Women of Artsakh

Women of Artsakh

On the night of April 2, 2016, Azere forces attacked all along the contact line the border with Nagorno Karabakh, reopening in fact a conflict that had never officially closed. It was since 25 years there was an escalation of such violence. Practically every woman in the country, even the most disinterested previously in military and political issues, was actively involved in the events supporting on the web its soldiers and taking part in every kind of event or initiative. In fact every woman Karabakh or Artsakh, as it is called the country in the local language, have in the family a brother, a father, a son who is a professional military or who joined the army in last days. Many have the whole family in the army. They live waiting for their return with anxiety but, at the same time, it is thanks to their contribution that life in the country is able to move forward. In many, in fact, they hold important positions within the government and make decisions crucial to the future of this part of the world does not recognize from foreign countries hidden in the mountains of the Caucasus. From the simple family mother to the minister of culture and youth affairs, from the common employee in a beauty salon to cop to the head of the supreme court of justice, women are the soul of Karabakh, the strength of this country, in some ministries they account for 80% of employed personnel. They dream of independence made of peace to build a different future for their children. They love intensely, fight tenaciously, often suffer in silence, and believe in their traditions. They are brave and fragile. This is their story.

by Karl Mancini

On the night of April 2, 2016, Azere forces attacked all along the contact line the border with Nagorno Karabakh, reopening in fact a conflict that had never officially closed. It was since 25 years there was an escalation of such violence. Practically every woman in the country, even the most disinterested previously in military and political issues, was actively involved in the events supporting on the web its soldiers and taking part in every kind of event or initiative. In fact every woman Karabakh or Artsakh, as it is called the country in the local language, have in the family a brother, a father, a son who is a professional military or who joined the army in last days. Many have the whole family in the army. They live waiting for their return with anxiety but, at the same time, it is thanks to their contribution that life in the country is able to move forward. In many, in fact, they hold important positions within the government and make decisions crucial to the future of this part of the world does not recognize from foreign countries hidden in the mountains of the Caucasus. From the simple family mother to the minister of culture and youth affairs, from the common employee in a beauty salon to cop to the head of the supreme court of justice, women are the soul of Karabakh, the strength of this country, in some ministries they account for 80% of employed personnel. They dream of independence made of peace to build a different future for their children. They love intensely, fight tenaciously, often suffer in silence, and believe in their traditions. They are brave and fragile. This is their story.

Stepanakert, NKR. A woman is dancing with fresh wind on her hairs. Stepanakert, NKR. Ellada Dadayan (35) cries for the loss of her husband, lieutenant colonel Aram Arushanyan (born in 1972), veteran on Karabakh War, who died on the night of April 25/26. She has 4 children: Varduhi Arushanyan  (13), Ara Arushanyan (11), Meri Arushanyan (10), Aren Arushanyan (5). They come from Haterk village, region of Martakert and now live in Akhtamar Hotel together with other 127 displaced families from the villages destroyed during the 4 days war. "My husband never lied to me. That Shushi, NKR. Anna Ghukasyan (31)
As a child , Anna took classes of martial arts earning black belt in sanda wushu. She always dreamed about becoming a military girl. During the Artsakh war of 1990s bullets and gunpowder were her favourite toys. She would collect bullets and try to make explosives from gunpowder.
