“The battalion commander fled and the boys were left leaderless”

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Sergeant Karo Hovakimyan was born in Syria. He was two and a half years old when the family moved to Armenia. During the 44-day war, he served as a male nurse first in Jrakan and then in Hadrut. The exact date of his death is still unknown. It is unknown also what injuries he did of. In December 2020, his bones were found and handed over to his parents.

“We are very saddened by the thought that we could not get citizenship and our son would not serve in the army. He would walk in the streets of the city with long hair and chewing gum. But we would not live like that, we did not think like that. Ours was different. We thought that if we enjoy the goods of this country, this is our country, and we also have to pay our debt to this country. And we paid very dearly,” says Karo’s father, Sargis Hovakimyan.

According to him, many circumstances about the death of his son are still unknown, but they are no longer important, as it is impossible to change anything. “We moved to Armenia in 2003, when Karo was 2.5 years old. We decided to continue our life in Armenia. We went through a lot of hardships until I was able to succeed in terms of work over the years. My daughter Nane was born in Armenia, and then — my youngest son Manvel,” says the father of the killed soldier. Sargis is a dentist, and it is part of the family business. After graduating from high school, Karo decided also to pursue a career in medicine and enrolled in a dental school. After studying for one semester, however, he was drafted into the army and served as a male nurse in Jrakan.

During the war, he assured his family that he was in a safe place, that he was not in any danger, and, on October 4, he called his father and said that he was in Hadrut because “Jrakan is no more.”

The last time he talked to his parents was on October 8. “Then the connection was cut off and that was it. I learned from his friends that he was alive until the 10th of the month. By a wrongful command, they got to a position surrounded by Azeris. It was one of the nearby positions of Vank village in Hadrut. There were 94 people. Most of them died, some are still missing. There were prisoners of war as well. Their commander was killed, the middle level command did what it could, and the commander of their battalion fled and the boys were left headless.”

The battalion commander was Ishkhan Vahanyan, who is currently detained. He is charged with Part 3 of Article 356 of the RA Criminal Code (non-compliance with the order) and Part 1 of Article 380 (leaving the battlefield self-willedly or refusing to use the weapon). According to the penitentiary, Vahanyan did not fulfill the order of his immediate superior during the hostilities, as well as self-willedly left the battlefield, as a result of which the personnel of the training battalion of the military unit under his direct command were killed, received various degrees of bodily injury and were were taken prisoner, thus causing severe consequences.

It should be noted that Ishkhan Vahanyan was released last spring, but he was arrested again after the boys’ protests.

In memory of Karo Hovakimyan, the parents founded a charity fund, which helps children with disabilities, cerebral palsy and those in need of other medical interventions, wounded soldiers and children from needy families.

Ani Gevorgyan