SAGHATEL HANISYAN: “THE LORD TAKES THE MASTER AND THE WOLVES, THE WAIF”
13:08, February 27, 2013
Everyone in the Lori village of Shnogh knows Saghatel Hanisyan.
The 52 year-old Artsakh war vet is something of a local fixture,
whose battle exploits and stories of a mischievous youth have been
heard countless times.
Recently, Saghatel fell ill. He was more concerned about how he would
heat the house where he lives with his Sokhak, his wife of two years,
and his sister Rozan.
Saghatel spent five years on the frontlines, He only returned after
After graduating from high school, Saghatel studied at the Alaverdi
Technical Institute and later at Yerevan’s Radio Technical School.
In 1988, he joined up with a volunteer unit in Shnogh that took up
defense position in Noyemberyan. Later, with an Alaverdi ARF volunteer
unit, he left for Ghazanchi. In 1991, Saghatel was in Martouni where
he joined Manvel Grigoryan’s unit.
Saghatel says that he hasn’t forgotten any episode from the war
years and is ready to recount them at anytime to anyone interested
Many are interested to hear his war tales. Others can’t believe that
he fought in the war. Many Artsakh fighters used the guns, grenades
and bullets Saghatel fashioned. Guns are part of his life. One day,
Saghatel was arrested for possessing a few handmade bullets.
“I had brought back a few bullets that I had made. They came and took
me to the Alaverdi Criminal Unit. I fought for five years and they
arrested me for having five bullets. They questioned me for several
days. I didn’t know if it was night or day,” he recounts.
Saghatel holds no grudges however and tells the story with a grin on
his face. Nevertheless, he confesses that he doesn’t understand why
some of the Artsakh fighters are praised and covered in the press
while others like him are overlooked.
He regrets that he brought nothing back with him from the war as a
memento. The only reminder of his war years is a photo in a history
book. He’s never seen it but local school kids talk about it.
Shnogh residents say that Saghatel stood out even as a child. They
recount that in the second grade Saghatel broke the lock of the school
cafeteria and ate all the cream for the pastries. Years later, one of
the school’s classrooms caught fire as a result of a lab experiment
Saghatel was conducting that went wrong. There are many such stories
of the mishaps involving Saghatel.
Today, Saghatel doesn’t have a job. Neither does his wife and sister.
In the past, Saghatel used to repair local farm equipment for the
villagers, mostly getting paid in barter. More recently, Saghatel
was a woodworker in the forest.
Women’s work in the village is seasonal. Rozan tends the gardens
of others and Sokhak collects local herbs for sale. All three get
by on the few cents they make and Sokhak’s 15,500 AMD ($40) monthly
Saghatel receives no assistance from the government. He says that
while the Vanadzor Hospital offered to operate on him for free,
he doesn’t even have the money for transportation.
“Treatment should be totally free. They say it’s free but it ain’t. As
the saying goes, the Lord takes the master and the wolves, the waif,”
Saghatel says with a smile.
By Sona Amirjanyan
Yerevan State University Faculty of Journalism 4th year student