My name is Mariam and I am a filmmaker from Artsakh. My colleague Tigran, my cameraman & I are making a no-commentary-style documentary series to show post-war life in Artsakh called #TheDesireToLive. This short series is going to show the effects of the war on the regular people of Artsakh and their livelihood. If you want to learn more about Artsakh and the people that live in it, subscribe to the channel!
I start this documentary series from Ariavan (Armenian: Արիավան), a new settlement in the Aghavno region of Kashatagh, Artsakh. It emerged as a new community of hope in Artsakh, built in 2014 for the locals, repatriated Armenians, large families, and newly married couples. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Independence of Artsakh, the Ariavan village has officially begun to become a viable community, which was now caught in war.
For the 2nd episode of the series, we went to Tsaghkashat (Armenian: Ծաղկաշատ) village in the Askeran Province of Artsakh. A marvelous place which is home to numerous historical and cultural monuments: St. Astvatsatsin Church (19th century), cemetery (18-19th century), spring (19th century), khachkars (13th century), a Fortress (early Middle Ages) and Tombs from 2-1 thousand BC, as well as some 35 monuments. Nicole Duman House-Museum is also located here.
Listen to the people of the village tell what they’ve been through, sharing their thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams of peace.
For episode 3 we went to the village Shosh (Armenian: Շոշ) in the Askeran Province of Artsakh, which is 8 km away from Stepanakert. The village Shosh has a very long history which starts in the 13th century, with many historical and cultural monuments still standing today, some of which we visited.
It was a snowy and cold day in Shosh and the villagers were rebuilding their houses which got destroyed or damaged from the shelling. They tell stories about how their sons got wounded while sleeping at home, how they escaped near death. The villagers share their pain of having to leave their homes because it wasn’t safe to stay there anymore. They also tell us about their hopes and dreams and their great desire for peace.
Episode 4 features the village Sznek (Armenian: Սզնեք) in the Askeran Province of Artsakh, which has now become a frontline. Some lands of the village are under Azeri control, yet villagers are back and rebuilding it, refusing to leave their indigenous lands.
Sznek is one of the settlements which is small in its size, but big in its history. It has a rich history, there are historical and cultural monuments in the village, St. Astvatsatsin Church (1849), cemetery (18-19th century), watermill (19th century), spring (19th century), 6 monuments are registered. Hardworking, respectful, kind, and modest Sznektsi is connected with his native village by a thousand and one threads. Like Mr. Mikaelyan, a teacher from the village.
Episode 5 features Sos (Armenian: Սոս) which is a village in the Martuni Province of Artsakh. The area around Sos probably doesn’t look much different than it did 1,600 years ago. Around that time, Mesrob Mashtots, the inventor of the Armenian alphabet, taught the new script for the first time at the Amaras Monastery nearby. Before that, it is recorded that the monastery itself was founded by St. Gregory the Illuminator, the man who brought Christianity to Armenia in the late 3rd century AD. St. Gregory’s grandson, Grigoris, is also buried at the monastery.
For all the local history, you would not expect Sos to be such an unassuming place. It humbly sits in the south of Artsakh, a village known for its rich soil, well-suited for viticulture. Not surprisingly, most of the residents are vintners and their primary work is winemaking. The bucolic, ancient setting aside, Sos bears the scars of the 1st Artsakh War for Independence. During the fighting, 38 community members lost their lives from this village of just over 1,000 people. St. Carpet church is located there and on the front stone of the door it’s written, “I command this, that you love one another.”
Walking around Sos, you might not think of it. But, 1,600 years after Mesrob Mashtots established a school in the area to first teach the Armenian alphabet, Armenians are still living in that place and studying that alphabet.
Episode 6 features Karmir Gyugh(Armenian: Կարմիր գյուղ), which translates as Red Village (not to be confused with “Karmir Shuka” village, which means “Red Market”) is a village in the Askeran region of the Artsakh Republic. Formerly the village was called Trnavarz, it originated from the name “Ter Avez”, who was the founder of this settlement. In 1921 the village was renamed Karmir Gyugh.
