When Karmir Shuka was conceded on November 1st, they said, ‘Shushi was captured’: Arman Gharibyan on the 44-day war and capturing a Syrian mercenary

“They said, ‘It’s a ceasefire, it’s the end, Shushi was captured, we’re going to Martakert.’ That is what our commander told us. We will go to Stepanakert, Arayik Harutyunyan will give whoever caught that Turk their medals, and we will go home,” Arman Gharibyan remembered the events of November 1st. When I expressed shock due to the fact that the ceasefire was signed on November 9th, he responded, “We did what we were ordered to do.”

Arman was injured on that day in Karmir Shuka. His injury was severe; it was in the abdomen. He had several surgeries recently, and the difficult recovery period still awaits.

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Arman Gharibyan, who is 23 years old, is from the Nor Karmir village of Akna (Aghdam). His father participated in the first Artsakh War, and he died after the war in a car accident when Arman was only 8 months old. Nor Karmir was handed over to Azerbaijan.

On November 1st, the former spokesperson of the Ministry of Defense of Armenia, Shushan Stepanyan, had posted a video to her Facebook page in which divisions of the Defense Army captured another Syrian mercenary as they fulfilled their combat duties.

“Garik and I captured the mercenary at 10 in the morning. Garik is from Martakert, but he lived in our village. He died that day. Garik went to bring the prisoner on his own. I told him that I’m coming with him. I didn’t have a weapon; I only had one grenade. We went and brought the mercenary back.” They somehow tried to tell the mercenary to show that he was not armed. They explained using hand gestures that they will not hurt him. “We dragged him back, but they surrounded us. They already became heroes.”

Five people were given awards for capturing the Syrian mercenary, but Arman was not one of them. His fallen friend, Garik, was also not on the list. “I do not know if Garik received anything, but Garik is no longer alive, how would he receive anything? He was on duty that evening. Alexei and Ivan captured the Arab and left. Garik, Beno, and I remained so that we could go together. We were supposed to be the last ones to leave. They told us to gather everything and leave. Beno also died…”

Arman explained that he was told that he needed to be on duty. Then, he received the command to gather everything until the last bullet and leave his position. He was unable to. He received a severe injury. He opened his eyes and saw that the other soldiers had died. He doesn’t remember anything after that. He woke up again at a hospital in Yerevan.

Arman woke up in the early morning of September 27th. “We were able to hear shots being fired a few minutes later, and the windows shattered. That’s when I understood that the war had begun. I went through this once before in 2016 when I was a soldier. Armen (his disabled brother) was asleep, so I carried him and jumped from the window, and left through the garden. Nothing else mattered besides saving my family. We reached the store, but they kept shooting.”

His mother, Elena, was getting ready to go to work. She had already reached her workplace, the military base. All the women and children were being sent to the neighboring village from the village store. The men were preparing to go to the frontlines.

Although Arman was legally discharged due to the fact that he has a disabled brother who needs constant care and an elderly mother, he did not make use of that privilege and he volunteered. “I did not even get to grab a pair of shoes. I was wearing a torn pair of slippers. I bought a few packs of cigarettes from the store, and we got in the cars and went to Martakert. They gave us one weapon in Martakert that probably hadn’t been used in 40 years, as well as 3 packs of bullets,” Arman said.

Their unit went to Martuni. “We reached Martuni at 11 in the evening. No one spoke to us and a commander did not arrive to tell us what we were supposed to do. They attacked at night with 4 tanks and 200 people. Half of our boys were wounded, and many died. We did everything to win, but our commanders didn’t let us win. They told us not to fight because we don’t need to. How were we supposed to fight with guns? We didn’t have the technology. They didn’t give it to us, or we didn’t have any- that’s for them to say. But we didn’t have anything.”

Now, he gets angry thinking about it. “It was our fault that we went. Why did the young people from our village and the neighboring village have to die? Why did my nephew have to die if they knew that this was what would happen? I lost everything- my friends, my brothers, my home…”

They moved to the Vosketap village of Ararat where they are renting a home. Although the state was supposed to compensate them, the state has not sent anything because they say that there is no money available. Their relatives living in Russia are helping them to also buy wood to heat their home in the winter.

They are grateful to the village leader and residents for helping them as much a possible.

By the way, there were some issues regarding Arman’s surgeries because he volunteered to fight. There were issues in many cases regarding the payments.

His mother, Elena, somehow fighting tears, kept asking, “What are we supposed to do? How are we supposed to live? This is not a life that we are living.”


Nelly Grigoryan

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