Anna studied journalism and worked as a military reporter thus always being on the frontline, never quitting to pursue her dream of becoming a professional military serviceperson. eventually she Stepanakert, NKR. Maro Petrosyan (63) with her daughter
Liana Mkrtumyan (37) mother of 5, live in Akhtamar Hotel together with other 127 displaced families from the villages destroyed during the 4 days war. She comes with her family from Martakert, city hardly damaged from the Azerbaijani shellings. They live in the hotel with the other son of Maro,
Samvel Mkrtumyan (33) and the wife of his brother 
Narine Bejanyan (27) mother of 4 (with a newborn baby). Both husbands of Liana and Narine are now in the army Stepanakert, NKR. Some university's female students head the procession pulling a flag 300 meters long in occasion of the demonstration of every 9th of may that celebrate a triple anniversary for Karabakhian people:  the liberation of the city of Shushi that ends the first war against Azerbaijan, the celebration of the creation of the Karabakhian army and the victory of the second world war. It is a very important date for Karabakh. All the people come from all over the country in Stepanakert and walk Angelina Zaqaryan, born in 1997, is a professional dancer who have studied at College of dancing arts. She kisses her little brother dressed as military. She has many relatives in the army. After the 4 days war most of the art exhibitions are connected with ceremonies or memorial anniversaries Stepanakert, NKR. Armine Aleksanyan (40) Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of NKR. She's been appointed to the post of Deputy Foreign Minister on July 4, 2015. She is originally from Martuni and she has many relatives in the army, nearly all her cousins. One is now on the veteran's Union, as head of a section, another is the head of artillery of the army, another is on the frontline. Some others are contract servicemen. Her dad faught in the first war. She was very young during the first war and Shushi, NKR. Helen  Gasparyan (21) plays guitar singing her songs in front of the st. Ghazanchetsots cathedral of Shushi, one of the main churches of the country. She studies Theory of economics at Artsakh State University. Her brother is on the frontline as a private soldier. She took private  guitar lessons, Armenian folk dance classes. She always participates in various cultural events at the university, usually hosting shows organized by students. Corridor of Lachin, NKR. panoramic view of the montains covered by snow in the area called Corridor of Lachin that is a mountain pass within the de jure borders of Azerbaijan,forming the shortest route between and the NKR,it came under the control of the NKR, although officially is part of the Alachin rayon of Azerbaijan. Gandzasar Monastery, NKR. An old woman prays before the sunday mass. Gandzasar monastery is a 10th to 13th century monastery situated in the Martakert district. It is now the seat of the Archbishop of Artsakh appointed by the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin of the Armenian Apostolic Church Martakert region, NKR.  A group of teachers go back to their houses after the daily work at school. 85% of teachers in primary and secondary schools in Karabakh are women. A large part of the schools and kinder gardens of the villages along the front line were devastated during the recent fightins. Stepanakert, NKR. Nishan Paparian (workshop leader, filmmaking and writing from LA, California), Mariam Mirzoyan (learning coach), Tatavik Begoyan, Gohan Aushar, Tamara Lalayan, Nina Shaverdyan, Inessa Sahakyan and Shoger Sargsyan studying at TUMO. The Tumo Center for Creative Technologies) is a free of charge digital media learning center. Since its opening, the center has provided thousands of students aged 12–18 an open environment where they can use the latest in digital tools, learn from media Stepanakert,NKR. A streetview of some buildings part of a popular district located in the city's downtown. Stepanakert, NKR. 
Lidia Ghulyan (25)
Gayane Sargsyan (25) and Mariam Arushanyan (23)  put some fresh flowers on the memorial monument of the police during a break in the courtyard of the central police station of the city. They are professional police women and they work full time six days a week.  A large part of the office personal in the state police are female. Many of them are married or have relatives in the army Stepanakert, NKR. inside the studios of Artsakh Public TV, the NKR's national television. Nare NIkoghosyan (32) in the TV backstage studies a script before going on the set while the hairdresser Gayane Avsharyan (30) takes care of her hairs. On her background Armine Grigoryan (28) the TV lawyer. Nare hosts 2 tv programmes, “The Capital City” and “TV Mess”. She has 3 children. The hairdresser Gayane said that Traditionally all the men in her family are military men. Her husband is on the frontline, her Shushi, NKR. Aneta Hambardzumyan  (25) stands inside a destroyed building from the heavy Azeri shellings. Aneta is a journalist and she works in building of the President of NKR. In past her dream was to work as a journalist in TV focused on social issues but not on  political matters of her country. With the start of the new war has rediscovered her patriotic sentiment and has started supporting the soldiers at the front. Her father is a professional military who drives the vehicles carrying tanks, her Stepanakert, NKR. inside the studios of Artsakh Public TV, the NKR's national television. Anush Hakobyan (31) during the noon edition of the daily TV news. She is the anchor woman of the television. Her speciality is  economy (finance  and credit). She has 1 daughter. Her nephew is the army. Talish, Martakert region, NKR.  A woman comes from Stepanakert to see what remains of her house after the hard fightings between Azerbaijani and Karabakhian armies. Talish village is located in the north of Martakert region of Nagorno-Karabakh, it is the closest to the Azerbaijan border (just 1km) and the front line. Situation on the border is tense. During the 4 days war (apr2-5,2016) this village was theatre of many killings and atrocities. Today is a ghost village. All the families were evacuated and Kashatag region, Vaghazin village area, NKR. The HALO trust’s 1st  team of female deminers, deployed in July 2015. The team is locally recruited, all the 5 women are from Kashatagh region of NKR. Vardanush Asaturova (30), Maya Baghdasaryan (40) who has her son is in the army performing 2 year compulsory service, Varditer Shaboyan (23) who has 12 brothers and sisters in her family, together with her, waiting for the 13th,, Marine Barseghyan (38) mother of 6, Christine Khachatryan (36). They work on the Stapanakert, NKR. Sofia Petrosyan (17)
Studies at Stepanakert College of Dancing Art. As one of the Colllege’s best students, Sofia has an opportunity to receive higher education at Yerevan State Institute of Theatre and Cinematography, taking courses of directing for free. But this prospect doesn’t inspire her because she has been dreaming of becoming an actress since early childhood.