This village, in particular, is extra special for me, because I grew up here. My grandpa (the tonir master in this video) still lives there. This village was once home to 1800 people, but the population today is less than 180. This happened largely because of Musavat groups, who organized widespread bloodshed, the most infamous one being the Shushi massacre of 1920.
Valadants, Mets Jur, Tghke springs are famous in the village, from where we would fetch water every day. The Bovurkhana Monastery is located here too, it is built on a dense forested, beautiful mountain. The latter is an architectural complex of great interest, consisting of a church, residential, auxiliary buildings, fences.
Episode 7 features Karmir Shuka (Armenian: Կարմիր Շուկա), which translates as Red Market (not to be confused with “Karmir Gyugh” village, which means “Red Village”). It’s a rural community in the Martuni region of Artsakh. It is located in the south-eastern part of the republic. It is 32 km away from the regional center of Martuni, and 35 km away from the capital Stepanakert. The population of the Karmir Shuka community is 1113 people. It’s home to the famous Tnjri, a 2041-year-old giant Oriental plane tree.
Almost 60% of the Karmir Shuka village was destroyed. The Azerbaijani army deliberately fired at civilians. We saw the most devastating scenes of destruction. Shops, the local library, the local cultural center, the gas plant, storages for grain, barns, and houses are bombarded, some houses are completely destroyed and leveled to the ground. The lands used for agriculture belonging to the village are all under Azeri control now. There are both POWs (prisoners of war) and martyred from this village.
Episode 8 features Hin Shen (Armenian: Հին Շեն), which translates as Old Village. Hin Shen is a rural community in the Shushi region of the Artsakh Republic. It is located in the southwestern part of the republic. It is 41 km away from the regional center of Shushi, and 55 km away from the capital Stepanakert. The population of the Hin Shen is 190 people, there are 45 households.
During the recent war, this village was in a blockade for 4 days. The Azerbaijani forces tried to put pressure on the Armenian side by setting up outposts on the roads leading to Hin Shen village. But as a result of the intervention of the Russian peacekeeping troops, the Azerbaijani outpost was removed and the village was no longer in a blockade. The villagers themselves showed incredible bravery in pushing back the Azeri troops. One of them tells an incredible story in this episode about confronting Azeri soldiers when the latter tried to ambush the village.
Episode 9 features Taghaverd (Armenian: Թաղավարդ) in the Martuni region of the Artsakh Republic. It is located in the south-eastern part of the republic. It is 40 km away from the regional center of Martuni, and 42 km away from the capital Stepanakert. The population before the war was 1600 with some 344 farms.
As a result of the 2nd Artsakh War in 2020, half of the village was ethnically cleansed of Armenians and came under the control of Azerbaijan. All the farming grounds and forests, as well as the water reservoir with drinking water, are now captured by the Azeris. They get water once a week for 1hour, they are afraid to drink that water for fear of being poisoned. In the Armenian side of the village there is a lot of destruction. One house alone some 17 warheads have landed. Many homes are burned to the ground. The villagers are at a loss on what to do: no water, no ability to farm or let the livestock graze, a villager recently captured, surrounded by Azeris from 3 sides, who are 300 m away from them. Hearing Azeri gunfire has unfortunately become an everyday thing here. Yet, despite everything, the residents are back and rebuilding their homes.
On the 27th of September in Martuni, there were 12 strikes in the space of 4 minutes. They included one that mortally wounded an 8-year-old girl, Victoria Gevorgyan, and left her 2-year-old brother Artsvik badly injured and traumatized.
13 civilians were killed in the violent and indiscriminate bombarding of Martuni. Most of the 6000 people who lived here had either fled or stayed in bunkers, the town is almost entirely in ruins.
