The Ministry of Defense has announced a new legislative package, which will replace the three-month military gatherings with 25-day gatherings.
According to that, all citizens who are subject to military service are obliged to participate in gatherings once a year. They can choose the period of gatherings. The main service will last 21 days: 7 days of training, 14 days of combat duty and 4 days of organizational work.
During the government session last Thursday, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan explained why they are switching to a new order of gatherings. “People are working, with which there is a problem. We decided to invite especially those people who do not have a job, and this had a social significance in a way, because the participants of the three-month gatherings are also paid, they receive a salary, but later we came to the conclusion that it is not so effective.”
In fact, financial incentives will not be set for the participants of the 25-day gatherings.
Military expert, lawyer Mher Hakobyan sees a problem of justice, because we have a situation where some men are released from service, and for others, 2 years of mandatory military service becomes more than 4 years: 25 days a year for 35 years is 875 additional days.
Forrights.am talked to military expert Hayk Nahapetyan about this issue. He believes that the periods specified– 7 days of preparation, 14 days for combat duty and 4 days for organizational work– are not enough, they should be extended. Hayk Nahapetyan believes that those citizens who do not have experience and knowledge, who did not guard the border, should not be sent to combat duty.
In order to make such a global change, according to the expert, it is necessary to study the experience of Israel, most of whose servicemen are actually in combat operations and on the contact line, as well as the example of Switzerland, in terms of reserve preparation and certification. Arrogance and adventure will cost us dearly,” says Hayk Nahapetyan. He also considers not to pay material compensation to the participants of the gatherings to be impermissible.
During the very first gatherings, problems related to insufficient order and medical examination appeared.
During the military gathering in 2021, in September, it became known about the death of 43-year-old Mkrtich Hovakimyan, a participant in the three-month gatherings, who died from a bullet fired by a fellow soldier in one of Syunik’s positions.
A year later, on August 4, 2022, 44-year-old Atom Razmiki Harutyunyan, a participant in the three-month training camp of the N military unit of the Ministry of Defense, died suddenly.
5 days later, on August 9, another death was registered: Azat M., who was conscripted from Shirak region, suffocated while swimming in Lake Sevan. The human rights defenders dealing with the problems of the army received anonymous complaints from the participants of the gatherings.
On October 13, the Vanadzor office of the Helsinki Civil Assembly made a statement, in which it mentioned a number of violations: the notice of participation in the training sessions is issued to the persons listed in the reserve forces in violation of the order, the latter are not subjected to medical examinations, the family status of the persons participating in the sessions, the presence of a disabled person in the family, a single person the fact of being a breadwinner are not taken into account, etc.
Without correcting these deficiencies, the government is, in fact, preparing to establish a new regime that implies more intensive gatherings with a wider inclusion of military bases.