Khachatryan Razmik. From the city of Askeran. From militia, volunteered for One-Day War. He died on September 19, in a combat position. He was buried today, October 20, in Yerablur. It took a month for Razmik’s relics to be buried.

“What’s the difference, one day or 44 days? A fight is a fight: it is for the defense of the motherland,” says his brother, Harut Khachatryan.

There were 10 people in the 414th position of Askeran. The soldier was the machine gunner, he was operating a PK machine gun. “We call that weapon the ‘position’s father’. It is a very powerful weapon. They had three wounded. Five out of 10 people moved the wounded, my brother and his assistant stayed. They hit the assistant. He faught all alone. About 100 people entered from each side. There was an attack from three sides. My brother held both the front and the left side. It was the position near the Askerani river, have you heard of it? The Turks [Azeris] could not enter the position for a long time. He and his assistant died from a mortar,” says Harut proudly.

He is 21 years old. He has aged in the last month. “I am a 50-year-old man at heart,” he says.

Before being buried, the remains of Razmik Khachatryan traveled from the 414 battle position of Askeran through the morgues of different cities, finally reaching the city of Masis in Armenia. First, the hero’s body had remained in an open field: it was not possible to approach the body for several days. They were able to remove the bodies only 5-6 days later, during the search operations on September 24-25.

The soldier’s body was put in a refrigerated car from Stepanakert’s mortuary and taken to Goris along with other corpses. But on September 25, there was an explosion at the gasoline warehouse on the Stepanakert-Askera highway, and the victims of the explosion were brought to the Goris morgue.

They had to remove the bodies of Razmik Khachatryan and other boys from Goris and take to different cities. When the Khachatryans finally learned about the results of the DNA examination, Razmik’s body was in Gyumri. Harut went to Gyumri with his older brother and brought Razmik’s body to Masis. He is happy that at least he can visit his brother in Yerablur cemeteery, put flowers to his grave. Many people are deprived of that opportunity.

The family waited a long time for the conclusion of the identification: almost a month.

Harut Khachatryan believes that the fault lies with the investigator.

“We were convinced for a long time that my brother’s body has not been removed yet. We went to Yerevan investigation to ask if the body was removed or not. The investigator said, ‘I will call you in two days when the answer comes’. There were about 100 papers on front of the investigator. My older brother was sitting in front at that time. By chance, he looked at the topmost paper and saw that my phone number was written in one corner. He said, ‘It looks like this is ours’.

That’s when the investigator looked and saw my brother’s conclusion. He said he was soory; he didn’t notice. It has been two days, the paper was in front of him, he did not even see it. He was a military investigator. Perhaps, whenever he was free, he would call and say ‘come and get your paper’. If my brother hadn’t noticed, God knows when I would have been told,” says Harut, noting that, of course, there are good investigators, but this one… How could he do that?

The death of a soldier is not the only tragedy that has happened to the family in the last month. On September 30, Harut and his relatives buried 10-year-old Mikayel Ghazaryan and eight-year-old Nver Ghazaryan in the city cemetery of Masis, who were killed in the Sarnaghbyur village of Askeran.

“They were my brother’s children. I took them to Stepanakert, from there, I took the children to Masis, I couldn’t climb the post, be with my brother, I was with the child. We were hearing terrible things: that they cut the children’s necks… But there was nothing like that: the children died from shrapnels,” Harut recalls. He talks about the dead children as if they were alive: “I took the children to Goris, I took the children to Masis, the children are in Masis now.

He says that he personally did not see atrocities in Askeran. But comparing the events of September with the 44-Day War, one big difference was noticed. At that time, they killed, butchered, and captured soldiers. But now, civilians were also targeted.

“The girls were raped in the villages; the children were tortured. I haven’t seen it, but people are talking about it. There was an old woman in one of the villages of Martakert. On the 18th of the month, the Azerbaijanis caught that woman, took her to their position, beat her and said, ‘Do you have a grandson or a son who is serving [in the army]?’ The woman said no, I don’t have any. Then they called their commander and asked, what should we do? The commander said that if she does not have a serving child, let her go, but if you see a soldiers, buthcher them. That woman knew Turkish, she told this later. That is what they were doing.”

The Khachatryan family is now in Masis, in a summer house serving as a temporary home. Water and gas stove are outside the house. The food is being prepared outside. The family of seven has one bed and one sofa, but they don’t complain. They brought 3-4 mattresses from Askeran. Several people are sleeping on the ground. People gave them a washing machine, some things. The Red Cross helped once, giving food and hygiene items. Three out of seven people received one-time aid in the form of 100,000 drams [about $250]. The others did not receive their 100,000 drams yet. The state has done noting else for the family.

Syuzan Simonyan

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