Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly of Vanadzor (HCAV) has released a detailed analysis of the statistics, case descriptions, data comparison to previous years on military servicemen of Armenia’s and NK’s armies that died in the first 3 months of 2020. The data is based on formal inquiries, HCAV’s own observations and media reports.
In the first quarter of 2020, 16 military servicemen died in the armies of Armenia and NK, of which 5 were formally characterized as suicide (or driving to suicide), 5 were due to health issues, 4 were a result of accidents, 1 a car accident, and only 1 was a casualty on the frontline due to violation of the ceasefire.
Formal press statements were released only about 12 of the cases, with 3 cases reported in the media, while 1 case was not reported either by media, or official sources and HCAV learned about it from a formal inquiry. The Military Prosecutor’s office explains that these 4 cases were unrelated to military service, that is why they were not reported.
As compared to the same period of 2019, this year the number of cases of deaths were higher by 3. It is notable, that cases characterised as suicide have sharply increased this year, compared to the same period of last year. As a result of public outcry in January and February, the Military Prosecutor’s office was more careful in characterizing deaths as suicide in March 2020. At the same time, official sources have not characterized any case as murder in the first 3 months of 2020.
Of the 16 military servicemen died in the first quarter of 2020, 5 were mandatory conscripts, 7 were contract soldiers, and 4 were lieutenants. Overall, the conscripts are reported to have died due to suicide and health issues, while contract soldiers have mainly died due to accidents (4 cases), and to suicide, health issues and violation of the ceasefire regime each by one case. Lieutenants are reported to have died due to health issues, a car accident in one case and another lieutenant is reported to have committed a suicide.
It is noteworthy that suicide and health issues cause the death of both conscripts and contract soldiers and lieutenants.
Ceasefire regime was violated less intensively in the first quarter of 2020 than in 2019. However, intensive cross-border shootings were observed during the state of emergency declared due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On march 30, Azerbaijanian armed forces went on an offensive towards the Noyemberyan region of Armenia. 2 contract soldiers a child resident of Voskevan village were injured.
HCAV also reports that 13 criminal cases have opened in relation to the above-mentioned cases, of these 12 are related to military service.
HCAV is worried about the increased number of deaths resulted by health issues. This indicates that the armed forces do not organize proper pre-service examinations and proper medical oversight and care during service.
Contract soldier Zohrab Sianosyan was reported dead from a cross-border shot on March 10 2020 in Armenia.
Conscripts Vahram Avagyan, Tigran Manvelyan, Tigran Mkhoyan, contract soldiers (lieutenant) Hayk Asryan and Gegham Khachatryan are reported to have committed a suicide.
Conscript Artyom Ghazaryan is reported to have died due to a sudden death, although relatives dispute this hypothesis as they discovered multiple bruises on his body. Valery Petrosyan is another conscript reported to have died due to a sudden death. Contract soldier Hayk Barseghyan, lieutenants Karen Darbinyan and Aleksandr Tazagulyan are reported to have died due to health issues unrelated to military service. Another case of death reported unrelated to military service is that of Narek Hovakimyan, an official of the Ministry of Defense of Armenia who died due to a car accident outside his service.
Accidents have taken the lives of soldiers during their service, namely contract soldier Artur Nalbandyan fell off the road into the gorge, contract soldiers Karapet Nazaryan, Tigran Arzumanyan, Never Shahbazyan were caught in a snow avalanche in Syunik Marz.