4 Feb 05

OSCE monitoring Mission Visiting Aghdam

Garik Stepanian, 25, lost his father and home at the age of 12. Today
he lives in Nor Marakha with his wife and two children. Garik's
fatherdied in a hospital in Armenia where he was taken after being
wounded in a battle in Martakert. He was buried in Aramus village as
the family did not have meansto transport the body to native Maragha.

`Azeris killed many children and old people', Garik said. He said that
the villagers gather at a monument to the war victims every April 10
and remember the killed relatives.

Since 1992 now Maragha and 5 other villages have been under
Azerbaijan‚=80=99s control. The village had 4.000 people before
enemy's occupation. Only few hundreds of resettled in Nor Maragha, the
others spread out all over vast Russia.

The OSCE monitoring mission spent few hours at the village on February
2. Head of the village administration, Roma Arustamian, told Emily
Haber, headof the mission, that all the villagers would go back to
their homes if the Azeris leave the village. `When will they leave our
villages? We are waiting to go to our homes and lead a normal life. No
international organization has visitedus for 10 years. Why do they
help the Azeri refugees but neglect us?', Arustamian was complaining
to Mrs. Haber.

But the monitoring mission had other goals. Though Mrs. Haber told
Arustamian that they will do everything possible to help people, it
was obvious that the European and American `fact-finders' were not
that interested in, say, 52-year-old Aida Yeremian who left her house,
50 sheep and orchard at the other side of communication line.

The story of every Maragha family is a sad story. Maragha is one of
the painful spots after Karabakh war; many killed and still more
counted missing.

Elmira Sahakian, 57, lost her 21-year-old son and husband. Mrs. Elmira
settled in Nor Maragha with her son and daughter. Her son is the only
one who works in the family.

Zoya Sargsian, 70, lost her three sons, two of them were killed and
the youngest is missing. Her two daughters-in-law left for Russia with
their children, and Mrs. Zoya lives alone waiting to hear her
grandchildren's voicein the phone from time to time.

Members of the monitoring mission finished reviving the old wounds of
Nor Maragha villagers and continued their search of newly built houses
in their Jeeps.

Before moving on to new regions, the head of the mission called a
short press conference. Answering daily Azg's question, Emily Haber
said that the Karabakh authorities keep supporting the mission's
activities and that `we are enabled to carry out our tasks'. She added
that the mission will make a report and will leave it to Minsk group
to deal with.

Tens of former citizens of Chaylu village in Martakert region settled
in Nor Aygestan village. Chaylu has been under Azerbaijan's occupation
since 1992 now.

The villagers think that the foreigners riding about on Jeeps came
apparently to distribute humanitarian aid. Despite the palpable
poverty the villagers were inviting Finn Vesa Jaako Vasara and
American Luis O'Neal and other members of the mission to their homes.

Chaylu was conquered in June of 1992. Tens died on the battlefield,
around 20 villagers were encircled in Lachin corridor and are counted
missing together with other 200 refugees.

The scene of human tragedy could not leave the OSCE European and
American mission members untouched but they do not have enough time to
go through every live story.

By Tatoul Hakobian in Aghdam-Nor Maragha