Human Rights Violations in the Armenian Army Continue

Tigran Hambardzumyan

BY NAZELI AVAGYAN

Armenian government has yet to hold its own military officers accountable for the deaths of its innocent soldiers in the Armed Forces. 19-year-old Tigran Hambardzumyan, who was brutally murdered in the Military Unit of Kapan, on June 29 2011, is just one example of a human rights abuse which has gone without any adequate actions to arrest those responsible for such an atrocious crime. Officials are treating Tigran’s death as a suicide, but his parents do not believe their son could commit suicide. In fact, they are certain that Tigran was murdered. According to studies conducted by HCA-Vanadzor, Tigran’s death is the 13th case in the armed forces since the beginning of 2011.

According to Arthur Sakunts, head of the Vanadzor-based Office of the Helsinki Civil Assembly, there have been 20 death reports in the Armenian armed forces this year. Based on reports from Human Rights Watch, only one case has been properly investigated—the case of 18-year old Agassi Abrahamyan, who was beaten to death in August of this year. As a result of investigations, officers were arrested from the military base of Yegnikner, which is based in Nagorno-Kharabakh. A week before Agassi’s death, 19-year-old Vardan Sevyan was found dead in a military unit located in town Goris. Non-combat deaths continue to disappoint the nation, which suggests that actions towards the protection of human rights in the Armenian army are not backed by serious commitments. 
How many more innocent lives have to end in order for the Armenian government to realize that effective actions will be necessary for the protection of fundamental human rights? How many more cases need to be listed before the Armenian government realizes the responsibility to end such crimes? Since the military commanders are doing little to tackle human rights abuses, the answer to these questions remain unclear.

But no matter what, the parents of the deceased soldiers should be entitled for the legal right to claim for justice. Given the extend of violence in the Armenia’s armed forces, the driving force behind many of the claims has been, to protect or restore human dignity and the worth of an innocent human person. After all, there is no more fundamental right than the right to life.

Sovereignty and independence did not license the Armenian government to do as state authorities wished, but was meant to create at least, minimal human rights standards necessary for a well functioning and respected state. Today, a national focus remains necessary to put an end to violent crimes committed in the armed forces. Armenia’s government and military officials need to take on responsibility and punish violators of human rights. The failure to end violent crimes against soldiers in the Armenian armed forces will have a negative impact for future violators of human rights.

To this day the Armenian government struggles to find ways of working for human rights in meaningful ways. Although public protests by the parents of the deceased soldiers and human rights groups have been growing rapidly, short-term improvements of human rights conditions in the army have been rare to nonexistent. Human rights violations continue to occur and little effort is made to improve human rights conditions in Armenia. The Armenian government has a long way to go to achieve a balanced and systematic record concerning the protection of human rights.

Certain initiatives need to be designed and human rights instruments need to be developed by the Armenian government to help protect human rights. One important change that needs to be considered is for the Armenian government to begin examining private complaints more seriously. The Sarkisian administration should devote more time and attention to help implement efforts to monitor and improve state behavior pertaining to human rights in the military units. However, if the Armenian government continues to believe that most of the non-combat deaths in the military are suicide, then any recommendation put forth is unlikely to change government policy towards the military in the short term. Any effort to improve state behavior relating to human rights is a long-term project.

The Armenian government and military officials should not be there to create fear among Armenian citizens; rather they should be there to create an environment where soldiers are willing to serve their country. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Armenia today.

Tigran Hambardzumyan, Agassi Abrahamyan and Vardan Sevyan were not only soldiers but they were somebody’s son, brother, and friend, who did not deserve to be victims of such horrific crimes.

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10 Comments

  1. Armanen said:

    While any abuse of soldiers is wrong, these types of things occur in armed forces across the world, including the US. To sensationalize this and treat it as if this is a problem prevalent in the Armenian military has is short-sighted at best, and self-defeating at worst.

