“The house is still nothing. The human loss was great: my husband was killed, my brother was killed, my cousin was killed, my sister’s husband died in an explosion, and the brother-in-law, 15-year-old, also was killed…” said a 30-year-old displaced woman from Sarushen village, Askeran region of Artsakh.

Karine’s husband is Valery Gasparyan, an employee of the Artsakh Rescue Service, who was killed in the positions. He was the father of three minor children. He has participated in both the 4-Day and 44-Day wars.

“My husband was killed on the 19th. When the war started, he went to the positions, and the contact with hima was lost. There was no communication; it was impossible to find out what was happening, where my husband was, in what condition. We had run away through the forests to another village, crossed 10 km with women and children… we stayed there until three in the morning, then we were transferred to the Russians [Russian peacekeepers]. Then when our village head went, I called and asked him what news there was from my husband. He said we couldn’t get in touch. They called in two days and said that the Red Cross should go to our village with the Russians to retrieve the bodies. They called, they said they were bringing him… he was dead,” says the woman.

According to her, she was later told that the incident happened when Valery tried to help his friend. “The friend shouted ‘help, help’, he got down to save his friend and he was shot. His friend also died from a gunshot wound to the chest.”

The wife of the killed rescuer says that at first there was a conversation that her husband’s body should be left in Artsakh, but later they said that it could be moved to Armenia.

“At one point they said that we have to bury him in Artsakh, we can’t bring him with us; then they said that there is an option to move him to Yerablur in Yerevan. I agreed and now my husband is in Yerablur.”

Karine now lives in Oshakan village of Aragatsotn region with nine female family members and children. She says that the children know what happened to their father. “My youngest child is 8 years old, my oldest is 12, my middle child is 10.”

Valery’s mother also lives with them. The woman does not like to talk. On the balcony, lost in thoughts, she bakes jingyal bread [bread with herbs].

Ani Gevorgyan

Ani Gevorgyan is a journalist, photographer, and the winner of the Freedom of Speech Award. She has participated in photo exhibitions at the UN headquarters (New York) and the Geneva office, the Palace of Europe (Strasbourg), Paris, Rome, Berlin, Vienna and elsewhere.

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