Disabled soldier’s mother starts sit-in outside Armenian government offices

Wed 14 June 2017 07:27 GMT | 11:27 Local Time

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"I gave them a healthy son, and I demand that they give him back to me in the same state."

A Gyumri woman began a hunger strike on Monday outside the Government building in Yerevan, demanding that the Ministry of Defense pay for her 20-year-old son’s medical treatment. Recall, Artur Hasanyan acquired a disability while in the army: after having served 23 months in a military unit, the young man was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy and discharged from the army in March because he was deemed unfit for service.

Speaking to an Epress.am reporter, Asli Hasanyan said she had gone to defense ministry earlier in the day and met with “some general.”

“He basically told me that my son was in the Red Cross hospital and would live as long as he lives. I gave them a healthy son, and I demand that they give him back to me in the same state,” Hasanyan complained.

The woman was soon approached by two police officers guarding the Government offices, who asked Hasanyan to go inside and not sit outside with placards in her hands. “You have to go to the reception desk,” the officers insisted.

“It’s been 3 months since I wrote to the Government, and I have yet to receive an answer. I won’t go anywhere until my son is treated properly,” Aslanyan replied, adding that she had borrowed money to travel to Yerevan from Gyumri: “I can’t possibly have enough money for Artur’s treatment, and if the issue remains unresolved, I will never send my youngest son to the army.”

Two weeks ago, after reporting about the Hasanyans’ issues, Epress.am received a written statement from the Defense Ministry, which said that the soldier had been “diagnosed with spinal amyotrophy, erosive gastritis, bulbitis in the clinical phase of remission, and grade II–III varicocele,” which is a hereditary disease. At the same time, the officials acknowledged that the disease had first manifested itself during military service.

“Given that the disease first appeared and was diagnosed during the service, it was established that there was a causal link between the disease and the military service, so yes, it was acquired during his military service.

“[…] Hasanyan’s mother has repeatedly appealed to both the Armenian prime minister and the defense minister to organize her son’s treatment abroad. She, however, has received a response that the state budget only covers [these expenses] for soldiers who have been wounded while on active duty or on the frontline and have acquired a subsequent disease. A. Hasanyan’s disease, however, is not related to an [aforementioned situation],” the Ministry letter said.

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