Bullying causes 7 deaths in the Armenian army

Death of 7 army servicemen in two separate non-combat incidents this week highlighted lingering abuse and serious problems within the country’s armed forces. Defense Ministry said Artak Nazarian, 30, commander of rifle platoon, head of the military base near Chinar village of Tavush region killed himself on July 27th, even as relatives question the official version and autopsy reveals traces of violence on the body.

One day later, on July 28th, deadly shooting occurred in Martuni region of Karabakh. Conscript Karo Ayvazyan shot an army lieutenant and a sargent, killed 3 other soldiers and shot himself.

The Armenian Armed Forces have been plagued with bullying and other abuses resulting in at least a dozen non-combat deaths each year ever since their establishment in 1992.

The Armenian military insists that it is doing its best to address the problem in earnest. It says the number of such incidents has steadily and significantly declined since the late 1990s.

Senior and mid-ranking army officers have rarely been prosecuted in connection with those crimes. Those who are put on trial usually get off with short prison sentences.

Media passivism, Facebook activism

The Facebook grup's logo says "Don't keep silence!"

The state-controlled television has kept silent on the tragic incidents in the army which should become the central issue on news agenda and serve as basis for discussions on necessity of reform in the Armenian Armed Forces.

Meanwhile, a group has been set up in the Facebook social networking site, which calls for proper investigation of Artak Nazarian’s death as well as investigation into the 6 other deaths.

More than 300 people have joined the group at the moment of wirting. The group is entitled “Don’t keep silence!”

However, I am facing a personal dilemma when writing on the tragic deaths in the Armenian Armed Forces as well.

The call of duty forces me to speak up. However, every reported death of an Armenian soldier serves the purposes of propaganda machine in neighboring Azerbaijan, which is engaged in a bitter conflict with Armenia over the status of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Voicing concerns with the situation in the Army will hardly help improve the situation, but it will certainly step-up bellicose rhetoric in Baku and might one day turn into a catalyst for resumption of hostilities and a new, more bloody war.

So really, this is one of the cases, when I have no idea, which is the appropriate course of action to take.

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12 thoughts on “Bullying causes 7 deaths in the Armenian army

  1. “What will the neighbors say?” implies a false choice, because the choice is the government’s, not yours. Beyond your duty as a reporter, if you want to see the situation improve you must speak up. It is then the responsibility of those in charge to make the needed changes to staunch the bleeding and improve morale.

    First of all, this problem is certainly no secret to any young men faced with army duty—I’m sure you know that far better than I do. Second, the morale/bullying situation in the Azerbaijani army is no better than the Armenian army, as the video Mika posted two years ago on his blog clearly shows. http://unzipped.blogspot.com/2008/10/confirmed-video-on-bullying-in.html

    And any propaganda that can be made out of this situation would be empty and self-defeating if the Armenian government actually took steps to improve the lives and morale of the soldiers. Making the army a province of fair-minded leaders and not a place ruled by sadistic bullies would encourage recruitment; placing an emphasis on acquiring skills and leadership values that serve soldiers professionally after their army days would be the best way to solve the military’s demographic challenges.

    Keeping silent, on the other hand, only encourages the “bully or be bullied” mindset that is endemic in Armenian society, be it the police, the bodyguards, the courts, the educational system. etc. etc. It is precisely this mindset that is holding Armenia back societally and economically.

    To put it another way, if there is a large hole in your floorboards, should you fix the floor or just cover it with a rug and try to remember not to step there?

  2. Never mind what Azerbaijan or anyone else thinks. We must all speak up against abuses, not only in the armed forces but in all government institutions and segments of society. Abusers must be held accountable. Otherwise, they will continue with even more violent behavior. Such abusers most probably abuse their own families and children also. The abused in the armed forces have no voice to be heard outside. Therefore, reporters and the public must be their voices and must speak up for them.

    I understand how Karo Ayvazyan must have felt towards his abusers when he “shot an army lieutenant and a sargent, killed 3 other soldiers and shot himself”. Too bad he shot himself. The word abuse is too mild a word. I suspect, these soldiers are tortured and beaten without mercy. Frankly, if I were treated as these soldiers are, I am not sure I would want to defend such leadership or a country.

  3. karo was my cousin in la after he moved to colorado when he was 7 and i havent seen him then her bitch mom hore cock sucker kicked him out at 16 karo started doing drugs and last i heard he was in jail and today he dead for his rapotation karo was a fun kid smart funny he did not deserve to die like that but every dog has his day R I p littie homie we moun you til we join you it was all his fuckin moms falt fucken horeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

    • Art, I’m sorry to hear that. Life put him in this situation, and corruption in the army, bullying, etc. forced him to become the killer of 5 and himself. Regardless, RIP to him and to all those who died on this tragic incident.

    • I am very saddened about the loss of your cousin. Please accept my condolences. Abusive environment drives some to breaking point where they feel their only escape is to end it all. This is more reason we should all speak up against abuse and abusers in all segments of society, hoping to stop the cycle of violence. He is at peace now.

    • fuck you you little hoe cake when i find you ill rip your balls you bicth im Karos brother and i know more than you go suck balls you faget if your a man come meet me

  4. Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan denounces recent killings in the Armenian Army due to bullying. A lot of it is staged, of course, but it is a start. Let’s see how it develops:

  5. I don’t want this story to go unnoticed–I linked it earlier on Twitter but it didn’t get enough views. An Azerbaijani soldier who was sexually abused by his platoon commander committed suicide. It was not properly reported in the Azeri press, but an Azeri journalist who has refugee status in Europe contacted Hetq in able to get the report made public. http://hetq.am/en/society/adrbejan-5/ And it of course shows, as I mentioned above, that abuse goes on in the Azerbaijani army, just as it does in the Armenian one. Silence helps only the abusers.

    • Ani,

      This is so sad. Poor soldier joins the military, gets raped and then hangs himself. His family and friends must be devastated. That platoon commander should be charged with murder, in addition to rape charges. His repulsive criminal actions caused the death of this soldier.

  6. Pingback: Raped Azerbaijani Soldier Hangs Himself | The Armenian Observer Blog

  7. Pingback: Four Armenian Soldiers Killed in Karabakh Shooting | The Armenian Observer Blog

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