11 years ago, in 2007, Elvira Arzakanyan’s family, including her mother, husband and two sons resettled from Yerevan to Karabakh’s Vardut village of Kashatagh region through the resettlement program.
According to this program, the family was entitled to a 3-room newly built house on the condition that any of the family members need to live in the house for 10 years without interruption after which they can privatize the house. The conditions also included a prohibition of absence longer than 3 months.
The family lived in the house from 2007 until 2012. Three of the family members worked in the village school as teachers. Elvira’s husband also worked as a veterinary.
In 2012, new teachers are resettled to Vardut.
“Our class hours were reduced and therefore the salary was not sufficient for our living, so my husband, children and I came back to Yerevan. My mother, however, who is a teacher for 50 years, has a disability of category 2, continued to live in the village and work in the school,” tells us Elvira.
In April 2017, when Elvira’s mother Karine Pirumyan’s 10-year term of living in the house was reached, she left for Yerevan for medical treatment, as there was no due health service in Karabakh.
“When my mom came to Yerevan in April, she had in her mind the condition of the contract that she shouldn’t be absent for more than 3 months, and on June 30, 2017 she returns home and receives her pension. I have a document that confirms this. Then she goes back to Yerevan to continue her treatment. On September 26, when the three months of absence was not yet reached, she went back to Vardut to receive her pension in order to have money for treatment.”
In September 2017, Karine Pirumyan had the right to privatize the house, however Kashatagh region’s administration decides to take the house back and resettle another family there.
Karine Pirumyan turned to Karabakh courts, however the courts of both first instance and appeals rejected her claims. They stated that the woman had not used electricity in the house and that provided evidence that she had been absent for more than 3 months and therefore had violated the terms of the contract.
“The court does mention that my mother went to receive a pension every other month, however does not mention that this was before the contractual 3-month term was reached. In other words, the terms of the contract were not breached.”
Karine Pirumyan has appealed the decisions of the courts to the Court of Cassation with the hope that it will pay attention to the fact that the 3-month absentee prohibition was not breached.
— Why are they doing this?
— They would always say that new houses were going to be build so that the number of permanent school children is maintained. However new houses were not built for unknown reasons. I think this is a violation. When we were coming to resettle, we were told that the number of school children would be maintained. However, now, in order to maintain this number, they have grabbed the house from my mother and have brought in a family with 5 children, and this is the manner in which they maintain school children’s number. Instead of building houses, they grab ours in order to bring new school children.
— How does it feel like living in Karabakh?
— There are 8 houses in Vardut and 1 communal building where 8 households live.
… When we were being resettled to Karabakh, they would present everything in perfect terms. They would say we would have a job, would be able to do agriculture. But the opposite happened, our jobs were announced redundant, they brought new teachers without building new houses and resettled them in the communal building, our class ours were cut, we didn’t have money to live on.
We have lived through many deprivations: there was no shop, no transportation. The closest town Berdzor where could shop was reachable by car only.
In Karabakh a single phone call determines whether you will get a house or not. The supreme court told us that they would accept the claim only if there is a violation. Can you imagine this? The violation is obvious!