Everyone in Sofia’s family is related to arts. The place she lives is very famous in Stepanakert, known as Simon Spring. Stepanakert,NKR. A night vision of two windows of a bridal shop in the main street of the city. Women usually got married between 18 and 25 years old in a very traditional way. Stepanakert, NKR. Anna Ghukasyan (31)
As a child , Anna took classes of martial arts earning black belt in sanda wushu. She always dreamed about becoming a military girl. During the Artsakh war of 1990s bullets and gunpowder were her favourite toys. She would collect bullets and try to make explosives from gunpowder.
Anna studied journalism and worked as a military reporter thus always being on the frontline, never quitting to pursue her dream of becoming a professional military serviceperson. eventually Stepanakert, NKR. Maternity hospital. A new mum after gynaecologistic visit. To increase the population growth the state gives several concessions to large families arriving to give an home to families with 4 children. Stepanakert,NKR. Irina Arakelyan (18)  during a visit at the beauty salon. She's a student and her brother is in the army. She laughs with the hairdryer's air  on her face. The hairdresser says about this period: "After the 4days war we had no more time to laugh and enjoy our lives. We are too scared and worried. The only moments for share our feelings are at work when we all women are together trying to carry out our lives" . Talish, Martakert region, NKR. Nare Gevorgyan (26) with a rose in sign of memory inside the village local school completely devastated by the heavy Azeri shellings during the 4days war. Talish is the nearest village from the border with Azerbaijan seriously damaged from fightings. Today it was completely evacuated,there are just militaries on the streets and ruins. Nare works in Stepanakert in the Minister of Foreign Affairs but she is originated from Martuni region in the south. She is very patriotic, her Kashatag region, Vaghazin village area, NKR. A minefieldtake in custody by Halo Trust to be cleared. Landmines were used extensively during the 1992-1994 war, as were large amounts of cluster munitions and other explosive ordnance. Since the war ended in 1994, 328 people have been killed or maimed by landmines and UXO bombs. On april 6th,2016 Azerbaijan fired severals cluster bombs (made in Israel) against civilians objiectives. Shushi, NKR. Narine Aghabalyan (48), minister of Culture and youth affairs of NKR looks out of a window in her office. She has a child.
Her husband, Edmon Barseghyan, perished in the first War against Azerbaijan.  In 2001 she was recognized "Best Journalist of the Year" by the NKR National Assembly. Since 2004 was a correspondent of the Public Television Company of Armenia in Artsakh. In
2005 she founded the private photographic studio "Tsir Katin" and was the director of it until June Stepanakert, NKR. Alvard Harutyunyan (34) lives with her daughter 
Mariana Vanyan (5) in Akhtamar Hotel together with other 127 displaced families from the villages destroyed during the 4 days war. They come with their family from Mataghis, one of the border villages hardly damaged from the Azerbaijani shellings. She worked at the Mataghis kindergarden destroyed by the heavy shellings and her husband is in the army on the frontline. Stepanakert, NKR. The Supreme court of Justice of NKR is composed by all female judges: Narine Narimanyan (third from the left), chairperson of the NKR Supreme Court
Gayane Grigoryan, Judge of the Supreme Court of NKR.
Greta Arzumanyan, Judge of the Supreme Court of NKR.
Irina Karapetyan, Judge of the Supreme Court of NKR.
Lilya Avanesyan, Judge of the Appeal Court of NKR.
