The residents of Sarushen village, about 400 people, miraculously got out of the Azerbaijani siege and were saved. In a conversation with Forrights.am, Alisa Arustamyan remembers September 19, a day during which they fled from place to place all the time.
Sarushen is in Askeran region of NK. The attack on the positions started at 11:00 in the morning. The positions were 200-300 meters away from the village. “They sounded the alarm, the children were sent home from school,” remembers Mrs. Alisa.
“After a while they started shooting and immediately attacked the village. My son called and said, “Go the basements, the situation is bad.” Mrs. Alisa’s son, Armen Arustamyan, called 10 minutes after reaching the positions from home. This was the last phone call between the mother and the son.
“After a while, the head of the village sent someone from the position to get us out of the village and send to the forest.” Mrs. Alisa says how people managed to leave their house: one in home clothes, the other without documents… Sarushen people took the road to the forest. The residents reached the forest with much difficulty since they were under the fire. “I don’t know how, but we reached the forest. It was already dark. With our children in our hands, we were waiting for we would be told. I hoped that I would return home again. They came and said that they have already entered the village; we should go.” After waiting for five hours and seeing that the danger is getting closer, the residents took the road to Msmna village on the advice of the village head. It is located in Martuni region.
“At night, we set off on foot to go to Msmna. We walked five to six kilometers and arrived at 3 a.m. In the morning, the village head brought cars, we came to Stepanakert. I didn’t go to our house anymore; we left empty-handed, we didn’t even take our documents.”
Peacefull residents who were forcibly displaced witnessed even more atrocities on the way. Azerbaijani soldiers shot the wounded who were being taken to the hospital from Sarushen positions. “The Turks cut off the path of the wounded and started killing and torturing them with automatic weapons. Three were injured. People saw in the morgue that the halves of the heads were missing, my son also saw them.” According to her, the wounded were 33, 40, 70 years old. “If we had come out a little later, they would have entered and killed us too. We crossed through the shooting.”
On September 19, Mrs. Alisa’s son, Arman, was also killed. He was an elder of the position, 32 years old. He came to Artsakh from Russia and could not go back due to the blockade. He decided to join the militia and defend the motherland.
“The children standing at the positions fought, they freed us at the cost of their lives. My son fought until his last breath, he said, ‘I will not leave here until the village is emptied’. The positions have been surrounded, and my son was killed in that place. They told him that they were surrounded, that they had to get out of there, but he did not leave, he said ‘I will not leave the position’,” she said, noting that her son is buried in Yerablur. Sarushen had 13 victims. Another two people were killed in the explosion of the gasoline warehouse.
Mrs. Alisa is now in Armenia with her family. She does not have a permanent address. She temporarily lives at the house of a relative, her family lives somewhere else. They are looking for an apartment for rent, but they cannot find it because of the prices. “I had a shop in Sarushen, I kept chickens and pigs, we could live there. Now they have given me money for the house rent, but it is not enough. I am not working, they are not giving me a pension, I don’t know what I will do.”
Narek Kirakosyan is a journalist, works on the principle of "a person is an absolute value".