Armenian Letters from Artsakh

Their names are Nathalie, Tatev, Mariam and Anna and they write to us from Artsakh, this territory of the South Caucasus populated by Armenians and coveted by Azerbaijan. When you read their letters, you will understand how attached they are to their land, to their history, to their identity after having thought they would disappear when the war suddenly broke out on September 27, 2020 and ended 44 days later, on November 9, 2020, a little over a year ago. They are about twenty years old and they are learning French at the University of Stepanakert, the capital of Artsakh where the first foreign language taught is Russian. It is thanks to Nelly, their French teacher, that we received these letters. They tell us about their life, their fear and their hope. You can answer them by sending us a letter to and we will send them. We met Nelly on site. She was our translator when we were there last February with Bernard Kouchner and Patrice Franceschi. Since then, we are happy to have sent Nelly some French teaching books that she was missing.


Hello dear reader

My name is Nathalie, I am 19 years old. I was born on November 28, 2001 in the village of Aknaghbyur, in the region of Askeran (formerly known as Karabulakh, which means “big spring”). I am a 3rd year student of English language and literature at the Faculty of Philology of Artsakh State University. I love my job, it gives me the opportunity to explore world literature in its original form, to work with children, developing Armenian and Armenian in them. Now I have only one goal, to deepen my knowledge, to acquire the ability to communicate in different languages, to deepen my cultural and Armenological knowledge in order to make our nation visible to the world.

I also like educational activities. I have been working with children for two years now. My students inspire me in the strongest moments, give me strength and endurance. Today, my dreams and goals are linked only to my birthplace, Aknaghbyur. It was occupied by the enemy during the 44-day war in 2020 and finally came under enemy control on October 27. My pain is great, my grief is boundless. There were a number of historical and cultural monuments in Aknaghbyur, including the 19th century Surb Astvatsatsin church, the 19th-20th century cemetery, the 19th-20th century “Ghuze Tagh” cemetery, located 500 m southeast of the village, the 17th century “Ghuze Tagh” shrine, the 18th-19th century “Gharali” village, located 2 km west of the village. In the center of Aknaghbyur there was a memorial dedicated to the fallen freedom fighters of the first Artsakh war, which was destroyed by the Azerbaijanis after the village was taken over by the Azerbaijani armed forces. Every day I pray to the Almighty Lord to find our village and let the mornings of the Armenian world begin peacefully…


Translation of the letter into Armenian

Hello everyone,

My name is Tatev, I am 21 years old. I was born in the village of Kochoghot in the Martakert region of Artsakh. I am a first year master student. I study English language and literature at Artsakh State University.

My village is beautiful, there is a wonderful nature where one can rest well.

Here lives the long-suffering Armenian who tries to provide for his family by his honest work. And suddenly, at dawn, you hear the sound of explosions, the roar of weapons, the groan of the fatherland. War, we guessed, has broken out, disrupting our peaceful life. I think you know Artsakh and you know what happened recently: a cruel and unjust war that spared nobody. Each exploded weapon took lives, taking with it many dreams that did not come true. We lost 75% of our country in the 44-day war. It is true that we cannot bring back the many Armenians who sacrificed their lives for the motherland, but we can do at least one thing – pray for the enlightenment of their souls to keep their names immortal. Many families have lost their homes, but everyone, in their heart of hearts, hopes that one day they will return to their land and find their houses and homes that they built themselves.

We must not lose hope and faith in God, we must pray, believe that our voice will reach God, we must be obliged to make our wonderful country Artsakh prosper and develop.

I wish peace and unity to you and to us in any work undertaken. Join us, dear friends, do not allow injustice and evil to act against us.

I also have to tell you how much our terrorist enemy is trying to cut us off from our homes and our land. We will live on this land inherited from our ancestors, we will not lose the potential to create a beautiful culture.


Traduction de la lettre en arménien


My name is Mariam. I am 22 years old. I am a graduate of the Translation Department of Artsakh State University, I am currently in the first year of my master’s degree and I am studying English language and literature. I love walking in the nature, it calms me down and allows me to be alone with my thoughts. When I have free time, I read books and listen to music.

I was born in the village of Taghavard in the Martuni region. I live in Stepanakert, since on October 27, as a result of the war, a part of the village was taken over by the enemy.

The village of Taghavard has a beautiful nature, there are many historical and cultural monuments, including the fortress of Berdahonj (8th-14th century), the church Surb Astvatsatsin (1840), Jokht prvatsar (11th-12th century) and the shrine of Churvish (17th-18th centuries) which are quite famous. Unfortunately, the Churvish shrine was destroyed by bombing during the war.

Almost every day I see our house, our village in my dreams and this is the only way to calm the lack we all have.

However, we do not have the right to despair, because we are obliged to live and create in our Artsakh, on the land that was kept at the cost of the blood of thousands of soldiers, so that we can live the life that they did not live.

After all, there is no place more powerful and dearer than our own land and homeland.


Traduction de la lettre en arménien

Destroyed housing complex in the Republic of Artsakh due to Azerbaijan’s shelling in September and October 2020 @Yan-Boechat-VOA.
Hello dear friends,

I am Anna, I am 21 years old. I come from a small but beautiful part of the world: Artsakh. I live in Stepanakert, its capital. In my homeland you can find a wonderful nature, very hospitable people and a history that is very old but at the same time full of adventures and suffering.

