July 9, 2008

Army: 2 years of struggling for life

Talking about army for some people it sounds like a verdict to death or something like that. Not sure how the situation is in other countries, but mostly in post Soviet Union countries the situation in army is still bad, even terrible. Every day we can read many articles regarding to this issue-the issue of homosexuality and army. Are these both compatible? Doesn’t army need any reforms?
Twice a year families are under stress, time to follow to your “patriot obligation”, because according to law each male person who has reached the age of 18 has to serve in army. Hardly finishing the school, boys, still being teenagers, are being taken to the army. Yes, taken, because a very few who go to army by his own will.
The process of checking boys at the military checking points is very annoying, disappointing, harmful, humiliating and etc. They bring all them at one place at 9 o’clock in the morning and make you wait still they “are ready” for the job. I had that experience personally. Than when they “are ready” they invite boys by groups inside, where they are being checked by doctors to see if they are required for the army, but this process is not efficient, because a lot of guys who have serious problems are taken to army.
More problems are for gays, who are being offended, humiliated not only from the military service workers, but also from other guys waiting outside. Usually if they find out a person to be gay, they begin to give clich├ęs; very often they beat him very hard by groups. But all these are more awful when military workers see that and do nothing, like “it should be like that”. Next, when at that check points they still don’t recognize your orientation and qualify for army (because homosexuals are not qualified for army, because of the high risk of danger waiting for that person in army and plus to it, homosexuality still considers to be a “mental disease”) you go further and finally get into army. Nobody can give a guarantee that a gay man will return home safe or just alive.
Recently a guy had similar problems with army, where he had the same problems: he was beaten, humiliated, he had separated dishes, separated place to sleep and etc. As he said: “Every day I feel I won’t be able to get back home, I didn’t feel my dignity that was terrible experience I had in my life”. And this is a “normal”, everyday thing in army.
Now there are several NGOs who are interested in this, and do whatever they can do, one of them is “New Vision to Democracy” NGO, who made its best effort to take that guy out that situation. Now he doesn’t serve and is in safety. “PINK Armenia” and “New Vision to Democracy” now tries to collaborate and do much work in order to do something with that issue.
They invite round tables with LGBT representatives where they discuss problems regarding to army. Most of them don’t know their rights, and where asked why they hadn’t told their parents, they answered the same attitude should have been from them too.
So now all we hope that a small group of young people can do something to change the situation in army, at least they will try.
Army is a necessity for Armenia, but the government should understand also that without good condition of it lots of people will try to avoid it. And is there any army without soldiers?


artmika said...

Very important issue you are rising, PINK. Well done! Keep up your good work re this sensitive area of gays and military in Armenia. Good to see your continuous collaboration with the local NGOs. Also, Armenian Ombudsman should be kept informed on all such instances. I know, once he helped. We need documented basis (tough task!) on all such cases, as much as possible, of course, taking into account circumstances...

I will write about our mini-investigation (from few month ago) about gays and military, and that 'mental disease' diagnosis by the end of this week or beginning of next week.

Mamikon PINK said...

We have many other documents and other situations as well, just can't put them in our blogs now, there are names specified in those papers, we don't want to put somebody under the risk. I guess Ministry of Defence is not happy to hear our names already.

Tom said...

I'm very happy, PINK want to solve this problem. It is very good. It is very serious problem.
Not easy to solve such problem. We must do everything to protect our rights. I proud of you PINK. I'm with you PINK Armenia.