Lost generation in Upper Karabakh

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Alisa, from its shelter under the subsoil of StepanakertHe hears them at all hours: this time it was loud; it will have fallen near the city. The next one has been much closer and the walls shake, but everything still stands. The other, almost imperceptible, has exploded far away and the anti-aircraft siren nor has it tripped. But those, the ones that are far away and harmless to her and him group of 20 people in their shelter, are the bombs that worry this 50-year-old woman.

The reason is simple: they could be for your child. “Every time I hear the bombings I die of terror. All of us in this shelter have relatives in front and we fear that something has fallen to them. But for now my son is still whole. I pray for him every day“, dice Alisa.

A man looks out the shattered window of his house / ADRIÀ ROCHA CUTILLER

It all started on September 27: that Sunday morning, by surprise, Azerbaijan I declare that Armenia and the forces of Upper Karabakh -a de facto state and in internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan they had been attacked and therefore began a “counteroffensive” against the enemy. The Armenians denied having been the first, but that mattered little now. After 30 years of some peace in the Caucasus Mountains, the war returned.

During three weeks of battle, the Armenians have been on the defensive, and the civilian population of both sides has been bombarded. Near 70 civilians have died for attacks on residential areas. But this figure hides another much larger and more difficult. On the battle fronts -on both sides-, professional soldiers whose job choice has been that of the Army do not fight, but they do lads and young boys that a month ago they were pending if the covid would missing more months of class, college, or work and that now, suddenly, without expecting it, they have been sent to the trenches to kill and die for the homeland. As in the first war, from 1988 to 1994, they are the lost generation of the Karabakh.

WHEN MY CHILD COMES BACK

And Alisa’s son is part of it. When he went to the front, September 28, the young man worked in a agriculture company. He is in his twenties, but his life is on hold: when they don’t talk on the phone – they only do it for a few days – his mother can’t stop thinking “y si…“.

“I can’t explain what I felt when he left. I can’t. It costs me a lot. I felt like part of me was gone forever. It was very hard. It’s very hard. It’s a very hard feeling“Alisa says from her refuge, where she is not the only one. Here, many other mothers, women and wives have seen their male relatives come to take up arms.

“I can’t explain what I felt when my son went to the front. It was as if part of me was gone forever,” says Alisa.

“When I return I will be the happiest person in the world, as if nothing mattered anymore. But now I can’t think about that. It hurts too much, “Alisa continues.

It is the great tragedy of this war: in Armenia, a country of 3.5 million inhabitants, there is absolutely no one who is not affected by this conflict. No one who does not have a family member or friend who is in front or has returned from him, whole or in parts. This, for two small nations like Armenia and Azerbaijan -de 10 million inhabitants– It is a total war, for everything and everything. Die or kill. There’s no more.

Lost generation in Upper Karabakh

Neighbors of Martuni, a town five kilometers from the front, in the basement of a building that serves as a refuge. / ADRIÀ ROCHA CUTILLER

All my friends are in the front. The only one who has not gone is me, because even though I am Armenian I do not have a passport and they have not let me go -he says Mher, a young man of 22 years. And the truth is that it makes me feel terrible. I feel guilty“This is the war in the Caucasus: here one does not fight for the glory of the fatherland and the survival of the nation, that too. Here one struggles to be at the height of the neighbor, of the father or grandfather; to be able to look at their faces.

TO LIFE OR DEATH

And everything, of course, has a price. In the three weeks of war and despite the ceasefire last Saturday, the dead at the front are piling up. Armenia has already recognized 548 combat deaths and Azerbaijan none officially, because, they say, they will give the total figure when the conflict ends.

However, the actual figure, many explain, may be several thousand in total. The front is full of corpses which, due to active combat, cannot be retired. On average, in the first karabakh war5,000 people died a year; 30,000 in total. In this one now, in just three weeks, it could have reached a similar figure.

In Armenia, a country of 3.5 million inhabitants, there is no one who has not been affected by the war: everyone has family or friends at the front

The key have been Turkey and Israel. “Turkish and Israeli military technology combining drones with remote sensors pointers has created a military asymmetry in favor of Azerbaijan. Armenia fights with weapons systems that were novelty 12 years ago, in the Russo-Georgian War“, Explain Michael Tanchum, professor at university of Navarra.

And asymmetry, above all, translates into death. “Most of the people who come to the hospital have bomb wounds, not bullet. A bomb explodes nearby and the shrapnel creates several holes in their bodies. And those who arrive are almost always very young, children. 20 or 25 years old. Most of them come with a closed mind, disconnected from reality“, dice Armen Hagopjanian, Surgeon at Stepanakert Hospital. The figures are not deceiving: more than 50% of those killed in this war – on the Armenian side, at least – were born between the 2000 and 2002. Kids from between 18 and 20 years.

Lost generation in Upper Karabakh

Cleaning and debris removal work after a bombing in Stepanakert. / ADRIÀ ROCHA CUTILLER

Its inhuman. And a dilemma for us: Is it right to save a person’s life and make him the unhappiest person in the world for the next 50 years? It might be better to let her die … We have guys we perform to three amputations. What quality of life will this kid have? “Says the doctor.

Hagopjanian continues: “We decided to save all lives, but I think in the future we will have to look back and ask ourselves if we did the right thing. If I lost two arms and a leg, I’m not sure I wanted to continue living. It is very difficult to make a decision for them. “

In the end, a question looms: How many more lives will the monstrous human flesh grinder what is this war?

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