This article was written over the course of more than 2 months as part of the project "Young Voices." After the publication of the article, Karabakh veteran Jalal Sarkhanov contacted the author to say that the issue had already been resolved. Another Karabakh veteran, Nurlan Azizzadeh, says that his problem was resolved, too, when the YASHAT Foundation contacted him. He received an operation a few days later. Elchin Aliyev's problem remains unresolved, however.
"I wish I’d been killed, instead of living to see this day"
"I wish I’d been killed in the war instead of living to see this day," said Jalal Gadir oghlu Sarkhanov, who fought in the Second Karabakh War. ”A victorious country’s troops shouldn’t be treated this way. "
Sarkhanov, 25, is a resident of the village of Gejagozlu in the region of Fizuli.
"There’s shrapnel in my body"
Volunteering for the war that began in September last year, Sarkhanov took part in the battles in Fizuli and Shusha.
On October 12, he was seriously wounded in the battle for Fizuli and received first aid at a military hospital there: "On October 15, I was evacuated to the Main Clinical Hospital of the Armed Forces. At the hospital, I was diagnosed with a concussion, traumatic brain injury, and acute pancreatitis. Although I hadn’t completed my treatment, I went to fight in the battles for Shusha."
Sarkhanov, who says he hasn’t been rewarded for his bravery during the war, still has health problems.
According to the veteran, there are pieces of shrapnel in his body and he often suffers from his concussion. ”I can't take care of myself, let alone my sick parents. I wish I’d been killed instead of living like this. My family would have even received compensation."
"Since the war, my condition is always changing, I go from one state to another,” complains Sarkhanov. “I’ve lost my health, I’m always dizzy. There are pieces of shrapnel in my body, too. I’m the only son in the family, my father has a group 1 disability from Karabakh, and my mother is on dialysis. Apart from that, I’m married myself, I have a child, and I’m going to be a father again. I can neither support my family nor take care of my parents."
Complaining about the indifference he has encountered, Sarkhanov said that although he applied to the YASHAT Foundation regarding his financial difficulties and his health, they said they could not help him.
The reason for their refusal was that he had not lost his ability to work. “If I’d known it would be like this, I wouldn’t have volunteered. I was told that if I’d lost any part of my body, then they’d help. At this point, I’d agree to let my son grow up without a father. Why should our veterans, who returned victorious, have to live so miserably today?! The YASHAT Foundation says, ‘You’re still able to work, we can't help you.’ They don't understand that my health is terrible and so is my financial situation."
Four months after the end of the war, a group of veterans returning from military service held a rally in front of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection.
They were complaining about the incompetence and indifference of government agencies
"They said they’d send me to Turkey, but I haven’t heard anything…"
Senior lieutenant Nurlan Magsud oghlu Azizzadeh also fought in the Second Karabakh War. Like other veterans, the 27-year-old senior lieutenant has suffered from indifference.
A resident of the village of Girdani in the region of Lankaran, Azizzadeh graduated from Jamshid Nakhchivanski Military High School in 2016. He subsequently entered the Heydar Aliyev Azerbaijan Higher Military Academy.
Having dedicated his life to the army, the senior lieutenant fought on the front lines in September 2020 in the Second Karabakh War.
During a battle, he was wounded by a landmine:
"I took part in the Patriotic War on September 27. During a battle, I set off a landmine, receiving a closed head injury and a concussion as well as a shrapnel wound in my right arm. As a result of the injury, I can’t use the elbow of my right arm. On September 27, I was first taken to a military hospital in Ganja. The next day I was transferred to the Main Clinical Hospital of the Armed Forces. On September 29, I had an operation and on November 2, I was released from the hospital."
Azizzadeh says that his health problems keep him from sleeping at night: "The pain is gradually getting worse. I applied to the YASHAT Foundation, but there’s still no word about an operation. On February 22, I received a call from the military hospital saying that Turkish doctors would see me. Employees of the YASHAT Foundation were also present. They took my information and registered me. After the exam, they said that my arm was in a bad state, and that they’d send me to Turkey as soon as possible. But I still haven’t heard anything."
