“The officers left us and run away, I was taken prisoner-of-war because of them, I cannot carry out their orders”: Soldiers returning from captivity are not ready to continue their military service

237

Saro Markosyan and Narek Nersisyan, who spent 53 days in captivity, claim that they are not psychologically ready to continue their compulsory military service after captivity. Saro and Narek, along with 44 other captives, returned on December 14, 2020.

Saro Markosyan says he was a soldier for three months when he was taken prisoner. On October 23, he received a gunshot wound, was helpless for five days, and then was captured by the enemy. He was in the area of ​​Hadrut, they fought with the enemy before the end of the ammunition.

Before returning to service, 18-year-old Saro Markosyan underwent rehabilitation treatment at Muratsan Military Hospital, but he states that he is not ready to continue his military service.

“We do not adapt to this life; we want to be with our family. I cannot carry out the orders of the officers; the officers did not stand by us during the fight, that’s why I cannot carry out their orders. “If there is a war, we will go to fight, but in these conditions, I cannot serve,” he said.

Saro Markosyan’s mother, Hermine Markosyan, emphasizes that her son needs treatment. According to the soldier’s mother, when the boy had just returned, he was sent to Dilijan, where only psychological support was provided.

“Saro was injured in the back and legs, his whole back was scattered, he remained in that position for five days, helpless. He was taken prisoner five days later. They did not have even a grenade to do anything… There he was beaten; they broke two of his vertebrae. There are problems with his head too. Now he is lame, he is not able to…” said the soldier’s mother, claiming that the boy had been drafted into the army only to fill the numbers.

“Now, they have given him a room, he is not wearing military clothes, he is not participating in anything, they said just lay down and sleep at your leisure. He cannot adapt. He says I can’t do what the officers say, since I was taken prisoner because of the officers: they left us helpless and ran away, we were left there alone,” said Herimine Margaryan.

According to the government’s decision, a lump sum of 500,000 drams [a little less than $1,000] is allocated to those wounded in the war. Hermine Margaryan says that they received this money with great difficulty. According to her, in order to transfer the money, they demanded to bring medical documents from Baku [in Azerbaijan where the soldiers were kept captives].

“They say let the Red Cross bring the history of your illness from Baku so that they can give him 500,000 drams. We complained. “Today (April 26, 2021) the 500 thousand drams was approved, but there is a problem with the 300 thousand drams, which, according to the Prime Minister, they should have given, but they do not give,” he said.

Another detainee, 19-year-old Narek Nersisyan, is facing the same problem. His cousin Rubik Minasyan said that two months after returning from captivity, Narek was again taken to compulsory military service.

“Narek has problems, he generally is in anxious situation. He has no physical problems, but he is in a state of depression, he cannot get out [of it]. The situation is overwhelming, he cannot adapt. Psychologists worked with him, but after working, no one told us anything,” he said.

According to Rubik Minasyan, they applied to the Ministry of Defense, they requested a meeting with the Minister, but so far, they have not received an answer.

Touching upon these issues, human rights activist Artur Sakunts notes that the state is obliged to make sure that the person has no health problems before being drafted into the army.

“When a person is taken captive and returns, must undergo a complex medical examination and serious psychological examinations. The issue of his compulsory military service should be clarified. They cannot tell a person returning from captivity to get up and go to serve at once. If those soldiers did not go through the restoration work, it is a crime. It is clear that captivity is not a place of relaxation. The state must be convinced that he is fit for military service,” said the human rights activist.

Andranik Kocharyan, Chairman of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Defense and Security, says that the relevant departments should take steps to settle the issue quickly.

“I have received such alarms and, of course, I will have a discussion with the Minister of Defense and the Chief of the General Staff, because there is a problem here. There is a requirement of the law here, but we must understand that captivity and returning from captivity are serious psychological problems. They must first be rested for a long time. They should forget what they went through, they need serious psychological support,” said Andranik Kocharyan.

Narek Kirakosyan