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Sara Petrosyan

Uninvited Ordnance: Unexploded Rocket Shell Stuck in Wall of Armenian Village House for 25 Years

Volodya Hakobyan’s house, standing in the most visible place in Kornidzor, a village in Armenia’s Syunik Province, still bears the traces of being under fire during the 1990s Artsakh War. 

In September 1992, a Grad missile struck the family house, destroyed the roof, and got stuck in the basement wall. It has been there, unexploded, ever since.

“Ten days ago, hearing about mine clearers visiting the village, I called them to have a look. They said that since the shell hadn’t exploded, they would first have to ignite the shell in order to extract it, and that the wall would be demolished”, said Mr. Hakobyan.

Volodya Hakobyan

His wife, Anzhela, can’t believe that their house will finally be made safe. She says it was easier to live unaware of the shell being unexploded, but now that they know, they are afraid, impatiently waiting for the day when the demining takes place. For the past ten days, people have flocked to the house to snap photos of the shell and then leave.

During the war, seven houses were burnt in the village because ofAzerbaijani Grad shells. Six families received compensation and renovated their houses. Anzhela says they received no assistance.

The Hakobyans have written to former Syunik Provincial Governor Sourik Khachatryan, former Armenian President Robert Kocharyan, Serzh Sargsyan and others. Though the constant reply has been that compensation is forthcoming, even the shell has yet to bedefused.

Anzhela says that after their house was demolished, they fled with other Kornidzor residents to Noravan, a village in the Sisian region, and hunkered down in some abandoned houses.  Then, when the Azerbaijanis left their village, they returned to their homes. 

The Hakobyans, however, didn’t have a home to go back to. “We lived under the sky, not a single window was standing. We came, collected building materials from here and there, and built step by step. Then we took a loan and built the roof. The house at risk offalling apart. Every year, we send petitions to the provincial authorities. They come, take photos, but everything stays the same”.

Anzhela points to the dreadful conditions in which the family of four lives. 

The bed of her 86-year-old father-in-law is just next to the shell, in a dark and damp basement room. He’s got cancer, and has been spending two years in a hospital in Yerevan. Anzhela’s concerned for her 23-year-old son, who has returned from army and will now share in the difficulties facing the family.

“I don’t want pity, justthe compensation which I have the right to get, so that at least my son is able to live”, says Anzhela Hakobyan. 

P.S. The Syunik Provincial Administration (Marzpetaran) told Hetq that the demining will take place on May 2. 

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