In January alone, an area of more than 160 hectares in this province was cleared of explosive objects and nearly 600 pieces of munitions, including artillery shells, anti-tank and land mines, air bombs, cluster bombs, fragments of Grad and Smerch missiles, and cartridges of various caliber were found in the peaceful town of Martuni.
Martuni (Armenian: Մարտունի) is a center of Artsakh’s Martuni region. The city had a population of about 6000 before the war. Excavations in Martuni have uncovered a number of tombs dating to the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. Martuni is also home to several ruined medieval churches and remains of settlements, and khachkars have also been preserved. 353 Armenian historical and architectural monuments have been preserved in the region, the oldest of which is the Amaras Monastery.
n Spitakashen (Armenian: Սպիտակաշեն, which means “white village”), a village in the Martuni region of Artsakh, we met some of the local residents and refugees from Shushi. One of the local residents is Ernest Yesayan, a celebrated local poet and a former soldier, who sees our salvation only in our unity. Another one was an elderly woman who lost 2 of her grandsons in this war, she recalls how the same grandsons were 2 years old during the first war and how she never thought they would be gone in a new war. Then we came across a refugee couple from Shushi how lost everything they had, even their paperwork. They found refuge in Spitakashen where their son resides and are having a hard time believing what has happened and say that it feels like a bad dream to them. Another local resident is knitting socks for her grandchildren and tells us all day she’s knitting here and praying for peace and for the future generations not to see any of the hardships she had. During the first war, she became a refugee with her children, this time with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
During the first war in the 90s, the Azerbaijani OMON carried out a complete deportation of the village. During this war, it was one of the first locations they shelled. The residents are now rebuilding and going back to work and school. Prior to the war, the village had about 500 residents.
The main road to the town of Martakert is now blocked, several surrounding villages are under the Azeri occupation, like Nor Maraga, Talish, Madagiz to name a few. During the war, the houses, shops, schools were shelled. The Martakert hospital was bombarded too and the HRW reported on this and other war crimes only today on Feb 26, 136 days after the strike by Azerbaijani rocket artillery on October 14, 2020.
On our visit we met a woman who lost her 18-year-old son and two brothers during this war, then a doctor who told us what it was like working at the hospital during the war, the type of patients they would receive, and how her own son, an 18-year-old soldier was in a blockade and got out miraculously. The residents have returned to their homes and are trying to move on. All anyone here wants — is to live freely and peacefully.
Martakert (Armenian: Մարտակերտ) the administrative capital of its Martakert Region of Artsakh and before the war had a population of about 5000. Before the war, it used to take 30 min by car to get to Martakert from Stepanakert. These days because of the blocked road which passes through Agdam it takes 2.5 hours by car due to a long detour.
There is no reliable source of water in the village of Yemishjan (Armenian: Եմիշճան) in the Martuni region of Artsakh. It had about 200 inhabitants before the war, 4 villagers have died because of the war and many were wounded.
We met a refugee from Baku who has survived the Baku Pogroms and has settled in the village since then. Her name is Karina and she was born in 1970 in Baku. She told us that she couldn’t speak Armenian and didn’t know Armenian history before coming to Artsakh.
We spoke to an officer who took part in this war and who lost his younger brother during it. He said that he was proud of the sacrifice his brother has made and that it wasn’t in vain, because today we are still on our land.
We also spoke to an elderly villager who was taking care of her 92 y.o. mother and stayed at their house for an entire month while the war was raging. She said that they didn’t know which corner of the cellar to stand in, so then if the house collapses from the bombs, they’re not crushed by the ruins.
Mkhitarashen (Armenian: Մխիթարաշեն) is a famous village of Artsakh’s Askeran region, on the road to Hunot gorge, located right under Shushi. It was falsely announced by Azerbaijan that they occupied this village, but as you can see it’s not true. It continues to be Armenian. Now Shushi is under Azerbaijani control, and Mkhitarashen is Armenian. The residents have returned to their border village, continue to live there, but are facing new problems.
