Edik Babayan's eyes glisten as he talks about his homeland, the Hadrut region of Nagorno Karabakh. His voice begins to tremble as he recalls the hardships of the days of war and his fellow soldiers.
Honesty, right-mindedness and generosity are distinguishing features of residents of Hadrut, however, they arise when their national dignity is trampled. For many years they have been depressed at the fact that their human rights for living on their own land have been violated, he says.
Babayan, 61, is president of the Dizak patriotic and charitable union, which was founded in 1990 and unites 12 village communities. He says the title is connected with the old name of Hadrut; a mountain in the region is called Dizapayt, from which Dizak originates, while Hadrut means a territory located between two flowing rivers.
The organization's main work in the beginning was to help refugees from Azerbaijan , and to organize support for self-defense formations in the region.
Babayan recalls: We spent days without sleep or rest during the war. We were loading helicopters and trucks. We used to go to Goris or Gyumri to get fuel and weapons. The first military self-defense formation composed of Hadrut residents entered the battlefield on July 25, 1991 .
After the 1994 ceasefire was declared, Dizak decided to publish a memorial book dedicated to the memory of residents of Hadrut who died during Karabakh war.
The great pain of loss as well as the respect and gratitude that we feel towards those who died on the battlefield made us come to that decision. They are immortalized, says Babayan.
With help from benefactors, the Dizaktsiner book was published in 2000. In addition to photographs, it contained biographies of 333 fighters from Hadrut who died defending their region during the Karabakh struggle.
Babayan says: In the book we also included names of civilians, who died during the war. Their names were added not only to the pages of history of the liberation war but also to the register of memory of those who are alive now. Each of those civilians was a lamp in a house, a support of a family, hope and faith. We who are alive now are obliged to them.
The book is not for sale. It is distributed free among the families of those killed.
When their mothers, wives and children hold that book in their hands they feel happiness and pride. They are thankful that the lives of their loved ones were added to the book of history, says Babayan.
Today, the workers of Dizak organization are determined to publish a new edition of the book.
Babayan explains: The intention is to fill in the gaps of the previous publication, to add more photographs of deceased liberators as well as include information about the lives and activities of several commanders during the war years.
Dizak plans also to collect funds to build memorials in several villages dedicated to the memory of deceased liberators. Babayan says, however, that it will cost $2,400 simply to republish the Dizaktsiner book.
We apply to different departments and private persons with requests to help us in realizing these goals, he says.
Babayan says anyone interested in making a donation could send it to the organization's bank account:
Beneficiary's bank: ARMECONOMBANK
AMIRYAN STR. 23/1, YEREVAN 375002, ARMENIA
CHIPS NUMBER: 0365362
Bank corr: CITIBANK N.A., NEW YORK, USA
Swift: CITI US 33
ACOUNT No: 36121242 of ARMECONOMBANK