By Rashid Shirinov
Armenia marked the anniversary of national armed forces on January 28 without a holiday spirit, and this is not surprising.
Every father should be proud of the fact that his son is serving in his homeland's armed forces, but this is not about Armenia. The reasons for this are both the recent dishonorable history of the Armenian army and the terrible service conditions in today's Armenian military units.
The most horrible example of the Armenian army's vandalism is the genocide committed on February 26, 1992, in the Azerbaijani town of Khojaly in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. A total of 613 of 3,000 Azerbaijanis, who were in Khojaly at the moment of the Armenian attack, were killed, including 106 women, 63 children and 70 elders. As many as 1,275 people were captured and subjected to unprecedented torture and humiliation.
Obviously, many of today's Armenian youth are ashamed of their fathers' actions in 1990s. However, the current authorities and the armed forces of the country continue the same policy against Azerbaijan as their predecessors pursued. The Armenian army keeps targeting Azerbaijani civilians living near the frontline. The latest evidence of this is the tragic incident of summer 2017, when the Armenian armed forces deliberately shelled the Alkhanli village of Azerbaijan’s Fuzuli region and killed a two-year-old girl Zahra Guliyeva and her grandmother.
Another noteworthy fact is that the Armenian Defense Ministry illegally sends a considerable part of the conscripts to serve in the occupied lands of Azerbaijan. This, of course, grossly violates norms and principles of the international law. Therefore, many Armenian mothers periodically hold protests against sending their sons to military service in Nagorno-Karabakh and other occupied lands.
At the same time, they protest against terrible conditions for Armenian soldiers. Bullying, violence, hazing and constant humiliation of human dignity are blooming in the Armenian military units. Therefore, majority of Armenians perceive their army as the place of serving punishment. It has already killed hundreds of young lives and not at the battlefield. Moreover, the level of the personnel’s training is very low, since the soldiers often cannot handle their weapons, which causes a considerable number of deaths.
For instance, Armenian media have recently reported about the death of a serviceman Hovsep Grigoryan, who was shot by a fellow soldier. He died only because the latter could not handle his weapon and accidentally fired during its reload.
In connection with the Army Day, Armenian media also recalled the 20-year-old soldier Abas Sloyan, who died half a year ago. The official data says that serving in the city of Armavir, he arbitrarily left his military unit on August 13. A day later, he was found hanged in a barn. All this happened a few days after Sloyan’s military oath. Until now, his parents do not know what happened to their son on that day.
Abas’ mother says that he would never commit suicide. There were many rumors about this death, saying, for instance, that the soldier killed himself because of the parents’ divorce or large debts of the family.
“This is not true. They [investigators] cannot establish the cause and come to question us. They take away and bring back my son and daughter and say “it is your fault,” the woman complains to Armenian media.
She says she is not going to let her second son join the Armenian army.
“When they find the guilty and catch them, I will let my son go. If not, I will not send my child to the army,” she says.
The anxiety of the Armenian mother is understandable. The report, recently prepared by the Peace Dialogue organization, shows that there were 56 cases of murders, 69 suicides, 90 deaths by accident, 39 due to health problems, 16 because of violation of safety rules in the Armenian army over 2010-2017, while 9 deaths occurred due to inaction of commanders and negligence. The Peace Dialogue employees have still not been able to establish the causes of deaths of 17 other soldiers.
More than two decades ago, the Armenian army shed the blood of thousands of Azerbaijanis, including women, children and elderly, and today this army kills its own citizens. Therefore, it is no wonder that the ordinary Armenian population do not want to celebrate the Army Day. There is nothing to be proud of, since the Armenian army is not the valiant one.
Rashid Shirinov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @RashidShirinov
Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz