shocked (read also here) by learning of yet another "suicide" in the army. Artak Nazaryan, contract service officer/commander in Armenia’s Tavush region, brother of local journalist Tsovinar (currently studying in the US), died of what the Ministry of Defense wants us to believe a “suicide”. A Facebook group was set up demanding the truth to this story Չի´ կարելի լռել.
It was shocking... not because it was the first such incident. There has been quite a few similar cases over the past years (and not only in the army), and relatives of those died regularly protest in front of the government building demanding justice for what they believe a cover-up of abuse and ill treatment in the Armenian army.
It was shocking... not only because he was a brother of journalist, friend of many Facebook users, although this fact certainly added a very personal touch to the tragedy.
It was shocking... because IT IS SHOCKING. Any single “suicide” case in the army is shocking.
Mother and relatives mentioned of “tensions” they lately noticed and that Artak did not fit in.
“Mom, I want to be a different commander for soldiers. I do not want to be like them”. He was considered a “weak commander” because “he did not beat up soldiers”.
Reports (via Lragir, + picture above) indicate on traces of physical violence found during the autopsy. Reports suggest they were left six hours before Artak Nazaryan’s death. The Ministry of Defense officials did not offer immediate condolences. Instead, they were quick to present this case as a “suicide” which reminds a very recent similar attempt by the Armenia police chief. (+ Forced suicide is a murder)
How long this culture of abuse and ill-treatment will continue in the Armenian army?
Below are few similarly shocking cases of “suicide” in the Armenian army from the archives of Helsinki Association (2007 reports, Armenia and Karabakh). Apparently, nothing much has since changed.
This should be a wake-up call for Armenia Defense Minister and the authorities to clean up this horrific and disgraceful state of affairs still prevalent in the army. In fact, they should have acted yesterday. Time is running out.
[language below as in original]
Investigator to the case – It’s a murder for 99 percent
On 07 July 2007 Hovhannes Meltonyan, a soldier performing his compulsory military service in No. 27229 military unit of the Defense Ministry of Armenia, was killed. According to an official version, unable to endure beatings and scoffing by his co-servicemen, he entered the armory-room of the company shot himself by the machine-gun assigned to him.
However, both the parents of H. Meltonyan and his representatives claim that the official version is false and groundless. Both the facts and the reliable statements made by the injured party show that H. Meltonyan was killed by three co-servicemen. This is stated orally by prosecutors belonging to military prosecutor office, who, still insist on the version they find suitable – SUICIDE. According to the medical examiner’s report, traces of beatings and torture were found on the body of the deceased. Seven days after the incident, the father of the killed solider went to the prosecution office and evidenced as soldiers who were witnesses to the case of his son’s death, were tortured and intimidated. This allows us to come to a conclusion that the investigation needs “good evidence” to this case.
Discontinue or not?
On 10 August 2005 at 06:45 the corpse of Private Robert Hovhannisyan, an Armenian national, was found in one of the military posts of the artillery battalion belonging to the No. 36534 military unit of the Defense Ministry of Armenia (Nagorno-Karabakh Republic), with firearm wound in the head. According to the medical examiner’s report, the corpse bore many traces of torture. A. Krkyasharyan, an investigator to the case, brought charges against several persons by adopting the version of suicide. However, unable to reason his false approach to the incident, he suspended the case due to the impossibility to find those who committed the crime.
It is clear that the investigator is not willing to uncover the murder. In April 2007 the injured party applied to Prosecutor General of Armenia with a request to consult with the case-file. Right after the request was submitted, the military prosecutor cancelled the suspension order and remitted the case to an additional investigation. The injured party filed a challenge against the investigator in charge of the case and the other day received quite an unexpected reply – the case has been suspended once more.
Suicide is the only way out
From the information that we possess and the statements made by G. Mikayelyan it can be drawn that the attempted suicide was prompted by a number of senior military officers of the military unit, who had regularly beaten, abused and demeaned the soldier. Some time after the incident they kept G. Mikayelyan in the military unit without medical aid hoping that he would die and never tell the truth. Besides these facts, it becomes evident from the way the investigation is carried out that the investigation is not concerned to conduct an impartial investigation and to find those guilty.
Private Arsen Simonyan commited suicide by shooting himself 8 times
Arsen Simonyan, an Armenian national who was performing his military service in N.36534 military unit of the Defense Ministry of Armenia (Republic of Nagorno Karabakh) died on 7 July 2005. Officials state that he committed suicide. Investigation says A. Simonyan’s “suicide” was prompted by constant abuses he was subjected to by his co-servicemen, namely Junior Sergeant M. Mkhitaryan and Sergeant G. Barseghyan.
Eight cartridge cases were found in the area where the incident took place. Both witnesses and accused alleged during the trial that the prosecution investigators obtained evidence under torture. Soldiers that happened to serve with the late A. Simonyan in the same military platoon were taken to the Military Prosecution Office of Hadrut Region of Nagorno Karabakh Republic where they were kept for 20 days. During that time the investigation was “getting” necessary evidence from them in the presence of G. Mailyan, Commander of the battalion they all belonged to.