60-year-old Kamo Arakelyan from Stepanakert, NK was one of the actors of the Drama Theater named after V.  Papazyan. Now he is bedridden, one of his kidneys does not work after many operations, tubes are hanging from his body, his legs are swollen, he cannot walk.

“I was employed at the Stepanakert theater after serving in the Soviet army in 1985. At first, I was a novice actor, then I became a second-rate actor. I also had classes of theater history and foreign literature, I taught,” says Kamo Arakelyan while introducing himself to Forrights.am.

The photographs of his youth suggest that Kamo was a handsom, nice lokking man with a stern look. First, the painful days of the blockade of Artsakh, and then the displacement from September 19, 2023, have worn Kamo down. His black eyes, now sunken, are all tht remain from the past, and they smile once in a while when remembering the episodes of the past.

Kamo Arakelyan is the only Artsakh citizen who did not fall into the flow of displacement and spent 13 days alone at home on Hamo Sahyan Street in Stepanakert. “I was thinking: we will come back one day, what should I go?” says Kamo. He was fed with apples, nuts from the trees in the yard, and water. “I ate them for 13 days; it was very tasty.”

At first, he heard the sounds of gunshots, noises from a plane. He came out the house; the neighbor said that the fight had started and directed him to go to the center where there were cars that evacuated the citizens. However, Kamo did not go. He thought that they would take him to Yerevan and then bring back, as happened in 2020, and he did not submit to the flow of deportation. When everything was over, he came out of the house and saw Azerbaijanis in police uniforms on the street. He was taken away in an ambulance. Kamo Arakelyan says that the Azerbaijanis did not harm him, but his relatives claim the opposite: they subjected him to violence, damaged his internal organs, as a result of which he had to undergo an operation in the Stepanakert hospital. Kamo remembers the operation, but does not say why it was necessary. “I was looking at the clock; the Azerbaijani doctor operated in 55 minutes.”

Kamo’s sister, Yelena Arakelyan, says that her brother has a psychological problem: he thinks that if he talks about the atrocities of Azerbaijanis, they will come after him. But the fact that the brother was violently abused was also documented by other people. She was the initiator of her brother’s transfer to Armenia: she appealed to the International Organization of the Red Cross, hinted at the possible location of her brother and requested to transfer him to Armenia. If the transfer was delayed for a few more days, Yelena says, her brother would have become a citizen of Azerbaijan and would have stayed there. “If he stayed for a couple of more days, he would become a Turk. He is my brother, he is my blood, he is my family; how could I leave him alone?” says Yelena.

Kamo’s sister has health problems herself. She has undergone surgery, is suffering from diabetes. They live in difficult social conditions. They do not manage to cover the costs of treating and caring for bedridden Kamo Arakelyan. They settled in a narrow and damp apartment on the outskirts of Yerevan, where it is cold in the evenings and they have to turn on the heater.

Yelena’s husband is a former soldier, he recently got a job in a construction organization, but the salary is still not enough. He is trying to ease the problem of buying medicines with the support of 40+10 thousand drams from the state, but they still cannot make ends meet, and, in addition, getting that money causes problems, because Kamo can’t get the money on his own. He has not yet received a disability certificate, therefore he cannot receive a pension. “Anyway, we are glad that he didn’t stay there and we managed to bring him,” says Kamo’s sister.

Hasmik Hambardzumyan

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