The village is small but has many residents. During the recent war, it was heavily damaged, the villagers lost the surrounding areas used for farming, and their livestock is being stolen and slaughtered by the Azeris from the pasture. The residents are left with no jobs. They are constantly harassed and intimidated by the Azeris, who scream insults at the kids on their way to school and shoot their machine guns every night.
They all dream of peace and visiting Shushi again one day.
This is the final episode of the 1st season of my documentary series. We shot it last week in Nngi (Armenian: Ննգի) is a village in the Martuni region of Artsakh. Nngi is situated on two hills in a horseshoe-shaped hollow that has been famous for its potters and gardeners since ancient times. Here we met with a 1st Karabakh War hero who was fighting side by side with Avo and took part in the recent war too. 2 other people we talked to have lost family members to both this and the previous Karabakh wars.
Almost all residents have returned and are repairing their houses which got bombarded by Azeris. Many villagers got killed during the war, there are several people missing in action as well as prisoners of war still detained in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan fired at this settlement with cluster missiles like Smerch and targeted residential areas of Nngi. As a result of the strike, three women were wounded, one house was completely leveled to the ground, other houses and civilian infrastructure of the community were also damaged to varying degrees.
“Considering that there are no military objects near the community, and given the fact that a prohibited wide-range cluster missile was used in a densely populated area, it is clear that the Azerbaijani armed forces had criminal intent to target the civilian population and objects”, the Human Rights Defender’s Office said about the targeting of this village.
We begin Season 2 with a visit to the village of Kert (Armenian: Քերթ) in Artsakh’s Martuni region where we learned about a horrendous attack on an ambulance and trucks from an eye witness. More than 40 people died from this one drone strike by Azerbaijan; they burnt alive. Armed drones are a weapon of mass destruction and should be illegal.
Another villager working in the field with her aching legs recalls the horror of bombardment by Azerbaijan. She tells us that her son is still suffering from PTSD and is not himself. She wishes “to be reunited with Armenia, and not be snatched by Azerbaijan again”.
We met with a family of a missing soldier. They had no contact with their son Arthur for the past 6 months and the evidence indicates that he is in captivity, but they can’t get confirmation— Azerbaijan won’t release the full list of POWs (prisoners of war). His bride-to-be and entire family pray for his return and hope that he’s being treated well. Unfortunately, the recent @Human Rights Watch report confirmes that Armenian POWs in Azerbaijan are subjected to torture and inhumane treatment. “The abuse, including torture of detained Armenian soldiers, is abhorrent and a war crime,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe & Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “It is also deeply disturbing that a number of missing Armenian soldiers were last seen in Azerbaijan’s custody and it has failed to account for them.” Full report: https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/03/19/azerbaijan-armenian-pows-abused-custody.
The village of Kherkhan (Armenian: Խերխան) in Martuni region lost 10% of its population to both wars. We met a little boy who’s heartbroken about the loss of his dad. His mom told us that she had 12 kids together with her late husband. He came to Artsakh as a refugee from the Baku pogroms in 1990, during which his father was brutally killed. She told us that her husband was captured by Azeris once before but miraculously managed to escape. This time he didn’t come back, she said.
A refugee family from Hadrut is settled here too. One resident told us that they are still waiting to go back to their home. She said losing her home caused her immense soul ache, one that can’t be cured.
An elderly resident who refused to leave during the evacuation of the civilians later was saved by her sister, and was almost caught in a crossfire, recalls her memories of the war in the 90s. She said that this felt like ethnic cleansing, like genocide in 1915. She reminded us that the man who killed Enver Pasha (one of the perpetrators of the 1915 Armenian Genocide) was killed by Hakob Melkumov, who was born in Kherkhan too.
