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Grisha Balasanyan

Anahit Gevorgyan’s Family Flees Karabakh; No Word from Her Parents in Martuni

Fourteen-year-old Tatul is one of the hundreds of children who’ve fled Karabakh for Armenia.

The boy’s parents, along with his sister Sofia and brother Razmik, reached the Armenian border village of Kornidzor yesterday and registered as a displaced family. The queue was long, they had no place to sleep.

The next day, the family made their way to Monteavan, a village named in honor of Armenian national hero Monte Melkonian, in Armenia’s Armavir Province. The family has friends there.

The children ask their mom, “Are there Turks here?” They are comforted to hear there aren’t any.

They’ve moved in with Svetlana Aslanyan and her family. When we visit, Aslanyan has set a table for the children’s breakfast. They peck at the food.

Many of Tatul’s friends remain in Artsakh. Anahit Gevorgyan, Tatul’s mother says many don’t have cars or gasoline to make the trip to Armenia. 

Sofia cleans the table after they’ve eaten. Mrs. Gevorgyan tells Tatul not to throw out the uneaten food. “It’s a shame. We’ll eat it later.”

Mrs. Gevorgyan tells Hetq this is the second time the family has found refuge in Armenia. The first time was during the 2020 Artsakh war. They later returned to Artsakh. This time is different. They plan to stay and are waiting for government housing.

“These people warmly welcomed us, but how long will we have to live here? We feel bad. It's a small house, and we inconvenience our hosts. We hope to find a vacant house, even if it’s for rent. We must live on. Then, I’ll at least know where we’ll live, where I’ll send my children to school. Now, I don’t know where to send them because in a couple of days we’ll move to another place," says Mrs Gevorgyan. 

Tatul and Sofia were in school when Azerbaijan started shelling Karabakh on September 19. Mrs. Gevorgyan rushed to the school after receiving a phone call from the principal that pupils and teachers were hunkered down in the basement.

Grabbing her kids, Mrs. Gevorgyan didn’t return home. They spent the night outside, under the trees. She volunteered to help at the Martakert hospital.

"I can't describe that situation in words. The smell of corpses and blood spread throughout Martakert. That smell stuck to my body, got into my hair. I took a bath yesterday and the smell is gone. There was no electricity to store the bodies in freezers. Then, we ran out of refrigerators. The bodies were lined up on the ground. I saw the corpse of my friend's husband, Vito. The family was out of touch for four days. I, who’s afraid of a needle, washed the faces of the corpses and cleaned them so that they were a little recognizable. Our boys did not deserve to be buried in that condition," says Mrs. Gevorgyan.

Her husband came to the hospital and took her home. The family quickly slaughtered a pig, lit a fire with the children at four in the morning, cooked it and brought the meat to the hospital to share with others.

On September 24, Mrs. Gevorgyan’s husband called the hospital and told her to prepare to leave. He’d found twenty liters of gasoline to drive to Armenia.

They grabbed some clothes and documents. They released the pigs and chickens. They locked the door and left. All their possessions are packed in the car they left in.

The children feel bad that they had to leave the family dog, Tot, behind. They wanted to know if the Azerbaijanis would shoot the dog. Mom lied, telling them other Armenians took the dog.

Mrs. Gevorgyan’s parents fled Baku during the 1990s Karabakh war and built a house in the town of Martuni. She married and moved to Vaghuhas with her husband.

On September 18, the day before the Azerbaijani assault, Mrs. Gevorgyan visited her parents in Martuni.

“I had this feeling of dread, of seeing everything for the last time. I took a photo of me and my son in front of Monte’s statue. We visited the memorial for local war victims and then left,” says Mrs. Gevorgyan.

Social media post today show Azerbaijani troops have dismantled Monte’s statute.

"Thank God we have no victims, but we’ve suffered a lot in the last wars. I haven't heard from my parents. I don't know where they are or what they are doing," says Mrs. Gevorgyan.

She rules out returning to Artsakh and living with Azerbaijanis. Reports that a twenty-year-old boy was beheaded in Vaghuhas, and the elderly were beheaded in other villages, only fuel her fears.

"My only thought is that our families get out safe and sound. Let us live in some corner. We will work, we will not be idle," says Mrs. Gevorgyan

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