The tapestry of the Devil's plans to involve mankind in acts of broader infighting and genocide precede modern recorded history. Many acts of genocide during the past centuries like forced expulsion and genocide of Muslims and Jews in the Iberian Peninsula during the 16th and 17th century, Holocaust against the Jewish population in the third German Reich during WWII, and Bosnian genocide during the 1990s have been well documented and condoned in the past. The event of the Khojaly Massacre conducted by the criminal-minded and ill-motivated Armenian militants on February 26, 1992 during the First Nagorno-Karabakh war also fall within the ambit of cruel and inhuman genocidal activities.
In the following lines, an appraisal has been done for construing how this massacre during a gruesome war stands out as a classic 20th-century example of genocide under the provisions of international law and how Armenian attempts of evasive denial and downplaying the severity of this crime are a blemish on its human rights record. The role of the young Pakistani and Azerbaijani diaspora in enhancing the recognition of this conflict under the auspices of international law will also be discussed in detail at the end.
On 26 February 1992, the Armenian forces and the 366th CIS regiment jointly surrounded and attacked the unarmed civilian population in the town of Khojaly in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh where the war between the pro-Armenian factions and Azerbaijani forces had been going on for quite some time.
In the aftermath of this attack, it was reported that 613 residents of Khojaly were mercilessly killed, 487 were disabled, 1,275 civilians were taken hostage, and were subjected to reprisals, insults, and humiliations. Around 150 people are still missing.
What happened in the aftermath of this genocide proved the utter contempt and malice in the hearts of the Armenian people against the peaceful Azerbaijani populace which suffered from this massacre. Armenian politician and former Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan has repeatedly spewed venom and has refused to show any regret regarding this genocide. He once shamelessly admitted:
“Before Khojaly, the Azerbaijanis thought that they were joking with us, they thought that the Armenians were people who could not raise their hand against the civilian population. We were able to break that [stereotype]. And that’s what happened.”
There are many other admissions of this kind by prominent Armenians which make it extremely necessary to expose the graveness and extent of this war crime under the provisions of international humanitarian law. Moreover, it is also the need of the hour to expose the outrageous paradoxical hypocrisy of the Armenian people and government who shed crocodile tears by exaggerating and concocting events of WW I to play victim before the international community but are not hesitant to boost their genocidal activities against their immediate neighbors during the recent decades.
Cooperation between Pakistani & Azerbaijani Youth Diaspora for recognition of Khojaly Genocide before International Community:
Pakistan has substantially helped Azerbaijan over the course of past decades in highlighting the now-ended Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and Khojaly genocide before the international community. From playing an instrumental role in passing UNSC resolutions 822, 853, 874, and 884 in 1993 to formally accepting the Khojaly genocide on 1 February 2012, the State of Pakistan has extended full support vis-à-vis recognition of Khojaly genocide before the international community which continues to this day.
Nevertheless, the decades-long influence and sympathy for Armenia orchestrated by its diaspora around the world means that it is imperative to highlight the true nature of the Khojaly massacre by all means possible. For achieving this goal, young members of the Azerbaijani and Pakistani diaspora have considerably cooperated to highlight this genocide before the whole world.
For example, efforts from the general coordinator of the OIC Youth Forum on intercultural dialogue and the vice-president of Heydar Aliyev Founcation, Leyla Aliyeva, have played a decisive role in having the Khojaly genocide recognized in the international arena. Since early 2008, Leyla Aliyeva’s international campaign ‘Justice for Khojaly’ has made a great contribution in bringing the reality of the bloody events of Khojaly in front of the world community. Large-scale events have been held annually in more than 100 countries so far which include the USA, France, and Germany as part of this campaign. As a result of these and many other such activities, young members of the Pakistani diaspora have actively participated in activities about recognition of the Khojaly genocide before prominent international forums like OIC.
It is also an important task for the young diaspora of both countries to highlight the illegality of the Khojaly genocide before the international community by proving the violation of relevant international laws in this context. This act of genocide is clearly in contravention of the articles 2,3,5,9 and 17 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Apart from UDHR, under the initial provisions of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide 1948, killing, causing serious physical or mental harm and deliberate inflicting of conditions of physical destructions to the members of a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group can be construed as genocide.
Moreover, article 6 of the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court also expressly defines genocide similarly and provides valid locus standi for the International Criminal Court to take cognizance of Khojaly genocide against its shameless perpetrators who are still roaming freely in Armenia after showing utter contempt and disregard to aforementioned prohibitions against acts of genocide under the provisions of international law. Statute of the Nuremberg Military Tribunal and Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia also explicitly and periodically prohibit genocidal activities.
The European Court of Human Rights has also given its valid opinion vis-à-vis this genocide. On 22nd April 2010, it noted, in particular, the following:
“It appears that the reports available from independent sources indicate that at the time of the capture of Khojaly on the night of 25 to 26 February 1992 hundreds of civilians of Azerbaijani ethnic origin were reportedly killed, wounded, or taken hostage, during their attempt to flee the captured town, by Armenian fighters attacking the town” (emphasis added).
A close analysis of the event of Khojaly genocide openly manifests that all these essential elements for calling the Khojaly massacre a genocide are present under the aforementioned provisions of international law. Moreover, all these aforementioned international conventions and decisions have been elaborated hereinabove because they provide valid impetus to the young Pakistani and Azerbaijani diaspora around the world to gather themselves and raise voice for recognition of the Khojaly massacre as a disastrous blemish on Armenia's conniving attitude against Azerbaijani people and its own human rights record.
Prospects for Better Cooperation for Raising Khojaly Massacre:
The policy of Global Outreach:
Global outreach provides valid opportunity for people around the world to learn about issues of poverty and injustice and how they are interconnected throughout our greater world community. Both Azerbaijani and Pakistani diaspora can accompany various communities and build relationships of mutual reciprocity and responsibility vis-à-vis the Khojaly massacre.
Young Azerbaijani and Pakistani diaspora living in different countries across the globe can participate in various types of awareness campaigns through different types of scholarly and educational activities.
Public Outreach Campaigns:
Public outreach campaigns can be intensified by members of Pakistani and Azerbaijani youth diaspora around the world for provision of justice for the victims of Khojaly massacre. Common people in both these countries along with various other parts of the world can be approached for creating a cohesive and popular opinion about this genocide.
The brutal Armenian forces killed and wounded hundreds of innocent Azerbaijani civilians on 26 February 1992 in the town of Khojaly. This outrageous act of genocide has been recognized by many countries and organizations around the world but there is still a long way to go for holding its real perpetrators accountable before relevant international legal forums.
For achieving this goal, successive Azerbaijani and Pakistani governments, organizations, and people have played a proactive role to counter the fictitious and concocted narrative of the Armenian diaspora vis-à-vis this massacre. Nevertheless, the next generation of Azerbaijani and Pakistani diaspora around the world must join hands to conduct activities to manifest the sheer brutality and illegality committed by Armenian forces during this incident. Governments, non-government organizations, and prominent think tanks like CGSS in both Pakistan have done considerable efforts to engage the youth of both countries and beyond in pursuance of this goal and are eager to conduct more collaborative activities in this regard.
Nasir Zaman, Research Assistant, Center for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS), Islamabad
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