DAYS OF SORROW


Azerbaijan commemorates 27th anniversary of Khojaly massacre

Baku, February 8, AZERTAC

Khojaly is a district located in the mountainous Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. It was one of the settlements of this administrative unit that was inhabited predominantly by Azerbaijanis. On the night of February 25-26, 1992 Armenian military forces seized the Azerbaijani town of Khojaly. As a result of occupation, 25 historical monuments, six religious monuments and 112 cultural and educational centres were destroyed. As some of its residents, accompanied by retreating Azerbaijani militia and self-defense forces, fled Khojaly seeking to cross the border to reach Aghdam, they approached Armenian military posts and were fired. 613 civilians perished, including 106 women and 63 children.

These pictures were taken by foreign journalists, namely Frederique Lengaigne and Victoria Ivleva in Khojaly during occupation by Armenian armed forces in 1992.

1,275 Khojaly residents were taken hostages, while 150 people to this day remain unaccounted for. In the course of the massacre, 487 inhabitants of Khojaly were severely dismembered, including 76 children. Six families were completely wiped out, 26 children lost both parents and 130 children lost one of their parents. 56 of those who were murdered with particular cruelty: most were slaughtered, some were burned alive, beheaded, some were mutilated, and others were scalped.

The crimes committed in Khojaly by the Republic of Armenia, its political and military leadership as well as subordinated local armed groups is approved by numerous facts, including investigative records, testimonies of the eyewitnesses and evidences from international media sources. The “velvet revolution” of 2018 in Armenia once again realized that they were led by criminal junta regime for 20 years, the regime committed series of massacres against Azerbaijanis. I remind here the quote of President Ilham Aliyev about criminal junta regime. The president said: "Today, Armenian people talk about the things that I have been talking for years. I exposed the former criminal regime of Armenia from the highest tribune of the world, from the tribune of the UN. I called them by names, I accused them of the Khojaly genocide, war crimes. I named the former leadership of Armenia a bloodthirsty, criminal, bandit regime. All this is true. I told the truth, today the Armenian people say this truth. The Armenian people finally realized that for 20 years they were led by a criminal junta regime, a regime that pursued only its own interests, a regime, because of unsatisfactory and criminal activity of which, Armenia found itself in such a deplorable state."

In addition, the European Court of Human Rights had made an important conclusion in consistent with the crime committed in Khojaly, qualifying the behaviour of those carrying out the incursion as “acts of particular gravity which may amount to war crimes or crime against humanity”. Likely, following observations have been made by the European Court which leaves no room for doubts as the question of qualification of the crime and ensuring responsibility for it:

“It appears that the reports available from independent sources indicate that at the time of the capture of Khojaly on the night of 25-26 February 1992, hundreds of civilians of Azerbaijani ethnic origin were reportedly killed, wounded or taken hostages during their attempt to flee the captured town by Armenian fighters attacking the town”.

“The offenses committed against the civilians in Khojaly constitute a crime of genocide. Article 2 of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948) defines genocide as aby of the following acts committed with intend to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

According to these criteria, “unlawful acts” and “specific intention” are the main elements of the crime of genocide”. Based upon the facts and evidences that the intentional massacre of the civilians in Khojaly was directed at their mass extermination solely because they were Azerbaijanis. In addition, there were some reports by international non-governmental organizations condemning the Khojaly massacre. Thus, Human Rights Watch noted in the Report of 1993 under the title of “The former Soviet Union: Azerbaijan” that during the winter of 1992, Armenian forces went on the offensive, forcing almost the entire Azerbaijani population of the enclave to flee, and committing unconscionable acts of violence against civilians as they fled. The most notorious of these attacks occurred on February 25 in the village of Khojaly. “A large column of residents, accompanied by a few dozen retreating fighters, fled the city as it fell to Armenian forces. They came across as Armenian military post and were cruelly fired upon. At least 161 civilians are known to have been murdered in this incident, although Azerbaijani officials estimate that about 800 perished. Armenian forces killed unarmed civilians and soldiers were hors de combat, and looted and sometimes burned homes…”. The facts illustrated by the international organizations and non-governmental organizations leave no doubts that Armenian terrorist authority is responsible for all.

For the sake of comprehensive representation of the Khojaly genocide to the English speaking readers, I would like to add some more facts which have been recorded by the international press. International press has always played a vital role in shedding light on crimes against humanity, sharing how they happen and who is responsible for massacred civilians and surviving refugees of inhumane wars.

Thomas Goltz is an American journalist with expertise in the history and politics of region having personally witnessed the scene of massacre. During his observation at the killing fields, Goltz described the carnage, noting that “number of (victim`s) heads lacked hair, as if the corpses had been scalped”. Another description by Pascal Privat and Steve Le Vine, the correspondent of “Newsweek” says “Azerbaijan was a charnel house again last week: a place of mourning refugees and dozens of mangled corpses dragged to a makeshift morgue behind the mosque. They were ordinary Azerbaijani men, women and children of Khojaly, a small village in war-torn Nagorno-Karabakh overrun by Armenian forces on February 25-26. Many were killed at close range while trying to flee; some had their faces mutilated, others were scalped, while the victims' families mourned”. The list can be extended having analyzed the articles from the “Washington Times” by Brian Killen, “The Boston Globe” by Paul Quinn-Judge, “The Times” by Anatol Lieven, “The Sunday Times” by Thomas Goltz and etc. These articles were published in 1992. It should be highlighted that this tragedy has not been gained its true price under the dominant campaign of denialism and revisionism. We, as an Azerbaijani people, believe that the day when perpetrators will answer before the international justice and bring to the court is not far from the reality.

Rafi Gurbanov,

Deputy head of the Department of the International Relations

The State Committee on Religious Associations of the Republic of Azerbaijan

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