Doctors of the Artsakh War

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By Galust Nanyan

The bilingual (Armenian-English) book-chronicle “They were depicting the war” was published back in 2017. It was dedicated to the cinematographers and cameramen who risked their lives to document the Artsakh War from 1991-1994, memorializing the Artsakh chronicles on the front line. The book contains interviews with 34 documentarians, encompassing their biographical data, filmography and a selection of films in two CDs.

The two presentations of the book took place in Yerevan and Beirut and received wide acclaim both in the Armenian and Diaspora press. In a conversation with “Hairenik,” one of the book’s authors Ruzanna Bagratunyan (another compiler is Anahit Harutyunyan) mentioned that the collection “They were depicting the war” was dedicated to the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Armenia (RA) and the formation of the RA Armed Forces.

“Taking into account the success of the mentioned book in professional circles (NB. the whole edition was sold out), two years ago we started preparing another book-chronicle by the working title ‘Doctors of the Artsakh War’,” said Bagratunyan, stressing the fact that when the Artsakh war broke out Armenia did not have a regular army, thus, there was no experience in providing medical care in accordance with the war situation. “Just as volunteer warriors went to the front of their own volition, so did doctors and nurses, so in the beginning the medical care was unorganized and rather instinctive. Doctors went to the front voluntarily or made self-organized groups,” she remarked.

The protagonists of the future book shall be the doctors and nurses who provided medical care in field hospitals, combat detachments and medical institutions on the military front during the Artsakh War from 1991-1994. They provided medical assistance to the soldiers who were fighting for the freedom of their homeland on the front line, saved hundreds of lives and helped the warriors return to the battlefield. In the most bitter moments of the war, they instilled hope and security, encouraged the fighters with their presence, and, if necessary, took up arms.

For two years Bagratunyan has conducted interviews with doctors and nurses, collected personal stories and photographs and recorded recollections of fallen heroes’ families. Grounded in their own stories and testimonies, the author has compiled a book which provides information about more than 100 medical workers – doctors and nurses – who provided medical services in battlefield hospitals, combat detachments and on the front lines of the Artsakh War between 1991and 1994. In fact, these people are the real witnesses of the Artsakh War.

The publication is expected to have great cognitive importance and become an effective tool in the enlightenment of future generations. Moreover, the book is likely to become even more vital under the constant danger of a resumption of war, especially when we receive daily news about the tense situation on the border and the heroism of our recruits.

“At this moment, the research phase of the book is over,” shared Bagratunyan. “We dare say we did replenish the lists of medical workers at the war. We work with an utmost care so that random people shall not find a place in the lists. The book already has a preliminary design (the final version being worked out at the moment) and all the collected material has been edited,” she said.

According to Bagratunyan, it is crucial to have the English version of the compiled book, as each story has excerpts about the activities of the International Committee of the Red Cross and Azerbaijani prisoners who received medical treatment and were exchanged through the help of the Red Cross. There are many similar stories and it is vital to make them known internationally.  

“Doctors of the Artsakh War” is also an important historical document, the only one of its kind, as there are no other books that narrate the war from the point of view of medical workers. “It is a powerful statement of the Armenian identity, a great advocate of peace. This book will also be an important tool for educating the youth,” said the author.

Evidence of historical events is invaluable for history and generations. These testimonies could also be a basis for political and legal documents. In that sense, the collection being prepared for publication will include rich archival material which is sure to be used later by researchers or chroniclers of the Artsakh War.

A GoFundMe has been established to assist Ruzanna Bagratunyan in publishing “Doctors of the Artsakh War.”

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Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles written and submitted by members of the community, which make up our community bulletin board.

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