Relatives of the soldiers who perished in the army and rights defenders hold a protest action in front of the Armenian government. Yerevan, September 8, 2011

09 September 2011, 23:10

Human rights activists continue protesting against non-combat losses in Armenian Army


Protest rallies against the non-combat losses in the Armenian Army will be continued until the objective results of investigation into the death of soldiers are available. This was reported by Arthur Sakunts, Chairman of the Vanadzor Office of the Helsinki Civil Assembly, who participated in the march "Army in black" held on September 8.

Earlier, the "Caucasian Knot" reported that at the protest rally parents of soldiers perished in peacetime, NGOs' representatives and human rights activists demanded to solve the crimes in the army and punish the perpetrators.

According to the human rights activist, the rally was aimed to urge solution of crimes in the army and state system solutions of existing problems. In particular, he pointed to the need to operate a mechanism to ensure responsibility in the Armed Forces. Furthermore, according to Arthur Sakunts, the eradication of corruption in the army should be an important step to minimize crimes. "It's necessary that the top-ranking officers, instead of being in business, would pay more attention to the military service. It's important to root out nepotism, since it turns out that officers with criminal records are in the army again," says Arthur Sakunts. According to him, the army should become transparent.

According to Grair Karapetyan, Chairman of the Permanent Committee on Defence, National Security and Internal Affairs of the National Assembly of Armenia, instead of the origin laws, "street and thief orders" rule in the Armenian Armed Forces. Commenting on the cases of deaths in the army, MP expressed his regret that the reforms were proceeding slowly and spoke of the necessity to take radical steps. According to Grair Karapetyan, the parliamentary committee led by him intends to put amendments to the law on conscription to the army on the legislative level. He believes that conscription should take into account skills, knowledge and education of a conscript. Certain reforms are planned to be in regard to medical examination of conscripts in order to eliminate or minimize the cases of conscription of young men with health problems.

Stepan Safaryan, the head of the oppositional faction "Heritage of the National Assembly, told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent that the parliament had several discussions of problems relating to the army; however, unfortunately, the tradition of consistent tracking and discussing the incidents that took place in the army had not been continued.

"The Parliament should have controlled the way in which the investigatory bodies of the Ministry of Defence and the officers of the Military Prosecutor's Office, who were present at the discussions, would fulfil their promises to solve crimes. At present, we see how an unpunished crime breeds another one. From my conversations with Seiran Oganyan, Defence Minister, I had the impression that the Ministry of Defence was powerless to change anything. The fact is that for many years Military Prosecutor's Office was busy with concealment of numerous crimes in the army, and now we see the consequences of this policy," stated Stepan Safaryan.

According to Mikael Arutyunyan, Chief Military Inspector of Armenia, the key to reducing tragic incidents is in good discipline. "The command staff should conduct serious work with the soldiers," he has emphasized.

In his turn, speaking of the deaths of soldiers in the army, Major General Vladimir Gasparyan, Deputy Defence Minister, stated: "I bear moral responsibility for all this; however, I'm not going to resign, since I work well."

Karen Avagyan, deputy of the National Assembly from the ruling Republican Party of Armenia, believes that the existing army problems are being radicalized, and this is unacceptable.

Siranush Yesayan, the representative of the public initiative "Let us not be silent" believes that crimes in the Armenian Army are hidden behind the version of suicide.

"Right now, the vast majority of the official explanations on the murders in the army are based on the version of suicide or incitement to suicide. Meanwhile, it's even worse, since healthy young men are conscripted to the army and it turns out that they are incited to suicide there. I myself don't believe this version, for all these cases in the army and investigations into these facts indicate that everything is being done to conceal crimes. I believe that more people should take part in such actions. I'm convinced that people shouldn't stay indifferent," told Siranush Yesayan to the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent.

According to Asmik Tachyan, the participant of the protest rally, the society should show greater activity and try to solve those incidents that happen in the army. "The facts that happen bear a relation to all of us, and indifference is unacceptable." According to her, Defence Minister Seiran Oganyan and President Serzh Sargsyan bear the primary responsibility for the situation in the army.

Nana Mouradyan, mother of the regular soldier Valery Mouradyan, who died in spring of 2010 in a military unit of Nagorno-Karabakh, told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent that, according to the official version on the death of her son, Valery had committed suicide. Meanwhile, forensic examination revealed traces of violence on his body and bruises from someone's fingers on his hands.

"It was a gang killing, he was first strangled and then hung up," states Nana Mouradyan. "Otherwise, how can we explain the traces of violence and the fact that Valery's body was found hanging from the horizontal bar with his legs bent? How could he hang himself, if the height of the horizontal bar was much lower than his height? Why all our children commit suicide, what is going on in this army?"

According to Nana Muradyan, that several before his death her son told her that he became an involuntary witness to theft in the military unit. Theft participants said that they would give money if Valery promised to be silent; and he answered that he would not interfere in anything and that he had not seen or heard anything. However, in four days after this conversation the body of young man was found hanged on the horizontal bar.

"We demand to solve the murders. Every day, news on death of a soldier comes. Everybody, starting from investigators and ending with prosecutors, cash in on the death of our children, since a criminal case is a way of squeezing money," stated Nana Mouradyan.

Anait Mkrtchyan, mother of the murdered soldier Araik Avetisyan, told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent that the battalion commander, letting her son on vacation, requested to bring vodka and 100 US dollars after the vacation. Parents sent with their son only alcoholic beverage, since they had no money.

"My son was killed by the battalion commander on the first day after his returning from vacation. When asked by the commander why he had brought not all demanded, my son replied that the parents had no money. The battalion commander first hit Araik twice with the pistol grip and then shot at him. I state this unjustified, witnesses were present at this, and during the trial they didn't give up their evidences that my son was murdered by the battalion commander. However, the witnesses were greatly pressed, and they were forced to move to Russia," states Anait Mkrtchyan.


Author: Lilit Ovanisyan; Source: CK correspondent

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