Despite some achievements of the Armenian army, a Soviet-era model of unregulated criminal relations reigns in the armed forces, reads a recently disseminated public statement by several NGOs and human rights defenders in Armenia, drawing attention to the deplorable situation in Armenia’s armed forces today.
The statement notes that in 2008–2011 alone, the official figure for the number of deaths in the army for various reasons is 187, only 25 of which were the result of ceasefire violations.
According to estimates by various experts, the unofficial figure of number of army deaths since 1994 is closer to 1,500 youth. “The criminal investigations into most of these cases are accompanied by gross violations; a significant portion are not uncovered for years, while the murders are usually disguised as suicides. And the rights of their parents are often neglected, as they are scorned by state officials,” reads the statement, in part.
The authors of the statement assess the lack of a public position by Supreme Commander of RA Armed Forces Serzh Sargsyan as a consequence of a distorted understanding of his role, not taking control of the situation, indifference and/or sponsorship.
They call on Sargsyan to organize a thorough examination of criminal proceedings in all cases of violence against soldiers, and deaths, murders and suicides in the armed forces since 1994, as well as guarantees that all those officials who are directly responsible for investigations and unlawful actions will be held accountable.
In addition, NGO representatives and human rights activists call on Sargsyan to initiate legislation and involve the public sector, and to provide “immediate, appropriate and adequate” compensation for moral and material losses to the families of soldiers killed in the Armenian army during peacetime.
If steps are not taken in this direction within a month’s time, authors of the statement say will lay the blame and responsibility for the situation in the army on Supreme Commander, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and will demand his resignation.