Struggle for survival while in captive and in freedom

13:51 | 14.05.2018

By Seymur Kazimov

"I did not want them to disfigure me, to take my eye off, to cut my nose and ears. The only  wish I had was to be killed without tortures . When the corpse is delivered safely, it looks nice,” says Aqil Ahmadov, former soldier and prisoner of war.

Forty-two-year-old Aqil Ahmadov, with a first  degree disability as result of   Karabakh war is not able to work. In April 1997, Aqil together with seven intelligence officers cross the positions of the Armenian Armed Forces heading towards Fuzuli-Horadiz in order to carry out the combat mission. On the way back Armenian soldiers detected the group of eight scouts  and the battle began between the sides.

"They were more than us, and they had heavy equipment-armed machine guns, artillery, etc.  Their goal was to capture us alive. Talking on the portable radio in Russian they told us to capitulate, but we screamt ‘go to the hell’. They besieged us. A distance between us was very close. We were on one side of the ruined home, and the Armenian soldiers on the other. My soldier companion was injured, then I was injured too. My wound was quite heavy. The bullet passed through my body, tore off the parts of the spine, bruised the bone and stuck close to the heart and lungs. For the first time, I felt that I was so close to death. I was 20 years old then, " remembers Aqil.

Ahmadov says that the bullet is still in his body.

Although he tried to get  away from the location where they were attacked before he was captured, he could not.

" I tried, but I could not, because I did not feel the lower part of my body. I was trying to open my eyes but they  were closing, then I tried to breath, but I could not exhale the air I inhaled. Unconsciously, I was trying to take off my underwear, feeling as if they are choking me. Then I lost my conscious. When I woke up I realized that I had been captured. How come I was captured, how they got far I have no idea.”

Nightmare in the captivity

"Different language, different place, different people. Someone in a white coat was slapping my face. When I heard the voice, I understood that he was Armenian and that I was captured. The last thing I remembered was how my commander was digging the land with his hands to hide the maps, and he had even eaten some of the secret documents during the shootings. I don’t remember anything since then. It was as if; the camera was filming and stopped on this moment. When I woke up, I wanted to watch the rest part of this "film”.

"I had a pain in spinal bones. My hands and feet were tied to the bed. Since then my  nightmare days started and continued for one year and eleven months. In February 1998 there was a court (there were several charges- terrorism, spying, diversification... violation of "state" border of Karabakh) and I was sentenced to death penalty. Although they gave me an opportunity to use a lawyer and interpreter, I refused to use  their services.”

The captured soldier later knew that he spent 9-10 days in Jabrail region, Then he was sent to the hospital in   Karabakh, and soon  transferred to the isolator. Even though his eyes was blindfolded, as the distance between the two stations was very close, he was able to identify the places.

"They did not treat me completely. After 10-15 days they moved me to the prison. Everyday I was waiting for the moment when they open the door, take me and kill, for I was already sentenced to the death. May be it would be better if I was killed, that is, you taste this feeling only once. Imagine, the intelligence soldier and captivity.”

The urine flowing from the abdomen

" Right aftyer they did a surgery to me, one of those officers sat on my belly where I had 32 seams. He held the pencil between the slippers and tightened it.

The operation was done such that the seams were visible. Then he took the pillow and put it on my face pressing it with his gun. I felt the gun on my forehead. I closed my eyes, I was waiting to be killed….” While in captivity he remembers the other seven soldiers – his companions. He thought that they left him, however, during the next interrogation, the Armenian officer showed the photos of all seven soldiers to understand if he knows them. He was informed that all of them had died. When he was captured he was unaware of his friends. He got to know that they exploded themselves with granadas.
"Even Armenian soldiers were surprised with this act of my companions, they even showed this to their soldiers – how a true patriot must be.”

Aqil has second surgery on his urinary bladder, but without narcosis.

"I had eight new seams. In the hospital one of the Armenian  soldiers hit me with his boots, and three seams were damaged, the urine started to blow from my abdomenal. I didn’t tell anyone. It didn’t make any sense to complain. I had a big hole in my abdomen. That wound did not cure for a long time. Whenever I stood up, the urine was flowing from the abdomen. The bandages were changed once in a month or once in two months. There was a servant there, she was a Russian. When the soldiers left the room, she approached me, asked how I was and told me  that she would give a salve to put it on my wound and instructed me to hide it. Then she put two apples on the table. The salve helped me a little.”

Sawdust instead of cigarrets, a month with no matchstick and no food

"When the Red Cross was coming, everything was great. They were bringing cloths, they were shaving us. In other time, I had a bath once in three months. They were bringing two packs of cigarettes, and Armenian soldiers were taking them from us. I was smoking sawdust instead. The Red Cross was bringing books, I was taking the pages and making a cigarette. We were eating a bouillon of cabbage and pasta. I had bread only in the mornings, sometimes they could totally forget about us for days. My weight was reduced from 80 to 49 kg by the time I was freed. ”

The family

They are three brothers in the family. When he was in captive, his parents thought that their   son   was killed , and had 20 days mourning. Then Stefan Muller from the Red Cross proposed to write a letter to the family. Aqil refused. Stefan wrote the letter instead and sent to his family. Aqil’s mother did not believe as she could not recognise the handwrittings. Stefan wrote the second letter . This time he offered to appeal the decision of the court that had sentenced Agil to death. As Aqil was sentenced to death and was waiting for his hour, he refused this offer. Then onn behalf of him Stefan appealed. Aqil’s parents appealed several places, but only after they referred to Heydar Aliyev, who was the president at that time, he was released shortly.

One step from the Freedom

"They did not want to exchange me. I was attempted to be exchanged two times by the other side, but instead of me others were exchanged. I did not have a hope this time too. In order to exchange they brought me to the special place. I spent an hour in the car with closed eyes. I was exchanged in the last minute with two alive Armenian captives and one dead. They opened my eyes. There was a mine  on the ground. I wanted to jump so all of them would die but i did not . I thought may be my mom is waiting for me 100 meters away from me. When we reached the neutral zone, they told me to go. I was trembling. I thought they would kill me from the back.” 

The motherland. 10 March, 1999

"I was lying in the UAZ (car). We were passing through Barda. All around I saw the billboards in Azerbaijani language, I heard my language. I stopped the car, left and took a deep breath. I asked the people who led me if I am dreaming. Am I really free? Will these people beat me and insult me again?
For almost two years I did not know the dates. New Year, Novruz Bayram…. my birthday…. I did not know anything. Only in the hospital in Khankendi I saw the daylight.

When I returned everything was very good. Everyone welcomed me very well. President Ilham Aliyev  visited  Zaqatala and met with Karabakh veterans. Then I got an apartment from the government and I got a car too.”

Aqil still has health issues and for this reason he is not married.

"I had to tell it to Ilham Aliyev when he was here, but I was ashamed. I would not say I regret it. I stood face to face with the President. I am sure that if I told him about my health, I would be treated soon. I was embarrassed, because I was given an apartment and it would be a little wrong to speak about my health issue. I wish I could say it."

Aqil Ahmadov receives 242 AZN pension as a veteran of war.