By Gayane Muradyan
YEREVAN — The first installment of aid from the Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA) of the US and Canada have been distributed to the families of soldiers who lost their lives heroically in the four-day April war earlier this year. I and Susanna Ghazaryan, a member of the Tekeyan Cultural Association of Armenia and candidate of the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party for the city council of Masis in the forthcoming elections, visited four families for this purpose.
The first to be visited was the family of Aghasi Asatryan, born in 1996, who was conscripted as a regular soldier from the city of Masis in Ararat province. Aghasi lived together with his parents, sister and grandmother in an old ramshackle house. His grandmother said that he did not have his own room, but that this did not bother him. Instead, he would say, “I will go to the army or I will work, and I will build a new house. I will get married.” His father related that Aghasi was a courageous boy even at a young age. He was not afraid of going to the army.
Aghasi Asatryan died on April 2 in the village of Talish. The commander using a heat-sensing scope examined the surrounding areas, and found that the enemy had assembled a large number of forces. He in turn organized the defense of the area, and thanks to the courage of the fighters, they were able to hold their positions, but not for long. They were told that it was necessary to retreat, but Aghasi remained battling and kept firing till his last cartridge. He sacrificed himself in order to save the lives of his comrades. The enemy, finding his lifeless body, still tortured it.
His father, Sarmen Asatryan, related that they presented a request to the European Court together with the judicial department of the Defense Ministry of the Republic of Armenia, in which they provided details about the torture. We saw an upper corner of the house, which was Aghasi’s corner, the various medals and certificates of thanks Aghasi had received, as well as some personal items. He died the death of a hero.
The next family we visited was that of Henrik Ghahramanyan. Just like Aghasi, he was born in 1996, and conscripted from the city of Masis. His family moved to Masis only recently. Previously they lived in Russia. They ran a modest business. They came to Armenia so that their son could perform his military service in the Armenian army. He always said that it is necessary for him to do his military service in his homeland. His mother related that they were amazed when they were told what a fierce fight their undersized son waged during the sudden attack by the enemy. Henrik died on April 2 during the military operations which took place around the outskirts of the observation posts of the Sis Company in a battle against large numbers of the enemy’s mercenary saboteurs. They caused the enemy large numbers of losses of lives, and then fell, dying the death of heroes.
The third family which we visited as that of Zhora Yesayan, who was born in 1996 and conscripted form the village of Darbnik in the province of Ararat. His younger brother is still in the army, while the youngest brother is only 14 years old.
Zhora from a young age exercised and had a physically strong body. His mother Marine said that when Zhora was going to go to the army, his family and relatives go together to bid him farewell. He said to everybody there that I will kill Turks by the hundreds, and then return to live peacefully. He was confident in his strength, and brave. He never feared anything, and wanted to serve in Karabagh.
The troops never had any fear and did not retreat even one step during the sudden attack of the enemy. They continued fighting during the fierce and unequal battles. When it became clear they had fallen into a trap, Zhora continued shooting till his last cartridge and died the death of a courageous hero. Zhora Yesayan died on April 2. His body was mutilated by the Azerbaijanis and eventually exchanged through the Red Cross on April 10. His telephone fell into the hands fo the enemy. They telephoned his parents, claiming that he was still alive, and that they were slaughtering him, but of course he had already died.
The final family we visited that day was that of Ashod Zohrabyan, born in 1991, of Ayntap village of Ararat province. He had entered into contract service in the military, for he liked the life of a soldier. He had gotten engaged to be married three months before his death, and was going to get married this autumn. Thanks to his prudent steps of military strategy, no other soldier died at his position. He went personally to supervise the most dangerous place in the post in order to spare the inexperienced soldiers. According to preliminary information, Ashot Zohrabyan received a mortal wound in the right portion of his head from a bullet fired by the enemy. His village community erected a memorial khachkar (cross-stone) in his honor, and we were present to participate in its official inauguration.
All the brave soldiers whose families were visited were posthumously awarded medals of courage by the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Mountainous Karabagh. Further reports will be forthcoming in the Mirror on the progress of the ongoing aid distribution.
Those who wish to contribute to this aid campaign may make their donations out to the Tekeyan Cultural Association, Inc. (Memo: Artsakh Fund), and send them to 755 Mount Auburn Street, Watertown, MA 02472. For more information, contact 617 924-4455 or email [email protected].
(Gayane Muradyan is a Tekeyan Cultural Association representative. This article was edited and translated from the Armenian.)