“One of my commanders was saying, ‘You are pretending so that you don’t serve’: The serviceman was not granted disability status

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Marine Sargsyan Hayk’s aunt

On October 10, 2018, Junior Sergeant Hayk Sargsyan received gunshot wound from the enemy in one of the military units of Artsakh. The bullet crushed the soldier’s right elbow. The condition was assessed as satisfactory. According to official information, at the time of the incident, Hayk was conducting trench work on his own initiative to furnish the peephole. But, this time too, the official memo obscures the reality.

21-year-old Hayk Sargsyan was drafted into the army on July 2, 2017. He was granted a number of awards and commendation letters and a junior sergeant rank for his disciplinary and exemplary service. He was serving in one of military units of Artsakh, where he carried out combat duty.

On the day of the incident, he was in position, on the orders of one of the commanders (he did not wish to name the commander-ed.), he and several other servicemen were doing work in the trench surveillance when the enemy began to fire irregularly.

About 2-3 shots were fired and that’s when I felt something touched my right hand, then I saw blood and realized I had been injured,” Hayk told Forrights.

In the battle line the soldiers tried to provide medical care, but the medical supplies, due to wear and tear, did not serve their purpose:

“They had to tie my wrist with my shirt until the ambulance arrived. We waited for ambulance for an hour.”

Hayk was taken to Martuni and then, due to worsening health he, unconscious, was taken to Stepanakert hospital. Hayk’s aunt, a physician by profession, says the soldier did not receive adequate medical care and their efforts to transport him to Muratsan Hospital in Yerevan were in vain:

 “The child was constantly complaining of arm pains, although he underwent surgery, which did not serve the purpose. Two months after the injury, Hayk was again transferred to the military unit, leaving the treatment incomplete. They said, dear boy, you will go to the military unit, work your arm, and it will be healed. I did not know that the military units have become rehabilitation centers,” Marine Sargsyan expresses her frustration.

In such a state of health, Hayk remained in the position until January, until the sharp deterioration of health. They did not believe Hayk in the military unit, they thought he was “simulating”.

“One of my commanders was saying, ‘You are pretending so that you don’t serve’. The other said, “I wish the bullets did not hit your arm but your head, except, I wish, you did not die immediately but were tormented,” Hayk recalls.

However, Hayk was taken to a hospital in Stepanakert, where he received some physiotherapeutic treatment. After 3-4 weeks of hospitalization, he was discharged and returned to combat duty. Hayk says he was not able to hold the weapon; only with left arm he managed to do so.

“Such overload could have resulted in amputation,” Hayk’s aunt notes.

In May of last year, Hayk was again brought down from the positions and presented to disability status, but the commission did not recognize him disabled and sent him back to the military positions. He remained there until the end of his military service and was discharged on July 2.

A criminal case was instituted but it was dropped by the investigating authorities. The latter argued that there was an insurmountable force impeding further proceedings.

Hayk’s family members also appealed to the Ministry of Defense’s Hot Line, but were disappointed.

“After calling, we did more damage to Hayk: they got more negative towards him” Mrs. Marine explains.

Alexander Avetisyan, the head of the Human Rights and Integrity Building Center at the RA Ministry of Defense, who also coordinates the Hot Line calls, said that the Sarkisians had to call again and alert about negative attitudes. As for not providing disability status, it is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, and they cannot do anything if the Commission has made such a decision:

 “If the Ministry decides that there is no need to establish a disability status, the Ministry of Defense is powerless there,” Avetisyan said.

In response to our question as to whether it is correct and effective to re-enlist a soldier after being wounded by the enemy, Avetisyan noted that cases of dismissal from compulsory military service or demobilization are already listed in the Code and are not subject to changes.

After being discharged from the army, Hayk tried to work, but soon realized that he was unable to work: the pain in his arm became unbearable. In addition, Hayk is in serious psychological distress.

“Hayk is in a very bad psychological state. He has become nervous and irritable, aggressive. He uses medications, we do psychological work with him. Treatment affects only temporarily, there is no complete cure. Just after the incident, especially given Hayk’s state of physical and mental health, they had to demobilize and give him disability status, which they failed to do.”

Roza Vardanyan

ԹՈՂՆԵԼ ՊԱՏԱՍԽԱՆ

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