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Armenian army fails to be source of national pride

30 January 2014 [09:30] - TODAY.AZ
By AzerNews

Armenia could not celebrate the Armed Forces Day on January 28 with festivities, because the difficult situation in the army leaves people with nothing to be proud of.

Dozens of policemen used force against the mothers of dead soldiers who joined the protest staged by the Army in Reality local initiative group outside the National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre, where the soldiers' awarding ceremony took place.

On the same day, the relatives of the dead servicemen chanted accusations against President Serzh Sargsyan, who was visiting a military pantheon accompanied by senior officials. They expressed their dissatisfaction at the size of military pensions. The security guards ruthlessly prevented the attempts of citizens to hand their letters of appeal to the president and prime minister.

Frequent death cases, violence, brutality, and non-obedience reign in the army of the Former Soviet republic, which has pursued an aggressive policy against neighboring Azerbaijan for over 20 years. Tough economic condition in the country limits Armenian government's opportunities to modernize its army and ensure its growth. Instead, the government is faced with protests and disagreements among people who are unwilling to do their military service.

Thirty incidents were witnessed in the Armenian armed forces in 2013 that led to the death of 31 servicemen. Suicides, health problems, and poor medical care stand as the direct causes of fatalities.

The recent statistics are a cause for concern, because three death cases and two cases of violence occurred only in the 27 days of 2014, a report by the Helsinki Citizens' Assembly, Vanadzor Office, shows.

The human rights organization pointed to permanent violations during the conscription and military service, highlighting the absence of a political will in Armenia to reform the army.

"Many young men with health problems are being called to compulsory military service, while investigation into cases lacks objectivity," the organization alarms.

The Armenian government is unable to guarantee the safety of soldiers in the army, and deviation from military service is on the rise in Armenia.

The mothers of the dead soldiers held protests outside the Defense Ministry, demanding public punishment for the guilty. They called Defense Minister Ohanyan a "bubble", because "none of his promises has been fulfilled."

Ohanyan, in turn, was forced to exit the ministry's building by the back door to avoid the protesting mothers.

The absence of justice in Armenia has forced some parents of the dead soldiers to even appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

Armenia is faced with the shortage of soldiers and is looking for ways of stopping the migration of young men.

The government supported a draft law developed by the Ministry of Education and Science to amend the law on Military Service on January 23 in order to stop the migration of young men.

The ministry believes that students who are studying abroad with the deferment right avoid compulsory military service, which increases people's migration and stimulates a desire not to return home. The bill envisages eliminating the deferment right for students who study abroad based on governmental orders and interstate and interagency agreements.

The ministry also proposed the application of a special procedure for granting a deferment, and a deposit in the amount of 8.5 million drams ($20,885).

In the background of these unpleasant developments, Ohanyan contrived to call the Armenian army, which has kept 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory under occupation since the early 1990s, "one of the guarantors of peace in the region".

Armenia constantly violates the ceasefire on the contact line of Azerbaijani and Armenian troops, and these violations have intensified recently, reaching more than 200 times a day.

Armenia is ignoring all international rules of law and remains a major threat for the region's stability and peace.

The UN Security Council's four resolutions on Armenian withdrawal from the occupied territories have not been enforced to this day.

The ceasefire violations continued before and after the meeting of Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers with the participation of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs last week in Paris.

The Armenian troops shot dead Captain Elnur Jafarov, an Azerbaijani officer, and Lieutenant Sabuhi Azizov, an officer of the Azerbaijani armed forces, amid the growing tension along the contact line between the Armenian and Azerbaijan troops.

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