The village of Yeghtsahogh (Armenian: Եղցահող) is in Shushi Region of Artsakh, very close to the Lachin corridor. We met a Soviet Army veteran, who recalls what coexistence with Azeris was like during the Soviet times. In the army, he met many Azeris and says they were shocked to find out that he’s Armenian because they’re taught that Armenians are worse than snakes and east babies. Now when reflecting on the recent war, he compared it with the 1915 genocide and says that it never ended.
The head of this community told us the same thing, that it’s still genocide and instead of Djemal Pasha there’s now Aliyev. Recalls 1000s of instances of hate crimes and massacres and pogroms against Armenians. Says Azeris tried to capture nearby villages even after the ceasefire and threatened to shell the civilians if Armenians didn’t leave.
An elderly resident of the village told us how her son was taken prisoner in the first war in the 90s. They are still waiting for his return to this day. Today there are more than 200 Armenian prisoners of war from the recent war that Azerbaijan refuses to release and subjects them to routine torture. The old woman says that her wounds were reopened in the worst way after seeing the recent war. She still wishes for peace and lives with hope.
The village of Machkalashen (Armenian: Մաճկալաշեն) is in the Martuni Region of Artsakh. It has become a border village too after the recent war.
Here the community leader organized the self-defense of the village together with the residents. They fought bravely but lost 10 people, and 6 got wounded, including himself. The new Azeri post is 1km away now. The village lost the majority of the farming grounds, there’s hardly 1ha of land left for each family. In the little land they have left, the residents keep finding explosives. There were no military objects in the village, yet it was heavily bombarded. The head of the community says that people here do not feel safe. The livestock keeps wandering away and gets stolen by Azeris continuously.
A father of a martyr shares with us how the loss of his son affected them. Says that he doesn’t want to live anymore and can’t find the strength to leave his house. His wife struggles even more. He lost 3 other family members to this war too.
Another father tells the story of finding his son wounded and then fighting for life for 17 days in the hospital. He didn’t survive, unfortunately. His father too is having a hard time finding the strength to carry on. He says he only lives for his granddaughter, his son’s daughter who is now left without any parents. He can’t bring himself to tell her the truth about her dad’s passing and tells her that he’s still in the hospital. She says she wants to become a doctor to heal her dad.
This episode is about 2 neighbouring villages Mirushen & Avdur (Armenian: Միրուշեն & Ավդուռ) in the Martuni Region of Artsakh, which have become border villages after the trilateral agreement. In first village we met a shepherd who told us how 3 Azeri soldiers threatened to kill him and take his sheep. The incident has been documented by the local authorities, yet no news outlet reported on it. The man got away only because a passing by car intervened. He says he was expecting anything from them and thinks this type of thing will keep happening.
We met a little boy who recalls the moment the war began and tells us that he didn’t have time to pack his toys when his family was fleeing the bombardment. He told us about his friend, Dro who got wounded and almost lost his eye as the result of the Azeri attack in the autumn of 2020. He says that he wants to buy and house and a car, what he doesn’t want is war.
Two senior citizens reflect on the vicious cycle of war that 3 generations of Armenians had to go through. They say that they do not feel safe right now under the constant watch of Azeris, and are always alert and ready to defend themselves again an attack. Many have left the villages because of that, they say that they can’t raise their children in a place where they are defenceless targets for Azeris watching over the hills from only 300m away. They say children suffer from PTSD too and parents don’t know how to deal with that. Many also leave because of economic reasons, their livestock is being stolen by Azeris together with their farming grounds.
