“I lived in Artsakh, in the village of Aygestan, for 34 years. September 26 was the last day,” says Vilen Sarukhanyan, who is now trying to get back on his feet in Armenia with his small family.

The 34-year-old young man from the village of Aygestan, Askeran region of NK, was forcibly displaced on September 19, 2023, as a result of an Azerbaijani attack, and went through the hard and difficult path of migration with his mother and his wife with two young children.

“On September 14, we got off our positions, for a shift: we were supposed to go on duty 7 days later, on September 21. In the afternoon of the 18th, our defense army gave us number one warning. Then the military operations of the 19th began. Everyone tried to take care of their children and families. It was an unbearable situation. We tried to place the elderly people and children in basements. We heard that the Martuni region was in a blockade, that the situation was hopeless,” Vilen told Forrights.am.

On September 20, before the cessation of hostilities, the Azerbaijani side bombed the intelligence battalion stationed in their village, Aygestan.

“There was absolutely no connection, we did not receive any official information; we were in an information blockade. And suddenly news spread that we, the whole nation, should be displaced. We received that news on September 22. Until the last moment, I did not imagine that the deportation decision would be made. Desperation, uncertainty, pain. everything got mixed up and we still don’t understand what happened and why it happened that way,” says the young man from Artsakh.

Villen says that he left the graves of his brothers and nephew in Artsakh. He especially remembers his nephew, Hayk Grigoryan, who is one of the victims of the 44-Day War. “He was killed in the Varanda area, buried in Yerablur in Armenia, but his parents were very upset because they could not travel to Armenia every time to visit their son’s grave, so we decided to move him from Yerevan to NK. But, in fact, it was in vain; we were displaced from Artsakh, and the child [his grave] remained there.”

Vilen is a member of the Artsakh national dance “We are our mountains” and sings beautifully. He says that his parents were consistent for him to get a musical education: “Since childhood, I sang at school events, my mother realized that I had talent, and my parents decided that I should study at a music school.”

Forrights.am wrote about the ensemble earlier. This small group of singers is trying to find patrons and be able to keep singing and dancing in the Artsakh dialect in Yerevan.

“I would not like to appear in this situation. We left everything in Artsakh: our home, our whole life, memories. To say that I was rich and have left many things, would not be true. I left a house that was comfortable for my little family. I left my homeland, I left my land, I left my brothers. I left my childhood and my best years there lived until September 19,” says Vilen Sarukhanyan.

Hasmik Hambardzumyan

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