Another violent incident has taken place in a Karabakh military unit resulting in the death of a soldier. At 6:00 am on Wednesday, near combat positions in Askeran, private Hayk Mkrtchyan reportedly received fatal gunshots.
Military authorities in Stepanakert said the serviceman of the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army (born in 1992) had been drafted from the military registration and enlistment office of Armenia’s town of Echmiadzin. The local military commissar Hayk Mkrtchyan later told the “Human Rights in Armenia” website (www.hra.am) that Mkrtchyan was killed with a shot fired by a fellow soldier. The shooter has not been named yet.
This is the second non-combat death within the Armenian armed forces within a space of two weeks. Also, earlier this week, media and online social networks disseminated a video material telling about how a serviceman identified as Hovhannes Vardanyan ended up in a madhouse after serving 14 months in the armed forces. The Military Prosecutor’s Office has already instituted a criminal case in connection with this footage on the hallmarks of a penal code article dealing with abuse of power, stretch of authority or inaction.
Armenia’s human rights activists estimate that since the cessation of hostilities in Karabakh in 1994, as many as 1,500 young men have died while serving in Armenian armed forces. In contrast, throughout the 1992-1994 war, about 6,000 combatants were killed on the Armenian side. So far authorities have refused to disclose the statistics of army casualties in peacetime.
A number of human-rights organizations on Tuesday issued a statement, calling unacceptable torture and violence against soldiers and attempts to cover up such cases. They also demanded concrete steps to combat hazing and remedy the general atmosphere within the army ranks.