Former prisoners of war were taken to a rehabilitation center at the request of commanders

133

“I was in captivity for 51 days. And, for 51 days, I waited for death every second. I have been dead for 51 days,” said S., who returned from captivity in Azerbaijan.

He does not have the answers to many questions. For example, he can’t explain why he can’t wear a military uniform after returning from captivity, why he feels disgusted when he looks at it.

He was forced to wear the uniform when they took him back to military service in Ararat.

S. is one of the three POW’s who had to continue their service in the Armenian army after returning from captivity to Armenia.

In a conversation with Forrights.am, S. H. said that when he was returned to Armenia, he felt infinite amount of happiness; he was sure that now everything would be fine, he even expressed a desire to continue his service, to go and take revenge on the Azeris. “But after a few days, when I came to my senses, I realized that I was in shock, the thirst for revenge was suffocating me, that in reality I do not want anything. I consider my service over; I do not think I could have done more for the homeland than what I did, what I gave during those 51 days. I have other things to think about than military service.”

He has a desire to be with his family. But they do not give any clear information to the former prisoners of war about how long they will be kept in Dilijan. “This is another captivity,” says S., “I was persuaded to try to serve again. I was brought here by chance from the

unit. I went to the medical center of the military unit to get a headache medicine and I learned there that they were bringing me to Dilijan. I am constantly waiting. As if they have forgotten us, ignored us. They do not even explain why they took us here, why they brought us. I do not know what will happen to me the next minute, I do not even have a military ID.”

S. does not understand why only three out of dozens of POW’s returned to Armenia were returned to military service. “Perhaps, because we did not let anyone interfere, we thought it was our state and the state would make the right decision, and, as a result, we found ourselves in a state of neglect,” the young man complains.

S. did not communicate with almost anyone in the service, he lost sleep at nights. “It always seemed to me that I was in the center of attention in the military unit, everyone was looking at me. Even now, we cannot sleep at night. We sit and talk to each other, to the former captives, we talk, we talk… but the pain does not go away”

The Ministry of Defense told Forrights.am that the three men are currently in the army. “S. N., N.N. and S.H. have been examined by the Central Military Medical Commission and were recognized fit for service with restrictions. All three were taken to a military unit. S. M.’s mother complained and, based on her complaint, S. M. was taken to Dilijan Rehabilitation Center for a second examination. The other two young men were taken to the center of Dilijan at the suggestion of the military unit commander, as there were difficulties with their service.

The Ministry also informed that S. M. was provided with 500,000 drams [a little less than $1,000] through the mediation of the Ministry of Defense’s Human Rights and Ethics Center, as a medical examination revealed that he had a shrapnel wound. The family has already received the money.

S. H. is currently under care of his mother. He is on rehabilitation leave.

It is possible that the boys will be examined by a medical commission for the second time after receiving treatment at the Dilijan Rehabilitation Center, in order to make the final decision on whether the three former prisoners of war can continue their military service.

Syuzan Simonyan