One of the elderly men rightfully compared the recent atrocities against Armenians to genocide. Says his grandson, who is now buried in Yerablur, was unrecognisable when they found him found. For a peaceful future they see it necessary to have Shushi and Hadrut returned to Artsakh, as well as all the MIA found and POWs returned. #FreeArmenianPOWs
Norshen (Armenian: Նորշեն) is in Artsakh’s Martuni Region. It became a bordering village after the recent war too. Here we met a civilian POW (Prisoner of War) from the first war in the 90s who told us about the tortures he and his friends endured and how the horrors of that don’t leave them, how after the torture for days from Azeris hands they wanted to get rid of them and were planning to either sell them in a slave market or throw their bodies into a river. Then another Azeri civilian offered to buy one of them to perform a human sacrifice. Luckily they all survived the tortures and were eventually exchanged. Now he prays for the return of 200+ Armenian POWs from the recent war which Azerbaijan refuses to release and tortures very cruelly as reported by @Human Rights Watch & @VICE News #FreeArmenianPOWs
A refugee from Sumgait who lives in this village now told us what she was up to when the last year’s war began and what it felt like. She then told us how they were saved from the Sumgait pogroms by a Russian and Azeri couple, and how the city was ethnically cleansed of Armenians as a result of the pogrom. She remembers how Armenians were beaten to death on the streets or set on fire by an Azer mod. How girls and women were beaten, raped then killed while their families were made to watch it all. Now, this refugee and many others live in fear, because even with the ceasefire and peacekeepers no one can feel safe with armed Azeri soldiers around. A shepherd was recently captured when herding the cattle and taken as prisoner. Luckily he wasn’t harmed and was released later on. But even with mounting troubles that came after the war, the residents still won’t leave the village and keep dreaming of peace and just borders.
The POW crisis in Artsakh and Armenia continues, unfortunately. In Martakert’s Khnkavan (Armenian: Խնկավան) village we met 2 families whose loved ones are missing and are thought to be in captivity in Azerbaijan. POWs captured during or shortly after the war must be released at once as per international law, yet more than half a year later, they still are not, moreover, they are being routinely tortured and humiliated in Azerbaijan as reported by @Human Rights Watch & @VICE News.
This man lost his father even before he was born, has no siblings and now his mother is thought to be a POW. Everyone from her group is either killed or missing, as is she. Her commander is also allegedly in captivity with her, his father received several phone calls from his number after he went missing, but no one would speak on the other end.
This young woman’s 25-year-old husband is missing too. He was left alone by the roadside after being critically wounded by shrapnel. When his friends came for him he was one and the only thing left behind was his broken phone. He too is thought to have become a POW. This happened on the first day of the 2020 war, 8 months ago.
All their families hope they are alive and will come back home. Currently, there are 200+ Armenian POWs illegally held in Azerbaijan. #FreeArmenianPOWs
Mikael (Misha) became a POW (prisoner of war) at the age of 18, having joined the army to do his mandatory 2-year military service on July 20th. Two months later the 2nd Artsakh war broke out on September 27, 2020, when Azerbaijan attacked Artsakh. Most of those 2 months he spent in quarantine and had very limited combat training.
He lost his best friend the day before he got shot and captured by Azeris on October 20th. His leg was critically injured and he lost so much blood he doesn’t remember how he got to Baku. There he was luckily operated on and his leg was saved but he was prematurely released from the hospital and rushed to prison with all Armenian POWs. After much abuse and starvation in prison, the Red Cross met with him and he eventually returned home on December 14, along with 44 other prisoners of war. Unfortunately, there are still hundreds of Armenian prisoners of war illegally held in Azerbaijan. We don’t know anything about their fate yet. #FreeArmenianPOWs
Mikael is still unable to walk due to being shot in the leg twice, several surgeries and years of rehabilitation are still ahead of him. He dreams of early recovery so he can help his family. The greenhouse where they grew vegetables was the family’s only source of income. It was shelled during the war and they still can’t rebuild it due to lack of funds. His family spent everything they had on covering his medical bills, with which they got no government assistance to this day. Their small business growing vegetables was shelled and now they have no income and no means of restoring their business or covering any upcoming medical bills.
