“Civil Society Institute has been the only organization in Armenia to remember the names of all the sons killed in ceasefire name by name… You cannot imagine the parents’ joy when they see their son’s name mentioned in the newspaper… ”, says Aghunik Ghukasyan, the President of the “Ceasefire։ The Pain of Human Loss” NGO.
On November 18-20 upon the initiative of “Civil Society Institute” (CSI) NGO a training workshop entitled “Capacity for Conflict Resolution in the Context of Trust building” took place for mothers and widows of military personnel and civilians killed as a result of ceasefire violation. The training was held at “Mountainous Armenia” sanitarium in Dilijan with the support of the Ministry of Defense of Armenia.
The meeting was organized in cooperation with “Ceasefire. The Pain of Human Loss” NGO which is aimed to to deal with the problems of families of military personnel and civilians killed as a result of ceasefire violation.
“The aim of this training workshop is to reveal the problems and challenges faced by the families of people killed as a result of ceasefire violation, as well as to specify and plan the activities of the newly-founded organization”, said Artak Kirakosyan, Chair of the Board of the Civil Society Institute.
He stated that CSI supported the mothers so that they were able to create a platform of mutual aid and make themselves heard. “We have shared both laughs and tears and I can say that we do feel the change, the mothers feel the changes in their attitude towards the tragedy and life itself. They do manage to overcome the mental isolation and grief. We want the mothers who have lost a son to understand that they are not alone in their grief, they are not overlooked”, mentioned Artak Kirakosyan.
During the three-day training workshop the participants visited Haghartsin Monastery where they lit candles in the memory and for the rest of the souls of their dead sons and husbands. On the same day in the evening the participants met and dined with Katherine Leach, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United Kingdom to the Republic of Armenia. With the support of the United Kingdom CSI started implementing the project “Ceasefire։ The Pain of Human Loss” in 2012. As an outcome upon the initiative of the mothers the homonymic NGO was founded this year.
On the second day of the meeting the participants discussed and defined the aims and further activities of the newly-founded organization. A discussion on the importance of trust building in the context of conflict resolution took place. The meeting agenda also included the screening of the documentary “Ceasefire” made by CSI. It was filmed in 2013 in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the mothers’ participation.
“Civil Society Institute has been the first organization in Armenia to remember the names of all the sons killed in ceasefire one by one and every mother can confirm that. Up to date they continue getting to know with more families by making and publishing a series of articles about them”, says Aghunik Ghukasyan, the President of the “Ceasefire։ The Pain of Human Loss” NGO.
According to her, it is hard to even get the parent who has lost her child to leave the house. But CSI has managed to do more than that: “All the mothers state that these meetings help them a lot and they want them to be organized more often. We have managed to overcome our grief. Nowadays there is an atmosphere of mutual aid. Before the mothers used to come holding their killed sons’ photos. They were not able to utter a single word, tell about their children. They could do nothing but cry all the time. This time it was different, they were more open, they would speak and share their feelings, they would give advice to each other on how to soothe the incredible pain. Pain unites all the people…”, believes Mrs. Aghunik whose son Narek Margaryan was killed by a bullet of an Azeri sniper in 2010.
She tells that one of the mothers, whose son was killed in 2000, has participated in such a meeting for the first time. “One can hardly imagine her feelings when I called her and uttered “Arshak” – her killed son’s name. Her voice was trembling. She said that no one had called her for 14 years since her son was killed, no one had remembered about her. She came to the meeting and shared her grief with the other mothers. No one can understand a mother who has lost her son better than her sisters in misfortune”, added Mrs. Aghunik.
The mothers have decided to invite their husbands to participate in the coming meetings as well for they also need to speak out the pain nested in their hearts.
Since 2012 “Civil Society Institute” has been preparing and publishing a series of articles about the military personnel and civilians killed as a result of ceasefire violation. The series is published in “Aravot” newspaper.
“It is hard to imagine the joy of the parent when an article about his/her son is published in a newspaper. We phone and inform each other about it, we pass each other the newspaper to read… It brings peace to our souls”, says Mrs. Aghunik. “We need nothing but some attention. We need it. We need the government to know and remember our sons, to appreciate them. I would like other organizations to have an opportunity of supporting our NGO to secure our future work”, she added.
The newly-founded NGO has decided to apply to the President of Nagorno Karabakh asking to open a “Hall of Glory” in Artsakh to perpetuate the memory of their sons. “The young generation must see today’s heroes side by side with the Artsakh heroes. They must remember the name of every single person for they have given their lives defending their mother land. If we do not value their deeds today, no one would do that tomorrow. It is history, it is a part of our history”, she mentioned.
Documentary "Ceasefire" made by Civil Society Institute.