The Right to Live – Levon Melik-Shahnazaryan

The Right to Live

At the beginning of 1992, in Krkzhan, a suburb of Stepanakert, ours captured a senior lieutenant of the armed forces of Azerbaijan wounded in the leg. He was interrogated and placed in the isolation ward. A few days later, I visited him with guests from Moscow.

He was crying, and a heavy smell emanated from his wounded leg. I immediately contacted our surgeon Valera Marutyan and asked him to operate the prisoner. Valera did everything right (an excellent surgeon, he simply could not work otherwise) and then also thanked me – he said that had we been even a day late, the prisoner would have developed gangrene.

A few days later, I again visited the prisoner. He looked much better, and there was no smell. I asked him what he would like and heard in reply: “Sugar”. The guy lost a lot of blood and obviously needed a nutritious diet.

But… In the besieged Stepanakert, even we didn’t have sugar at our homes! There was some chocolate though, gifts from the guests from Moscow. My wife would give the chocolate to the children once every two days.

Having taken all the sweets and explained to my sons that I was taking them to the wounded prisoner, I again went to the isolation ward. I had to see how “my” prisoner would eat them.

He again cried, was eager to kiss my hands, and swore by all his saints that he would never forget me in his life. He understood everything. He realized that we had no sugar, realized that I brought him the sweets of my half-starved children…

After about a month, we exchanged the officer for our fighter, and he, lively and healthy, went home to Baku. And soon we, a group of friends, saw him on Azerbaijani television. He answered questions from journalists, and we watched our recent prisoner with interest.

Suddenly, one young journalist asked him: “What do you think should be done to end the Armenians in Karabakh?”

The officer made an oval with his fingers and thumbs (I will never forget this gesture of his) and said: “The blockade must be strengthened. They are starving there, even their leadership at home has no sugar. I know that for sure – they are starving, and if we step up the blockade and shoot down helicopters with provisions flying in Karabakh, they will either starve to death or surrender to us.”

I am still grateful to my friends, alive or fallen – none of them have reproached me with a word or a gesture.

However, today, I think differently – only that askyar who comes to us with a white flag has the right to live. All other creatures in the form of an Azerbaijani askyar must be destroyed, regardless of whether Azerbaijan resumes aggression against Armenian states or not.

Levon Melik-Shahnazaryan

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