“If they think that by giving back those territories they can continue to live comfortably, they are mistaken.” This is what Garik, a disabled person, told us one week ago in Martakert, Karabakh. I tried to get him to enter into a conversation regarding what the guys who fought in the Artsakh war of liberation thought about recent development surrounding the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement process. It seemed that my questions ruffled the feathers of the veteran who received a head injury during the war. I felt that I had made a blunder by stating that Karabakh residents weren’t interested in discussing the issue of returning the liberated territories surrounding the NKR.
When I stated that the guys who fought in the war feared talking about the matter I understood that I had crossed the line. Garik opened up and talked without taking a breath.
“I don’t care who it is, we, the people of Karabakh, will strike out at them. No one can ever sign such a document. At least you can imagine what giving back those lands would mean. Who will take such a risk, at the cost of their lives? Is Serzh ready to place himself in harm’s way? Do you know what such a move will mean? Karabakh will once again be surrounded on four sides and nobody will remain here. No, let me rephrase that. A group of suicide commandos will remain and another such group will be dispatched to Yerevan. Don’t for a minute think that it will all go down so easily. There’s a lot to do here. Those riches that they have accumulated have come at the expense of the blood shed by me, Norik, Armen, Samo, Monte, Peto, Ardj and a thousand others. And now they want to hand those lands back? Have they asked me what I want, have they asked my comrades or those who gave their lives? If you want to give back land let them give Yerevan back. Why are you keeping that city, what good is it to you? You’ll leave for Los Angeles, Russia, Sochi. Go there to live; what are you doing in Yerevan? Don’t you need a place to eat, drink and make merry? There are countless places scattered throughout the world that will satisfy these needs of yours. Go! That’s where you’ll find the ‘real’ Armenians because you know what? An Armenian cannot live in his own country. An Armenian must flee, constantly flee…But there is no escape from this world. An Armenian can only escape from his homeland.”
“I knew that I’d be having this conversation one day. And now here you are engaged in such a discussion with me. They never asked me, all these years they never asked me and now you’ve come along and are asking me. However, I knew the day would come when they’d get around to asking me. So listen up closely! Once upon a time it was Levon saying such things and now it’s Serzh. Will they be guarding the borders of Armenia or their boys? Were they the ones protecting the borders back in the day? What do they care? They never had a care in the world but today we don’t even know where our next daily meal will come from. Are they the ones that have shouldered this torment so that they can now turn around and strip us of those lands? No, we are the ones who have born the brunt of the suffering. What connection do Serzh, Robert or Levon have with us that affords them the right to speak on our behalf?”
“These nights I wake from my sleep shouting, drenched in sweat. A night doesn’t pass without me ranting so. Why has my family named me ‘the cat’? Why, because my kids don’t know the pain I have born, and I don’t want them to know. And that’s the reason why we spent months surviving through the winter snows; so that the children would never experience those feelings. Have you ever heard stories about the partisans who lived in the forests for years, deprived of everything? And know you want to give back those lands? We’ll blow all of you guys up; you, who write those lies, and those others, with their fat hands on their bellies who have reduced us all to this pitiful state. Do you know what conditions those guys who fought are living in today?” “No one understands their plight. It’s as if they are no longer a part of this country. They have no connection with you people. They have taken to drinking binges for days on end. They drink to forget and that others steer clear of them. They drink so as not to be taken seriously. Yeah, that’s what I want; to be left alone. That’s why I drink. My friends and I aren’t capable of working. It’s not because there isn’t work to be had, it’s because we can’t work.”
“Now try to explain why what’s bottled up in your head prevents you from doing anything. Can you understand what such a thing means; when what’s in your head prevents you from living a normal life, when it cripples you and leaves you in a state of emptiness? But who understands us and who wants to? Now you come along and ask me what I think about giving lands back. Here, you’ll only find keepers of the land; go look for land givers elsewhere. Go look for them in Yerevan and tell them it will end badly for them. We couldn’t care else; it’s bad for us now. Go write that it will end badly for them!”
At first I also thought about directing similar questions to the Parliamentary Deputies and officials seated in the Stepanakert. But after my discussion with Garik I realized that, regardless of what they said, it wouldn’t make much of a difference anyway.
Photo by Hakob Poghosyan
See also: The Way of Armenian Army