So my sister and I decided to launch a fundraiser for Mikael and his family. I sincerely hope that we can pull together as a community and get Mikael and his family some much-needed help. Donate here if you’d like to help: https://gofund.me/5de76a10
We met a refugee from Baku in Patara/Ptretsik (Armenian: Պատարա/Պտրեցիկ), a village in Askeran, Artsakh, which is home to many wild horses. He escaped pogroms with his children, was attacked on the train to Russia, saved by his friend, and arrived in Armenia. A few days later the whole country witnessed the 1988 Spitak earthquake that killed 50 000 Armenians and injured 130 000. After moving to Artsakh where he was born, the war broke out in 1991, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He recalls the horrors of the first Karabakh war, how all of NKR was in a blockade with no supplies, destined to be completely annihilated and miraculously saved. Now after the recent war he can’t imagine coexistence and says that 100 years must pass till we can live without peacekeepers.
Another resident recalls how her grandson came running and told her that the war began and how the young women started leaving with the village with children, men were on the frontlines and only the elderly remained. The shelling of the civilian infrastructure kept going and they were being urged to leave too, but they were mourning the death of their grandson and refused. Eventually, they were evacuated. After the war when Aliyev came to Shushi and they shot fireworks from there, everyone thought that they started shelling Armenians around Shushi, as they did in the 90s. The woman tells us about the PTSD everyone is suffering from, especially children, and how they get scared at every loud noise. She also recalls coexistence during the Soviet times and remembers a family friend, Savet, a young Azeri man, who was like a family member to them. Now she can’t imagine how coexistence is possible after having witnessed the horrors of another war.
Yet, both while finding it difficult to imagine coexistence, agree on and want only one thang — peace, saying “There is nothing better than peace, nothing more important than peace.”
We met another refugee from Baku pogroms, who became a refugee again after the 2020 war resulted in the ethnic cleansing of Shushi where her family lived, now lives in Harav (Armenian: Հարավ), a village in Askeran, Artsakh. She recalls the horrors of pogroms against Armenians and how they were forced to flee the violence, how her aunt was brutally murdered trying to save her son. And after that unimaginable terror arriving in Artsakh to only witness 3 more wars and become a refugee again and lose even more family members.
Today she says: “May my people live in peace! We may have to cut one bread in half, we may face difficulties, but we wish to live on our native land and be independent.” A local resident of Harav talks to us about what peace means for him, how he only wishes to live in Artsakh. He recalls the times when his best friend was an Azeri boy. After the recent Azeri war crimes, he says that he can’t imagine coexistence like before again. Yet all he wants is peace and grieves the loss of life this war caused, but recognizes the current situation as very tense.
A young man told us what it was like to go through the 2020 war from the moment it began, how his family thought he had died, and how he saw 70% of his battalion die, his friend shot in front of his eyes, 2 trucks with 40 soldiers burning alive before he stepped into one of them. He says that he struggles a lot now because of what he had to witness and when the war ended he didn’t know how he was supposed to continue living afterward. But adds: “Then I realized that so many people had died for us to live in our native land. And it is because of their sacrifice that I am here today and able to speak with you.”
We bring you the final episode of this season from Khachmach (Armenian: Խաչմաչ), a village in Askeran, Artsakh. Here we interviewed a fellow filmmaker, Arnold Krikor Ghazarian, a native of the village, who, like many others, was forced to take arms and defend his homeland in a war raged by Azerbaijan on Sep 27, 2020. Arnold told us about what he and his brothers in arms had to go through during the war and how he was saved after being wounded in battle. Arnold shares his thoughts and feelings about what the war took from people and what it gave them instead.
An elderly lady talked to us about the struggles of building a life after the first war and seeing it all destroyed and stolen away in the second Karabakh war. Dreams and hopes of peace don’t leave her despite all the hardships.
We will be back with a new season at the beginning of August. Thank you all for supporting our work and helping us show the world what life in Artsakh after the 2020 war is like. Donate here to help fund our work: https://gofund.me/1e0c9651