Heroes and Traitors

Maria Titizian


Tranquility, stillness, and serenity are words that no longer define our lives. They were obliterated from our collective narrative decades ago, maybe centuries ago, perhaps millennia ago. From the moment I developed the ability to formulate memories I cannot recall many instances when I was in a tranquil or serene state of mind. We always seem to be in a whirlpool of distress, in conflict with our past and struggling to confront the outrages being committed on a regular basis as we live and breathe in the present.

A recent tragedy that rocked a village, a people and a nation brought this state of existence more clearly into focus. I do not want to dwell on the circumstances of this tragedy but rather, I want to try in a very humble way to celebrate a life that was cut short but one which possessed an abundance of valor, bravery, patriotism, love and dedication.

When I read the devastating news of the passing last year of army doctor Vahe Avetyan after a vicious beating at Harsnaqar, I was thousands of miles away. I remember vividly the overwhelming nausea that gripped me when I saw the news. And as I watched hundreds of my compatriots holding a candlelight vigil for him, I thought my heart would break with sorrow for not being there to stand beside them, to express my horror at the action and convey the outrage I felt to those responsible.

The murdered mayor of Proshian Hratch Mouradian

On April 2, Hratch Mouradian, an Artsakh war hero, compatriot and friend was gunned down in broad daylight in his native village of Proshian. I was once again a world away, across the oceans in a country that is no longer my home. There are no words to describe the feeling of knowing that the life of a patriot like Hratch meant nothing to the person who shot that final, fatal bullet. As I read the harrowing news item about his murder, his wife’s image appeared before me and those of his four young children, who were now left to grow up and navigate the difficult currents of their lives without the wisdom and guidance of their father. I thought of my friends Nigol and Zabelle who lived in Proshian and who had not only developed a close bond of friendship with Hratch and his family but were among his most ardent supporters as village leader. I thought of my husband who had discovered much of Armenia and Artsakh because of Hratch. I thought of my son who after years of battling the demons of injustice all around him, finally felt the strength and understood the value of homeland because of Hratch and his friends. I thought of my daughter at whose wedding Hratch and his wife danced for hours….and my heart broke once again.

Whatever the motivation for his murder, whether it was political or personal, whether the murderer thought of all the lives that had been saved because of Hratch’s heroism during the Artsakh war, whether he cared how the lives of the villagers of Poshian had improved because of his care and benevolence, the fact is that a man who was a hero of the nation is now only a memory to all those who knew and loved him.

The image of Hratch that I will always remember is of him dressed in his army fatigues, standing in the warm living room of our friend in Goris, his feet set wide apart with his arms clasped behind him, a sparkle in his eye and a crooked smile on his face. But what will forever be entrenched in my memory is of him dancing the dance of Sassoun with his wartime friend and confidante Magich – their dance was an expression of strength and grace that moved me to tears the first time I saw them; it was the dance of their lives and shared experiences, something which only they could understand and something which defined the very essence of our nation. I am thankful to Hratch for allowing me to experience it.

I don’t want us to forget the Vahe Avetyans and the Hratch Mouradians of our world. I want us to remember that they were ordinary men who served for their country and were murdered not by the enemy but by the traitors of our nation. The continuing impunity and injustice in our country is the reason why these men and others like them are lost to us today.

I don’t know what good can come from all of this, but I am hopeful, as we all must be that the real perpetrators will be punished, that no one in our country shall be above the law, that all those who commit a crime will understand that their time will come. We need to be vigilant and we must continue to struggle to ensure that heroes enjoy the gratitude and appreciation of society and traitors no longer have a place in our world. I am confident of this because if our nation can bring forth men like Hratch, then we have much to be hopeful for.


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  1. Raffi said:

    Very well said.

    We attended Hratches burial in Proshyan, as he was laid to rest in a cemetary reserved for heroes. The thousands of people present were a testament to the type of man Hratch was.(Ironically no government officials were on hand, nor did they release a proper statement) Countless tears were shed as grown men who had evaded the enemys bullet for years tried to come to terms with the fact that an Armenian bullet did what no Azeri ever could… and later in the day and into the night, many toasts were raised in the honour of a man who dserved to live. However, non of that changes the fact that he was gunned down in cold blood in a politically motivated murder. I’ve been Armenian for far too long to believe otherwise.
    The cries and screams from his daughter on thee day of the burial are on a constant loop in my mind, and its a scene that I, or anybody else that was within earshot, will not soon forget…and we should not forget. We should use it as fuel to rage even harder and stronger against the injustice that grips our country.
    They took Hratches life, but they cant take his soul. It will continue to live inside each one of us who calls Armenia and Artsakh home…I for one know I can feel it.

  2. Knar Mouhibian said:

    Yes, there will be justice. Judgement Day is coming and cannot be stopped!
    Armenians everywhere are uniting, somewhat slowly, but surely.

  3. MK said:

    The treacherous hands of RPA party,the party where all criminality is hatched up and executed under the corrupt leadership of serzh,not to mention the treacherous act of March 1st where 10 innocent Armenians were gunned down by this regime in order to stay on power.

  4. Satenik said:

    I hope that we can find out why they did this terrible act and also who was behind the killing, if any. Hopefully some bitter lessons can be learned. We can not afford to lose any life , particularly those who have fought for Armenia ,in order that others can live in peace.

  5. Nigol "t" said:

    He was one of the last Artsakh heroes who proved that fighting in the battleground continued even after the war ended. His village was his family, fighting for Artsakh till the end of the war and during his 8 years as mayor he fought for Proshian. Never thought about his personal welfare. I remember the first time he asked me if I could help him out, our medical center is in shambles and needs renovation, I informed him about the people who were willing to finance but how much did he need, his answer was straight out ” Don’t give me money, you do it yourself”. The same answer came when he asked me to complete the “Banteum”, where our friend Bedo and six others from the village were buried, same with the sport gym, the club, school heating system (they used to close the school during the winter) the pre-school building, never once wanted to touch the money.
    At the end all he had to show for himself was a barnyard with a couple of hundred sheep that him and his brothers worked on and the land was his long before he became a kughabed.
    All the other kughabeds in the area drove big cars, had businesses and real estate but not him.
    We will miss you and your kind Hrach.