How did it happen that inexperienced, unarmed young men without any military training, who were drafted with various violations, were taken to the front lines during the 44-day war and then transferred to an area that had been crossed by the enemy a few days earlier? Who gave that order? Why did the officers and commanders run away, leaving the boys alone?

The parents of the 72 boys who went missing in Hadrut do not get any answers to these questions. All they know is that the Hadrut region has been in the hands of the enemy since October 9, and their sons were transferred there from the “Martuni-3” defense post on October 13, being sure that they would not return.

“Whoever you talk to, they say they had received an order. Where did the order spring from?  No one takes the responsibility for that order,” said Marieta Balayan, a resident of the village of Voskehat, after multiple visits to various state instances, and analyzing officials’ responses.

She lost her two sons, Vahe and Davit, in Hadrut. After the sons left for Artsakh, they telephoned home and spoke with their parents every day. Junior sergeant, senior of the position Davit Tevosyan was the younger and Vahe was the elder son. They told the mother they were fine.

On the 6th of the month, Vahe was not in the mood. The commander, whose name her son did not say on the phone, instructed him to carry heavy weaponry. “I could not move alone, and he said the last words to me and cursed. We came here to give our lives, and see how do they talk to us,” Vahe has complained to his mother. Indifference towards soldiers manifests itself even after their death.

On the morning of October 11, the soldiers received a fatal order and were transferred to Hadrut in the afternoon. “They were unavailable. I called different numbers; I had the numbers of 10-20 soldiers, but no one answered. They took the phones away from them so that they could not get in touch,” tells Marietta.

After the war, when everyone was killed, she found the phone of one of the boys. There was a short video in the phone of soldiers singing and walking toward Hadrut.

The mother started looking for her sons from October 10 until December 5, believing that they were alive and hiding in the woods. She is convinced that, from the very first day, the Defense Ministries of Artsakh and Armenia knew about what happened to the 72 boys, but did not tell the parents.

On December 5, the parents were allowed to enter Hadrut, the village of Aygestan, where the boys were killed. And they passed through hell, collecting what was left of their children, bringing home and burying the sacred boxes.

At first, Marietta buried David’s remains. His foot and a part of his head were found when the boy was already buried. “When those relics were identified by a DNA test, we had to open [the grave] and put them back into David’s box, but when they found Vahe’s remains during that time, we did not open David’s box anymore; we just put David’s remains in Vahe’s coffin,” drowning in tears, Mareta remembers that they were inseparable when they were alive, that Vahe could not imagine himself without David. Vahe left the seminary in her sophomore year to go to the army together with her younger brother.

“He said, I’m going, mom, I will serve in the army with David and will come back. In the meantime, you will have soldiers for just two years instead of for 4 years.’ And today, no one cares what happened to these children. No one of them expressed any condolences; neither from the Military Commissariat, nor from the Ministry of Defense: no one called… Who had the right to send two brothers to a battle at once, when they knew that they might not come back? Nobody cares. They gave us that box in a way as if they were saying ‘we got rid from these too’. If we do not speak out, they will not remember us, they will not say that we have given our most precious possession — our children. “I’m made of stone; they said your two sons are no more, and I am still alive,” the mother weeps. And it seems to her that her sons are alive, they are just not at home, they have gone to the army and will still return.

P.S. Within the framework of this occasion, a case was initiated in the Investigative Committee in February under Article 375, Part 4 of the RA Criminal Code (inaction of the government during the war) against  General Major Karen Arustamyan who was the commander of Hadrut in the South-Eastern direction during the war.

On April 13, the parents wrote a letter to the Parliament, demanding that the deputies and state bodies transfer the case from the investigative bodies to the jurisdiction of the National Security Service.

On April 15, it became known that former commander of the Artsakh Defense Army, Lieutenant General Jalal Harutyunyan was interrogated within the framework of the case. The parents have no further information about the investigation.

The last official to respond to the parents was Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan. The parents visited him last week. He said that he had nothing to do with the orders related to the army, the orders were received from Yerevan.

Syuzan Simonyan

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