Below are excerpts from the minutes on the interrogation of witnesses who had survived the hell of forced deportation from Armenian villages. These excerpts are from the publication of Lidia Grafova.
Martiros Hovsepyan, born in 1934, resident of Martunashen village:
…On April 28 or 29 – I don’t remember when exactly – my wife came home and anxiously told that we needed to run away from the village and hide in the forest. This was secretly advised by the Russian military, otherwise, ‘things would end badly.’ The next day, we woke up and saw that there were no Russian soldiers in the village. They had been the ones who were guarding us against offensives.
…We saw that on a hill, two hundred meters from our house, there were seven tanks, and the muzzles were aimed at the village. A little later, the village was gunned from assault rifles and cannons. Houses were burning, roofs were flying into the air. Helicopters appeared in the sky and opened fire at the village as well. This continued for about two hours. After the cease-fire, we learned that five of our fellow villagers were killed. The corpses of Hovhannes Hovhannesyan and Amir Alkamyan were crushed by tanks…
Emilia Parashyan, born in 1948, teacher in the village of Getashen:
On April 30, people in uniforms broke into my apartment and demanded my papers. My seventy-year-old mother and thirteen-year-old son were home with me. They hit me in the head with their guns, demanding me to sign a document that my family wants to voluntarily leave the village.
Riot policemen, meanwhile, searched the whole apartment, beat my mother, and grabbed my son by the throat. One of them spat in my face and said: “Your place is Yerevan, go there, this is not your land.” I was taken to the garage of the state farm where 29 men from our village were lying on the floor, including my husband. Then, we saw that our house had been completely turned into ashes.
May 13, Laura Avanesyan, Arakul village, Hadrut region:
Mother tried to calm the child down, but the riot police seized her, and, threatening to kill the child, attempted to rape her. Laura told them that she had lived in Russia for twenty years and was acquainted with high officials. After these words, she was released.
May 15, Yeghtsahogh village, Shushi district:
About twenty riot policemen broke into Hmayak Gabrielyan’s house, beat his son, stole 1.500 rubles and his wife’s rings, and took both men hostage. Then, they returned to the house, beat his wife and fifteen-year-old daughter. The daughter was also sexually harassed.
May 15, village of Metsshen, Shusha district:
Six riot policemen broke into the house of Anushavan Grigorian (born in 1952). His wife and 15 and 16 years old nieces were at home. When the riot police tried to rape the pregnant woman and underage girls in the basement, Grigoryan, a father of three children, rushed to help them. He was immediately killed by several shots.
A letter to the President of the USSR M. Gorbachev from a resident of the village of Jraberd (Djilan) in the Hadrut region Taguhi Sargsyan (written from her dictation):
I am 104 years old. My ancestors and my four sons were born in the village of Khtsaberd. They fought at the front. And suddenly, in broad daylight, a crowd broke into my house. They crushed everything. When I said that I wouldn’t leave my house even if they threatened to kill me, an Azerbaijani policeman kicked me in the chest. I fell. But when they attacked my son and daughter-in-law, I said that I would leave.
God punished me by not making me blind back in the days. I saw things that one should not see. We, half dressed, were driven by car for a long time. Then, we were literally thrown into an open field as if we were firewood that was thrown away. Among us was a child of several days of age. The beaten old man Edik Aleksanyan died on the way.
So, I lost everything and lost my home which I had never left in my 104 years. I don’t ask for anything. I want one thing – give me the right to die in my house.”