61-year-old Hovik Khachatryan eyes, who lives in Pokr Masrik village of Gegharkunik region, are directed only towards Kutakan mountains: after the short battles of September, the body of his son, 34-year-old Shiraz Khachatryan, is there. At first, he was in military clothes, now there are only his bones.
“Every day, with tears in my eyes, I get out of the house, Iook at the mountain, my child is lying down on it: what shall I do? Can’t they take out the body of my child, bring here. They have been making this people cry for four months,” Khachatryan told Forrights.am.
The people are Shiraz’s wife, Mariam, his two young children, and his mother. He says that every day starts, lasts and ends with crying. “It’s been four months since he [his body] is on the mountain, on the ground, and now it is under the snow.” “Is it such a lad that I gave them?” are the crying words of the mother.
Shiraz’s wife, Mariam, says that her husband was on vacation when, late at night on September 13, he received an alarm telephone call and invitation from the “position”.
“I was alone with two children; he left us and went. I said don’t go, he said if we all run away from a fight, where will it go? He went that night and said ‘Don’t call, I will call you’. He went and never called,” says Mariam.
The next day, she did not want to believe the rumors spread in the village about her husband’s death: she thought that the command from the military unit would convey some reassuring information, but they never contacted her.
Only after some time, they found out what happened to Shiraz from conversations with his fellow soldiers. “They called, asked to go to the positions by car for help, with 12 people, Shiraz was behind them, they went to the position, but it turned out that the position was already taken by Turks [means Azeris]. They started shooting at the car. 11 of them escaped leaving Shiraz alone. They tell us that they brought him down for severel meters on the position, but couldn’t they have brought him with themselves? Or, if the enemy was already there, you send them to kill them. Why do you send so many people one after the other?”
Now all 11 fellow servicemen are alive, and Shiraz Khachatryan’s body is in the interposition zone of Kutakan. His relatives took pictures of Shiraz also through video surveillance devices and with a drone and saw that he was in his military uniform. And then only his bones remained.
“Later, the Turks put a post there. If they had told us at least on the third day, we would have brought the child’s body in some way,” says the father.
34-year-old Shiraz Khachatryan was a contract soldier: at first, he guarded the Omar mountains, during the 44-day war he was on different fronts, and after the war he was transferred to Kutakan positions.
The Khachatryan family is in despair. At this moment, it is important for them to get at least a part of their son’s body. With that request, they addressed almost all relevant structures: the International Committee of the Red Cross, the command of the Russian peacekeeping troops in Artsakh, they wrote even to Vladimir Putin, but in vain: no organization has taken responsibility for lowering Shiraz’s body from the interposition area. The father even offered to organize a sabotage attempt and bring back his son’s body, but they did not agree to that either.
“They said to wait until spring. There are pictures, there are facts that my child is lying there. I brought a loudspeaker; I sent my other son to negotiate: nothing helped. Does the Ministry of Defense exist? Isn’t it their duty to do something? I am simply ashamed of the state of our army. There are many notices of conscription, but no one goes. Whoever saw all this, took their children away. No matter how patriotic you are, why would you go if you know you’re going to go through a meat grinder?” says the father.
The family did not receive words of condolences or support from the Ministry of Defense, nor did they visit them, instead, from September 13 on, Shiraz’s salary of 220,000 drams was stopped. “They dutifully stopped the salary. And not, there is no worker in the family, we feel financial distress,” says Mariam.
Shiraz’s body is missing, there was no funeral, and the state is going to declare him a missing person. Although this status is difficult and unacceptable for the family, there is no other way out, and now the family in heavy grief is going through paperwork.
“We don’t want that status: the boy is on the edge of this mountain slope, I get up and look at him shedding tears, what missing person status can they talk of? How can I accept that status? If there were no facts, I would understand, but we have facts that is there. It’s an uncertain situation,” says the father.