  2. Sylva-MD-Poetry said:

    Do those killers have Seljuk Genes …?
    It should be vanished from our blood
    Work hard
    Why there is no comments on this site…?
    On this site…
    We should unite
    Why these young boys were killed
    Where is the Human’s right
    Awake…
    Those are our enemies…As well
    Please write something
    Don’t forget…

    Sylva

  3. Edward Demian said:

    Military training suicide incidents are not all that uncommon. My experience in a US training battalion in the late sixties (during the Viet Nam war), in a 200+ unit there was at least one suicide attempt. War time training is tough. It has to be. There is no room or time for coddling, for growing up. Most of these kids are just children taken away from the love and nurturing of their families, and overnight, have to be wrought, into able efficient, obedient killers. Not to do so, would condemn these same kids to useless certain death on the battlefield. I imagine that the Armenian Army is no less tough than the the US Army, and that as sad as each training death is, to the family, friends, to the nation and its gene pool, blaming the tough Officers and non commissioned officers of the Armenian Army, is not the total answer. These men have seen combat and its horrors, and they understand, that weakness means death, non conformity can mean failure. These men endure long hours, short pay, and many other privations. Demoralizing this cadre of dedicated leaders would be disastrous. Setting up a cadre of psychiatrists, and behavior modification, drug abuse, alcohol abuse treatment facilities will help but expensive. However, while if all those forward looking measures were to be taken, it would surely reduce the incident rate, but not eliminate it .altogether.

    • Kevork Topalian said:

      I think mr. Demian has the wrong idea of strength and bravery. Whoever has no self control in high-pressure circumstances is actually weak, a wimp. And a criminal within an army is a measure of the weakness of it. That is why authorities should seriously look into these exceptional cases: their actual origin is cowardness, and as we know, one rotten apple spoils the bunch.

  4. chris said:

    I DO AGREE WITH EDWARD , & AGREE SYLVA .
    you could not train people & let the weak die or kill him self , if he is not efficient & well trained as the army wish they should discharge him ,& let him live his life .as sylva said we need to respect each other no body is above the low leaders should obay the low every one should follow the low . remember every armenian is important to us.& we need to multiply , our problem always been that we did not multiply enough , more people bigger economy . stronger country .

  5. Gev said:

    This article is really impressive. I do agree with the author that the Armenian government needs to take action towards protecting the lives of its soldiers.

  6. Avetis said:

    I have to in all honesty say that these types of incidents are being politically exploited by Washington-based organizations and activists against Armenia. We all know that Armenia has sociopolitical problems, as do all nation’s on God’s earth. This stuff has gone way beyond merely fighting corruption or abuse. These types of stories are in fact being used as part of the active information war against Armenia. Shock and awe articles like this are meant to bring out the worst in us. Imperial interests are using various subversive individuals and agencies to spread anger, hopelessness and despair throughout Armenian society. Naturally, their excuse is always to raise “awareness” or “fight corruption”. But the result is always the further alienation of an already alienated diaspora. Their intent is to break the Armenian spirit, after which they will break the Armenian nation. Armenia is going through natural growing pains. When addressing these matters Armenian activists need to keep the fight in Armenia, they need to keep the fight against individuals (not the government) and they need to keep the fight free of individuals and organizations connected to the political West. In other words, fight the thugs in Armenia without fighting for the thugs in Washington.

  7. HAYKUHI POGHOSYAN said:

    This topic was very touching & unfortunately the ugly reality. yes, with sadness in my heart I have to admit that what we have today is not a goverment, instead of we have bunch of businessmen who appeared in parliament only for their personal interests.
    I am extremely patriotic person, but even with all fo this said, I will do my best to make sure my nephews, my son won`t even enroll in Armenian army, as no-one knows if they will be killed there by our armenians or not. Isn`t that sad? & to have better idea about Armenian government- please watch the video- it is the full reflation of our government. Please watch. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZenC9A4hnQk
    Thank You Nazeli Avagyan

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