Hasmik Harutyunyan, Judge of the NKR Court of First Instance of general jurisdiction. Hasmik Khachatryan, Judge of the Appeal Court of Stepanakert, NKR. dressed with a traditional armenian costume, carries some red carnations to be distributed to all the authorities who will lay them  in front of the memorial of the Armenian genocide monument in occasion of the demonstration of every 9th of may that celebrate a triple anniversary for Karabakhian people:  the liberation of the city of Shushi that ends the first war against Azerbaijan, the celebration of the creation of the Karabakhian army and the victory of the second world war. It is a Stepanakert, NKR. inside the studios of Artsakh Public TV, the NKR's national television. Nare NIkoghosyan (32) hosts 2 tv programmes, “The Capital City” and “TV Mess”. She has 3 children. Stepanakert, NKR. Lusine Bruzyan (36) lives with her mother and 5 children, 18, 15, 14, 7 and 4 years old live in Akhtamar Hotel together with other 127 displaced families from the villages destroyed during the 4 days war. She comes with her family from Talish, the nearest village from the border with Azerbaijan seriously damaged from fightings. She kisses her little son Rafayel Bruzyan who repeats “I want to become a soldier and fight the Turks". Lusine’s husband, Armen Bruzyan, is from Vagharshapat, Shushi, NKR. A girl is walking close the panoramic point of the Canyon of Hunot (commonly known as Jdrduz) just outside Shushi city center. In this place young people, couples and families use to spend time together relaxing at open air in contact with nature. After the 4days war just few people come here and it is possible to meet militaries relaxing after their daily duties. Stepanakert, NKR. Vazguhi Sargsyan, (41), Marina Avanesyan, (56) and her mother
Genya Sargsyan (82) live in Akhtamar Hotel together with other 127 displaced families from the villages destroyed during the 4 days war. They come with their family from Mataghis, one of the border villages hardly damaged from the Azerbaijani shellings. Marina's grandson is in the army, serving his compulsory military service. “There are minor hopes for a peaceful settlement. Maybe there’ll be war… but we believe in the Stepanakert, NKR. A dancer during an exhibition at Charles Aznavour art center of Stepanakert. After the 4 days war most of the art exhibitions are connected with ceremonies or memorial anniversaries Stepanakert, NKR. Some university's female students with the Armenian and Artsakh flags join the national demonstration of every 9th of may that celebrate a triple anniversary for Karabakhian people:  the liberation of the city of Shushi that ends the first war against Azerbaijan, the celebration of the creation of the Karabakhian army and the victory of the second world war. It is a very important date for Karabakh. All the people come from all over the country in Stepanakert and walk screaming Stepanakert, NKR. Ellada Dadayan (35) cries for the loss of her husband, lieutenant colonel Aram Arushanyan (born in 1972), veteran on Karabakh War, who died on the night of April 25/26. She has 4 children: Varduhi Arushanyan  (13), Ara Arushanyan (11), Meri Arushanyan (10), Aren Arushanyan (5). They come from Haterk village, region of Martakert and now live in Akhtamar Hotel together with other 127 displaced families from the villages destroyed during the 4 days war. "My husband never lied to me. That Shushi, NKR. Narine Aghabalyan (48), minister of Culture and youth affairs of NKR with the female staff of her ministery. Female personel is 80% of the employes in this ministery and in the one of foreign affairs of NKR. Narine has a child.
Her husband, Edmon Barseghyan, perished in the first War against Azerbaijan. In 2001 she was recognized "Best Journalist of the Year" by the NKR National Assembly.Since 2004 was a correspondent of the Public Television Company of Armenia in Artsakh. In
2005 she Stepanakert, NKR. inside the studios of Artsakh Public TV, the NKR's national television. Tatevik Gasparyan (28) in the TV backstage before going on the set while the hairdresser Gayane Avsharyan (30) takes care of her look. On her background Nare NIkoghosyan (32) is preparing for her show. Tatevik hosts a children’s show, “Mush-mushik”. The hairdresser Gayane said that Traditionally all the men in her family are military men. Her husband is on the frontline, her father is a senior military officer, Stepanakert,NKR. Rima Grigoryan (30) works in Maya beauty salon in central Stepanakert. Her husband and brother are in the army. She's at home alone in this period with her little son waiting for her husband return. "After the 4days war we had no more time to laugh and enjoy our lives. We are too scared and worried. The only moments for share our feelings are at work when we all women are together trying to carry out our lives" . Stepanakert,NKR. The female staff of the NKR's court of justice in front of the central bulding of the court in downtown Stepanakert. Female personel is 85% of the employes in this building. The 7 judges of the supreme court of justice of NKR are all female. Stepanakert, NKR. 
Diana Grigoryan (36), Gayane Gharibyan (41) and Rima Grigoryan (30) prepare thyme herbs for the tea for winter time in the backyard of Maya beauty salon, the place in central Stepanakert where they work. Rima's husband and brother are in the army. She's at home alone in this period with her little son waiting for her husband return. "After the 4days war we had no more time to laugh and enjoy our lives. We are too scared and worried. The only moments for share our feelings Stepanakert,NKR. A night streetview in a popular district of the city.