The Vanadzor office of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly said in its annual report that in 2022, 54 deaths of military personnel were recorded in the Armenian armed forces, which is twelve fewer than in 2021. For a number of reasons, however, the organization did not include in this figure those who died in fighting on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border on September 13-14.
JAMnews added up the figures from the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly and the official numbers of those killed in the September clashes, and the figure came to 275 people.
Thus, the data for 2022 appears unprecedented in terms of the number of soldiers killed in peacetime.
According to official data, 224 Armenians were killed in the large-scale hostilities of September 2022, three of whom were civilians. According to the investigative committee, three more soldiers are considered missing. Speaking at the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, Pashinyan called these events as “an unprovoked aggression by Azerbaijan against the sovereign territory of Armenia.”
After the end of hostilities, Azerbaijan returned seventeen prisoners and the bodies of 156 dead soldiers to Armenia.
Causes of military deaths
According to the HCA Vanadzor office, the causes of death of soldiers in non-combat situations were ceasefire violations, health problems, accidents, and deliberate killings. The organization summarized the data on the number of incidents:
The latest cause death of not in a combat situation was a fire in a military unit in the Gegharkunik region on January 18, where fifteen men died.
In 2022, the majority of suicides and homicides – ten out of twelve cases – were on active duty.
The HCA Vanadzor office believes that such figures “indicate the presence of hazing in the armed forces and the insufficient level of psychological work and attention to personnel in military units.”
At the beginning of 2020, JAMnews and the Armenian human rights organization “Peace Dialogue” prepared a review “On the causes of the death of soldiers in the Armenian army and the investigation of these cases.”
The Vanadzor office of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly reported that 24 cases of military deaths were not publicly reported at all, and only thirty incidents were officially disseminated — which means that 42% of the cases were hidden from public attention.
The organization’s experts concluded that the number of incidents and the causes of death indicate “the ineffectiveness of reforms in the armed forces.” They recall that the priorities of these reforms under the government program for 2021-2026 are:
The human rights organization believes that from the point of view of protecting the rights of military personnel and ensuring discipline, “it is of decisive and essential importance” to improve the quality of military education.
The Vanadzor office of the Helsinki Citizens’ Information Assembly also included in its report information about the deaths of ten soldiers of the unrecognized NKR in 2022.