By Abdul Kerimkhanov
Armenia is experiencing problems in drafting soldiers to the army and in maintaining military personnel in the army.
Many Armenian men are leaving the country due to poverty and lack of economic prospects. Frustrated Armenian young people abandon their military duties and flee abroad to make a living in countries like Russia. In order to somehow influence the decision of conscripts to leave the country, the Armenian government even set up a special group, which would ensure that the Armenian conscripts return to their homeland, join military service and avoid criminal prosecution. However, despite all legal concessions, potential Armenian soldiers refused to return.
There is also a large number of soldiers deserting military units. The reason is simple – high mortality among soldiers, dire conditions and arbitrariness in the army.
Generally, young Armenians flee military units due to hazing among soldiers and because of the bullying of officers.
However, rather than facing the problems and finding a solution to it, the Armenian authorities are using various excuses to justify growing desertion rate in the army. Recently, there has been tendency in Armenia to brand deserters as sexual minorities.
Head of the “Journalists for Human Rights” NGO Zhanna Aleksanyan has spoken about a case involving a soldier who deserted the army and was branded as a member of sexual minority by Chief of Armenia’s Military Police Artur Baghdasaryan and Defense Ministry spokesperson Artsrun Hovhannisyan.
She said the country's military elite spins falsehoods about this soldier who left the military unit in the city of Kapan, Armenia’s Syunik region, but was later found.
Aleksanyan denied reports that the unnamed soldier was a representative of sexual minority group. She stressed that the reason for leaving the military unit was humiliation and violence that the soldier had endured.
Instead of transferring the serviceman to another unit and punishing the offenders, Armenian military authorities slandered the soldier who had been abused.
Thus, it is clear what awaits an Armenian soldier who left his military unit. He will be branded as homosexual. Given the homophobic tendencies prevalent in the region, one can assume what will await the allegedly homosexual deserter upon the return to a civilian life.
It’s worth mentioning that the Armenian authorities have the tendency to brand unwanted person under any category that suits their own interests. For instance, the military leadership described as “crazy” an Armenian soldier who fell in Azerbaijani captivity.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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