“They brought a box, put it in front of us and said ‘it is your child’”

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Vardan Zakaryan was killed on October 23 in a plane bomb blast in Martuni. The family found out about it a week later, by chance, from an acquaintance who had gone to war voluntarily. Vartan was buried in Yerablur, but there was no mention of him by any state body.

The soldier was 22 years old. At the age of 18, due to a large kidney stone, he was first deferred for 6 months, then for three years, and, in August 2020, he was drafted into the army.

Throughout the war, Vartan reassured his parents that everything was normal and that he was safe. On October 23, he called his parents, then all his relatives one by one, saying that he would not be able to call for several days. Then he called his girlfriend and asked her to light a candle for him. There was no news from Vartan after that.

Upon receiving the news of his son’s death, the father did not believe it, he thought it was a mistake. “They tried to make me understand on the 30th. I did not believe it. They went to Metsamor, came back. Some said it was him, some said it was not. Then they persuaded me and took me to see him. I went and said this was not my child. They showed me the picture, I said no, it’s not mine. Then the DNA proved that he is my child. How do you live after that? You see the child, you say it is not yours, then they prove it, they say it is yours…They betrayed so much… Our children would not have lost if they had not betrayed,” says Vardan’s father, Arthur.

“We kept him, took care of him, gave him to the homeland to defend, then they brought a box, put it in front of me and said, ‘This is yours,’ and no one knocked on my door for months. No one: nothing from the military commissariat, nothing, nothing: indifference. Neither my wife nor I have been working for a year. It’s pointless. House – Yerablur [military cemetery]- house. We do not do anything else, we are calm there. Our children seem to give us strength and hope. You go to Yerablur sick, you come home healthy. I’m serious. If someone had told me something like this before, I would have thought that this person may have gone crazy, but in reality, I go to Yerablur, and my wife and I become healthy.”

Vartan’s mother says the house has been emptied and life has become meaningless. She remembers that at the end of each phone call her son asked what was the news or was there any news about the end of the war. “In other words, the children were waiting to see what had been decided, when the war would end, when there would be a ceasefire. When we talk to other parents, it turns out that was the last word of all the children.”

Ani Gevorgyan