Later, Azizzadeh called the YASHAT Foundation: "After a long time had passed, I called the YASHAT Foundation’s Call Center. They told me I had to register online. I registered and filled out an application, but no one contacted me. I called again, but they said that my name wasn’t registered. Although I was in bad health, I came to Baku. The YASHAT Foundation said that my name was on the list, but that they didn’t have a doctor’s report about my health problems. When I asked at the hospital again, they said they’d sent the report."
"If another war breaks out, nothing could make me fight"
"If another war breaks out, nothing could make me fight,” says Elchin Aliyev, a participant in both the Four Day War in 2016 and the Second Karabakh War. “I fought in two wars and I found out that patriotism only lasts a week at most here."
Wounded in the most recent war, Aliyev says that no one cares about his health either: "No one cares about me anymore. Right now I’m scraping by in rented apartments. During the war, poor people like us were supposedly the most respected class. Did we take the land for the rich to go enjoy it?"
"I fought in the April 2016 battles, and in 2020 I was drafted and served in the army in the Patriotic War,” says Aliyev. “I fought in Fizuli, Jabrayil, Gubadli, and Zangilan. I was wounded in battle in Shusha. Since returning from the war, not a single person has come to our door and asked about me."
"At the Central Clinical Hospital they asked me for a bribe"
He received shrapnel wounds in his left eye during the fighting. When he applied to the YASHAT Foundation, he was asked to provide documentation: ""I went to the Central Clinical Hospital to get the document, but they asked for a bribe. This is an abuse of power. Doctors expect money from war veterans. My body was full of shrapnel. During the war, I was severely wounded in my left eye. I was going out of my mind from the terrible condition I was in. After the operation, when I said that my eyesight was poor, the doctors disregarded me. They said that I should have told them about this problem before. How could an unconscious person say that his eyesight isn’t good? After the war, I submitted my documents to the Central Clinical Hospital. "They said to me and a group of veterans, 'You help us, and we'll help you,' meaning, ‘Give us a bribe.’ People in Turkey will do anything for a veteran, but in our country they’ll kick a veteran and drown him.”
Aliyev says that he is currently unemployed and has difficulty supporting his family: "We don’t get any compensation for our suffering. The indifference of government agencies affects people."
YASHAT Foundation: "There’s a quarantine in Turkey, so it’s delayed…"
Regarding veteran Jalal Sarkhanov’s complaint, Fakhri Aliyev, an employee of the YASHAT Foundation, said that persons with disabilities must submit a certification of injury to the foundation.
He said that senior lieutenant Nurlan Azizzadeh's application to the foundation has been registered and that his departure to Turkey has been delayed because of the quarantine currently in force there.
Lawyer: "If the application isn’t reviewed, the Ministry of Defense and the YASHAT Foundation should be sued"
Lawyer Alasgar Mammadli says the veterans’ status should be kept in mind: "The applications of Jalal Sarkhanov and Nurlan Azizzadeh should be investigated. Article 13 of the Law on the Status of Military Servicemen states that servicemen have the right to health care and compensation for injuries, all of which should be paid for by the state. From this point of view, I think that they should contact the Main Medical Department of the Ministry of Defense and demand immediate action. If they receive a refusal, the refusal must accordingly be appealed in court. The matter must be disputed first administratively or in court. Meanwhile, if the YASHAT Foundation fails to react, a lawsuit can be filed against the foundation."
“If the bribery incident is confirmed, the doctors should be removed from the system"
"As for Elchin Aliyev's complaint, it’s a bit tricky. If the military hospital asked for a bribe to issue the document required by the YASHAT Foundation, this should be investigated, because it’s difficult to prove bribery. It helps when a person has evidence such as a video or an audio recording. If there really are such complaints but specific instances cannot be proven, they should be reported to law enforcement. If the incident is confirmed after an investigation, the doctors should be removed from the system. Generally speaking, the Ministry of Defense and its agencies are directly responsible in all matters relating to veterans and military personnel. As I mentioned earlier, Article 13 of the Law on the Status of Military Servicemen directly applies to the ministry’s agencies."
The Ministry of Defense has released a new list of servicemen killed or missing in the Second Karabakh War, which began on September 27, 2020.
The list includes the names of the 2,900 fallen servicemen of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan who were buried by June 2, as well as the names of 14 others who are considered missing, along with their photos, military ranks, and dates of birth.