Mr. Serzh Sargsyan, members of the Armenian Government and the National Assembly,
The rising death toll and the widespread abuse in the Armenian and Artsakh armies are alarming. Today the cause of the huge wave of public outrage is not only the arithmetic of losses or the fact that more Armenian soldiers are killed by their fellow servicemen than by the enemy, but also the inefficiency of the response from the Ministries of Defense of both Armenia and Artsakh.
Armenians both in Armenia and in Diaspora were shocked by the official statement of the Defense Ministry of Armenia in regards to the video recording of army abuse, condemning “the preparation and pre-meditated dissemination of such materials directed at compromising and defaming the Armenian Armed Forces.” This, of course, would include me among those to be punished for sounding an alarm of the inhuman treatment in the army. Such threats are clearly seen as an attempt to ban crime reporting, which is indispensable for law-enforcement.
Referring to the sadistic officer captured in the scandalous video, Mikayel Harutiunyan, the RA President’s Chief Military Adviser, was quoted by RFE/RL as saying that “such officers have no place in the army.” I absolutely agree with that statement as do most, including the U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, Marie L. Yovanovitch who went on the record as stating on October 12 in Los Angeles that she stood by this contention. However, in that context, it’s puzzling that the current Ministers of Defense of both Armenia and Artsakh, Colonel-General Seyran Ohanyan and Lieutenant-General Movses Hakobyan respectively, still “have a place in the army” after a more heinous incident on June 19, 2005, when, together with a number of high-ranking servicemen, they severely beat Pavel Manukyan who was afterward hospitalized unconscious.
Neither Seyran Ohanyan, nor Samvel Karapetyan, nor Vardan Balayan, nor Artur Harutiunyan, nor Vladik Khachatryan, nor Movses Hakobyan, the current Defense Minister of Artsakh, who participated in the gang beating of Pavel Manukyan have been held liable for the group violence. Isn’t this a green light for those officers who commit violence against soldiers without fear of punishment? Moreover, they can be promoted, just like Colonel-General Seyran Ohanyan and Lieutenant-General Movses Hakobyan were.
Unless the culprits are punished by the letter and the spirit of the law, our strong Armenian army will eventually be defeated from within. In order to avert this outcome, the atmosphere of impunity has to be eradicated in the Armenian army. The fastest way to achieve this would be:
- Dismissing Colonel-General Seyran Ohanyan from his post of the Defense Minister of Armenia;
- Entrusting the office of Defense Minister with someone who not only stands out for his contribution to the victory in the Artsakh war but also for being a law-abiding citizen;
- Launching criminal probes into Pavel Manukyan’s gang beating on June 19, 2005, as well as into army abuses in general and punish those who have committed crimes;
- Carrying out more scrupulous and more frequent monitoring of the military bases;
- Encouraging crime reporting with safety guarantees;
- Releasing those who recorded the video of the sadistic conduct and ensuring their safety.
I’m looking forward to your response and speedy action. I am always ready to serve our nation now and in the future regardless of the outcome of my request to you.
Ara K. Manoogian
Shahan Natalie Family Foundation, Inc.
For more information about the above mentioned army abuses, please visit: www.TheTruthMustBeTold.com