents, grandparents and relatives, and they took boxed sweets with them and a letter signed by the Defense Minister Vigen Sargsyan. The letter emphasized that the visit of the cadets is in the framework of the program "You are Not Alone" implemented under the auspices of the President of the Republic of Armenia and with the support of the Youth Foundation. 

"This is an assurance that Sargis`s deed has not been forgotten ... in fact, we have not lost your loved one, but we`ve found him with a new, heroic image," stated the letter. 

On January 30, the Melikyans are waiting for other guests -- Sargis`s discharged fellow-soldiers, who will bring his clothes and personal belongings from Karabakh. 

The fact finders of the organization Journalists for Human Rights have recorded a dozen of mine explosion casualties that resulted in death or wounding of the Armenian army servicemen in 2017.    

Suzan Simonyan
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