From October 2020 until today, the Sakayan father and son are considered missing. The family has not had any accurate information about them for more than a year. The Sakanyans are from the village of Ishkhanadzor in the Kashatagh region of Artsakh, which has already fallen under Azerbaijan’s control.

The Sakanyans moved to Ishkhanadzor 20 years ago with a resettlement program. In October 2020, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces started firing intensively on the settlement. Peaceful residents, including the Sakanyans, were forced to leave the village. The father of the family, Seryozha Sakanyan, refused to leave his home.

“He stayed in Ishkhanadzor, he said, ‘I will not leave my house, I will stay in my house.’ My mother-in-law and sister-in-law went to bring him, but he did not come. He did not want to leave the house,” said daughter-in-law, Laura Zakharyan.

According to the family members, Seryozha Sakanyan, a participant in the First Artsakh War, hoped that the Armenian side would win like in the 90s, so there was no need to leave.

The family members were in constant contact with their father after leaving Ishkhanadzor. The last time they talked to him on the phone was on October 20; they persuaded him to join them again, but he refused. After October 20, 2020, the family finally lost touch with their father. They have no information about his current location.

After the end of the war, Seryozha Sakanyan’s children recorded a video on the Internet from an Azerbaijani site of how Azerbaijani gunmen tortured an elderly man. The Sakanyans think that the man being tortured in the video is their father.

“We saw a video of Azeris in military uniform beating a man with his hands and feet tied, then cutting off his ears. We could not see his face but, from the voice, we understood that it was my father,” says Armenak Sakanyan, Seryozha Sakanyan’s son.

In addition to the pain of losing their father, the Sakanyans are tormented by the fact that their son, Ararat Sakanyan, is missing. The latter is a contract soldier; in October 2020, according to his brother Armenak, he left for Jebrail, after which the connection with him was lost.

According to the relatives, Ararat’s fellow servicemen provide contradictory information about his disappearance. Those who were with Ararat told the Sakanyans the following:

“Ararat went in a group of six people in a car to conduct monitoring in some area. At that moment, the enemy targeted the car, opened fire, everyone got out of the car and hid in a nearby gorge. Then, coming out of the blockade, they saw that Ararat was not with them. Another person from that group said that he had not seen Ararat since he got out of the car,” the relatives say.

Ararat Sakanyan’s family tried to find him with DNA match with the remains of war victims, but none of the samples matched. Armenak also tried to look for his brother in the territories under the control of Azerbaijan, when it was possible to cross those territories through the mediation of Russian peacekeepers, but, as Armenak assures, he was not allowed to do so.

Armenak Sakanyan also is a participant in this war. 30-years old Armenak volunteered for war on September 27, 2020, and took part in hostilities in Jebrail. He was transferred to Armenia after being injured in the leg and arm.

“Wounded, I walked 47 km from Jebrail to Mount Ara, because we were under siege. I was injured in my leg and arm on October 3. I still have the shrapnel in my leg; they did not take it off, because I might not be able to walk anymore,” he says.

Armenak now lives in Kharberd with his wife and three minor children. The family is in serious social problems. Armenak does not have a job, the apartment rent of 100 thousand AMD [approximately $250] is paid by individual benefactors. Armenak needs a passport to get a job, which he is not able to get from the Republic of Armenia.

“I do not have a passport, which is a huge problem. If I can get a passport, I can get a job. I did not have a passport at all, and I have lost my birth certificate to be able to get a passport based on it. I applied to the passport department, they said to go and apply for it in Artsakh, but my birth certificate is not in the archive. The lawyer wants 150,000 drams for legal aid, which I do not have.”

Armenak’s six-year-old daughter is deprived of the right to receive a school education. She has health problems, her face is covered with big wounds. The parents say that a year ago it was caused by a mosquito bite. The school said that she shall not attend classes until the problem is solved. A family in poverty has no means to cover the child’s medical expenses.

Narek Kirakosyan

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