Baku, February 19, AZERTAC
On 18 February 2015, a moving classical concert took place amidst the stunning surroundings of Strasbourg, in the beautiful Salle Mozart, in commemoration of the victims of the Khojaly Massacre in 1992 – the worst single atrocity of the Armenian–Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. This claimed the lives of 613 civilian victims in 1992, including 70 elderly people, 106 women and 63 children. The event was attended by more than 150 guests including diplomats, representatives of international institutions, private sector, civil society and media.
After a welcome speech by Emin Eyyubov, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Council of Europe, Marie-Laetitia Gourdin, Head of TEAS France explained: “TEAS is proud to organise these events in memory of Khojaly victims within the framework of the Justice for Khojaly campaign, which is an international awareness campaign initiated by Mrs. Leyla Aliyeva, Vice-President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. The Justice for Khojaly international campaign was launched on 8 May 2008. The campaign’s rapid development is a measure of international support for the restoration of justice in the region. This support has been expressed at events in over 100 countries in Europe, America, Asia and Africa, and has come from individuals and international organisations, as well as states. TEAS is organising events within the JFK campaign in London, Paris, Strasbourg, Brussels, Berlin, Bern, Dublin, Istanbul, Ankara, Rome, Luxembourg and Vilnius.
“It is appropriate that tonight’s commemoration takes the form of a classical concert as a tribute to Azerbaijan immaterial cultural heritage, as Khojaly is located in the Armenian-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, which is a cultural hub and synonymous with the development of the country’s musical heritage. The town of Shusha, currently in ruins, was known as the Conservatoire of the Caucasus. It was the birthplace for many of Azerbaijan’s leading musicians, singers and composers, including Uzeyir Hajibeyli, the father of Azerbaijani classical music; Sadigjan, who developed the Azerbaijani tar; many of the finest mugham singers; and the legendary opera singer Bul-Bul, who trained at La Scala, Milan.
In accordance with a mythical ambiance of historical building dating back to the Age of Enlightenment (18th century), the concert program meticulously blended Azerbaijani and European classical and modern pieces, performed by talented and internationally renown musicians – Renara Akhoundova (piano), Sarah Nemtanu (violin), Alexander Somov (cello) and Saida Zulfugarova (piano).
“Tonight is also dedicated to Dilham Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev, two Azerbaijani civilians who were captured by the occupying forces in July when tending the graves of their relatives in their historic homeland. In December, an illegal ‘court’ sentenced them to 22 years and life, respectively. I urge all of those present to lobby the French government to place pressure on the Armenian government so they may be set free.”
Despite the passing of four UN Security Council resolutions against the invasion, Armenia continues to occupy Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts to this day. Currently nearly 20 per cent of Azerbaijani territory remains occupied, and approximately 875,000 refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) remain spread across Azerbaijan. The evening was dedicated to the memory of the Khojaly victims and those Azerbaijanis who have one wish – to return home in peace.