The fall of Tumi village: “No one imagined that one day the Turk could enter our village”

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Captain Andrey Avagyan, 30, was killed on October 13 in Hadrut, in Fizuli. He was from the village of Tumi in Hadrut [Nagorno Karabakh], which came under Azerbaijani control as a result of the war.

The captain’s entire family – grandfather, mother, wife, two children, sister’s and brother’s families had left their native village during the war. Losing everything, they now live in the city of Abovyan in Armenia, but still have no idea how and where they will live in the near future.

The mother of the killed soldier, Lira Avagyan, tells that Andrey was a 9-year contract soldier, a platoon commander. Prior to his service, he studied at the Vazgen Sargsyan Military Academy. During his service he had the opportunity to move from Fizuli to Stepanakert, but refused to do so. He took part in the Four-Day War of 2016 and was awarded the Medal of Courage by the President of Artsakh.

All that is known about the circumstances of Andrey Avagyan’s death, is only that he died during the hostilities, from a drone strike.

“At first, they said he was injured. I did not believe it. Then it was officially reported that he has died… he was buried in Yerablur

… they say he was killed by a drone. They also say that Grad has hit on those places as well,” says the mother, somehow controlling her whimper.

She said that during this war the situation was not like the four-day war. “At that time, we knew what to do, and the war was over. They stopped it then. This war was terrible.”

Speaking about what happened in the village of Tumi during the war, Lira Avagyan said that she sent her two daughters-in-law and grandchildren to Yerevan on September 29, but she stayed. However, over the days the situation became more dangerous, and when there were almost no people left in the village, she left for Yerevan too.

Lira Avagyan’s daughter-in-law Mariam remembers the war days. “We were in the village. It seemed that those three days, after the start of the war, lasted for months and years. And we were scared, and we had no news from the boys. On the 28th of the month, my brother came and told us enthusiastically about the war. He came to say that they were fine and to take some food from home. He said that our army had made good progress. We had no idea we had to leave the village.

Then, on the 29th of the month, my husband called and said, ‘Take the children and go to Yerevan.’ I said, how are we going to go there, how can you guys be there and we–in Yerevan? Then my father came and said, ‘Take the children, think that you are going on vacation for ten days’.”

Andrey Avagyan’s sister Liana considers the decline of their village unbelievable. “Our village in particular was such a place that no one could have imagined that one day the Turk would enter. It was the day we left, on the 5th of the month, more people were coming by car a little further, out of the village, as a safe place,” she says.

Ani Gevorgyan