“I am a native of Karabakh, a 58-year-old native of Karabakh, I have not gone anywhere from there, my permanent place of residence was Stepanakert, and now…” says Marieta Yepremyan, who is one of the many Artsakh residents who is still not considered a forcibly displaced person.

“I am from Karmir Shuka, Martuni region of Artsakh, my parents moved to Stepanakert in 1978 and I lived in Stepanakert until the recent events. I got married there and had three children. My daughter’s husband was killed on the very first day of the 44-Day War. Their four children were left without a father. He worked as a driver in the army,” says the woman, noting that her deceased son-in-law was 37-year-old Khoren Khachatryan, whose grave remains in Artsakh.

The woman from Artsakh remembers that, during the 44-Day War, they came to Armenia with their families and children, but then they returned to restore the damaged houses.

“We started working again, with difficulty, but we were trying. My youngest daughter studied at the Vazgen Sargsyan Military Institute for 4 years, but then she decided to become a lawyer, got married, and had a child. In December 2022, she asked me to go and babysit so that she could prepare for the exams. I came to Yerevan to take care of the child, after a few days the road to Artsakh was closed… We waited for one week, two weeks. After a month and a half, I went to Goris, Tegh village, where we had acquaintances. I thought: tomorrow, the next day, the road will open, I will reach Stepanakert, my home. I had no money, no clothes, no personal belongings, nothing with me. It’s been like that for almost a year. Although the people of the village, the village head treated me very well, but it was difficult to live. I was registered in the village as a person temporarily residing there. However, we did not recieve any aid. They said: ‘You are not an emigrant, you are not from Hadrut, you are not from Lachin: Stepanakert is there, it is free, it is not under occupation’.”

As soon as she received the news of the new war on September 19, the woman tried to contact her children living in NK, but it was not possible to do so for a week.

“I didn’t hear anything from my children, my grandchildren, there was no contact. They were under siege, we didn’t hear from them for a week, there was no contact with them, there was no electricity, there was no internet. After a week, the children called and said that they were passing by Tegh village. They came, we hugged, talked briefly and they continued on their way. I was also left in limbo. A few days later, I fell and broke my leg while coming home from the store. As a result of that, I was deprived of the opportunity to find at least any job, to work.”

After breaking her leg, Marieta Yepremyan faced new problems, “Goris hospital did not accept me: they said you have to pay money, a complicated operation has to be done, and you don’t have any status. The doctors just put a cast on me, put me in a taxi, said goodbye. Then the chief doctor of the hospital turned to the Red Cross, Ministry of Social Affairs, because I couldn’t move, and there was no one next to me. They presented that there is such a patient, she is from Artsakh. From those places they said that I was not in the blockade, was not forcibly displaced, they cannot provide me any support. They also took me out of the hospital and sent me home, and somehow, with suffering, I got home alone. My daughter, Irina, came after me. She took me to Masis hospital with her means. They performed an operation on me, but another one has to be done again.”

Mrs. Marieta says that she applied to all state structures, but in vain. “They don’t help me at all: everyone says you are not forcibly displaced. It turns out that I have no legal rights, I am deprived of everything. They don’t even provide psychological support. But how can it be? Against my will, I lived on someone else’s mercy, on someone else’s bread for a year. And now I am neither a pensioner, nor a beneficiary, nor can I receive any support due to illness? Some people have decided that I and many people from Artsakh like me do not need support. How so?”

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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