I study at Artsakh State University, in the faculty of foreign languages. I am learning English and French. Outside of my studies I give individual lessons and teach English and French to children. I am married and soon I will have a son. My biggest dream is that my child will grow up under the blue sky. You already know that we suffered because of the war in 2020. On September 27, we woke up to the sound of bombing. It was a pain that is frankly impossible to explain in words. We don’t want to leave our country, but I don’t want my son to be a victim of a new war either.

My 7 year old cousin tells me that he wants to be a soldier, but he doesn’t want to participate in the war because all the soldiers who participated in the war are dead…

My day-to-day life is very full: I participate in the online university classes, I do my classes with the kids also online because of Covid19, I do the cleaning sometimes, I cook and in the evening, when I have time, I go for a walk. I have a beautiful view of the city of Shushi from my window. At night before I go to sleep I look at this city in the hope of a miracle: that of returning there one day and making its culture flourish again, which is now destroyed by the Azeris.

We, the Artsakhtsis, are very dynamic and courageous, we will never abandon our country.

We will fight for the welfare of our children, for the next generation and for our country.

Dear readers, we wish you happiness and joy; may you never feel the pain of war.


Translation of the letter into Armenian

Monument from Artsakh symbolizing “We are our mountains” @Martin Cigler.


Pour en découvrir plus :

Afghanistan, such a predictable defeat

Afghanistan has been back in the news since U.S. President Joe Biden declared a permanent withdrawal of troops by September 11. This was expected. What has surprised most commentators, who have been following this from afar but with great confidence, is the Taliban offensive, which has rapidly taken control of many districts and border crossings.

When you look at a map, you see that the areas that have escaped are around the city of Herat, the central region of Hazaradjat, the Panshir valley and of course the capital Kabul, with other pockets here and there. In the media, there are many clichés, biases and lack of knowledge of Afghan realities, but fortunately there is also useful information.

Talibans at the gates of Kabul in September 1996, © Robert Nickelsberg

One is tempted to say, after 20 years of American, NATO, UN and war presence, “all for this” with the Taliban now back in power in Kabul. Where are the collective mistakes that have dominated for 20 years?

In the immediate future, what will happen this summer? While the military solution currently seems to outweigh political negotiation, past experience teaches us that a frontal war in Kabul would be devastating for the inhabitants and infrastructure and would cause many casualties on both sides as well as displacement of populations. What will the Taliban do? Will there be talks to avoid the worst and on what political terms? In any case, it is likely that the Taliban will seek to settle this before winter.

As a result, the humanitarian situation will certainly deteriorate in this country of 40 million people, half of whom are affected by food insecurity. Indeed, 80% of the population lives or survives on small-scale farming, which is severely affected by the current drought, resulting in one out of every two 5-year-olds suffering from malnutrition! To ensure that relief efforts are not interrupted, humanitarian organizations are asking the warring parties not to hinder access to aid for vulnerable populations and not to threaten the neutrality and impartiality of these organizations.


Nagorno-Karabakh in danger !

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Aliyev in Azerbaijan, 2020, ©Presidential Press and Information Office of Azerbaijan

The media talk much less about Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan, yet not a day has gone by for months without border skirmishes. One of the most important incidents occurred on 12 May when hundreds of Azerbaijani soldiers entered Armenian territory in the Guegharkounik and Siounik regions. Since then, almost every day there have been incidents and injuries.

The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, maintains a permanent threat to push his advantage after his military victory in the 44-day war that ended on November 9 after the defeat of Armenia, which caused a real trauma in its population. What is in question is the fate of Nagorno-Karabakh, also called Artsakh, which is landlocked and populated by more than 100,000 Armenians.

Tensions rose again on July 22 when President Aliyev declared on Azerbaijani television that there was no Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh and no special administrative status for this territory, which he calls the Azeri Eastern Zanguezur. These statements are worrisome in that they could be followed by dangerous military initiatives. Diplomatic activity is equally intense and involves above all Russia, which plays a major role with 2,400 peacekeepers stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh and which has military bases in Armenia within the framework of a defence agreement. France is also very present with the United States following the situation closely as well as the European Union.

On Thursday 29 July, after the death of 3 Armenian soldiers near the village of Sotk, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pachinian said he would ask for the deployment of “Russian border guards” along the border with Azerbaijan and the deployment of an observer mission of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (Russia and five other former Soviet republics, including Armenia).

Humanitarian organizations and foundations are active both in Armenia and in Nagorno-Karabakh or Artsakh to meet the needs of displaced persons, invalids in the fields of health, education, culture, demining and reconstruction in particular.

The month of August with Humanitarian Challenges.

In this edition, I offer you three articles selected for their great interest among those we have already published. There is an article by Pierre Brunet, writer and humanitarian, “Is humanitarianism still on a mission?” which I recommend to you and which distinguishes between humanitarianism and business in terms of purpose and management. Alicia Piveteau, a young journalist, has published a very interesting article, “The Sahel is a demographic bomb”, which alerts us to the urgent issues to be anticipated regarding the daily increase of a young population in need of education and employment. Finally, Gilles Dorronsoro, an academic and researcher specializing in Afghanistan, paints a picture of the situation in an eye-opening interview on “A so predictable defeat”.

Finally, to conclude.

If these articles interest you and bring you useful information and reflection, I suggest that you share them with your friends, colleagues and relations by sending them the link below each article with a small icon representing a letter.

You can also share these articles on social networks. This will encourage us to continue and improve Humanitarian Challenges for its readers and I thank you in advance warmly.

The next edition will be published on Tuesday, August 31.

To go further, you can listen to the RFI program on Afghanistan.

Alain Boinet.

Alain Boinet with the latest editions of Défis Humanitaires.