DAYS OF SORROW


BERNAMA news agency: Almost three decades, a long wait for justice for Khojaly victims

Baku, February 26, AZERTAC

The Malaysian National News Agency BERNAMA has published an article commemorating the 29th anniversary of Khojaly genocide headlined “Almost three decades, a long wait for justice for Khojaly victims”.

Written by Rachminakan Ravichandran, the article provides an insight into the history of genocide committed by Armenians on the night of February 26, 1992, as well as analyses the social and political aspects of the tragedy.

“Every year, as the month of February approaches its end, one painful event in Azerbaijan's modern history comes to the minds of millions of its people - the Khojaly tragedy, where the Azerbaijani people will never miss, to commemorate and honour the memory of the victims of the tragedy that occurred on the night of February 25 to February 26 1992.

As this year marks the 29th anniversary of the bloody and unforgettable event which many described as one of the most horrible tragedies of the late 20th century, Azerbaijanis and its Diaspora around the world will again honour the memory of the victims through various events.

The pains are more intense among Azerbaijanis as justice had not been meted out against those responsible for the killings despite the passing of almost three decades, and the people continue to demand justice for Khojaly victims.

They are asking why the international community has yet to do anything concrete like what they have done in other similar cases around the world to bring to justice those responsible for this heinous crime.

The Khojaly tragedy refers to the killing of 613 ethnic Azerbaijani civilians in February 1992 in Khojaly, a small town in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Since then, the Azerbaijani government had been pushing its cause on the international arena to recognise the killings as an act of genocide, and some positive results has been seen so far in its untiring efforts to send a political message to the perpetrators that in no way can a culture of impunity prevail.

According to the Azerbaijan government's statistics, the number included 106 women, 63 children, and 70 elderly people. Besides that, 1,275 people were taken as hostages while 150 more are still missing.

The people and the government of Azerbaijan believe the tragedy would not happen if not because of the Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh, and that the Khojaly tragedy was another consequence of that policy of illegal occupation, which they said was perpetrated by Armenian nationalists and their supporters against the Azerbaijani people.

The conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia started in 1988 - three years before the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 - following Armenia's territorial claims against Azerbaijan.

And in 1992, war broke out between the two former Soviet states, resulting in Armenia's occupation of 20 per cent of Azerbaijan's internationally recognised territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts.

The Milli Majlis (National Parliament) of the Republic of Azerbaijan gave its political and legal assessment to the Khojaly tragedy in 1994, at the initiative of the National Leader Heydar Aliyev, after his return to power. Thus, the date of February 26 was declared "Day of the Khojaly Genocide" and the truth about the tragedy was conveyed to the world countries and international community.

The international campaign "Justice for Khojaly!" initiated by Vice-President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Leyla Aliyeva, who has played a special role in conveying the truth about the tragedy to the world community.

Currently, the Khojaly massacre is recognised and commemorated by parliamentary acts adopted in numerous countries,” the article says.

“Azerbaijan's Ambassador to Malaysia Prof. Dr. Qaley Allahverdiyev told Bernama that if the society of Armenia doesn't bring the perpetrators of the tragedy to justice, "Armenia not only will continue to drag the heavy burden of this crime against humanity, but also will deprive itself of a reliable neighborhood status.”

“He stressed that today the Armenia-Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh conflict had been consigned to history and a new and promising page has been turned in the cooperation of the South Caucasus region,” the article mentions.

"I think that the society of Armenia must very urgently erase all stains of its past like what happened in Khojaly genocide in order to join actively new process and make contributions to peace and cooperation,” said Allahverdiyev, who is also the Dean of Diplomatic Corps in Malaysia.

“The ambassador said Azerbaijan and its people will continue to fight for justice for Khojaly victims to get international support to recognise the killings committed in Khojaly as an act of genocide,” the article says.

“Following the Second Karabakh War between Armenia and Azerbaijan which erupted on September 27 ,2020, the two neighboring countries signed a Russian-brokered agreement on Nov. 10, 2020, to end the fighting and work towards a comprehensive resolution to their protracted conflict.

Under the deal, which is seen by many as a victory for Azerbaijan, Armenia handed over three of the districts it occupied to Azerbaijan. Armenia also lost control of another four occupied districts to Azerbaijan in the war. All these are adjacent districts of Nagorno-Karabakh. The city of Shusha in Nagorno-Karabakh is also back in Azerbaijan's control,” the author says.

“The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (DIC), in a statement on the occasion of the 28th anniversary of the tragedy last year, mentioned that its Secretary-General Dr Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen paid his sincere tribute to all who lost their lives in the 1992 incident.

In the statement carried by Azerbaijan State News Agency (AZERTAC), it said that the OIC considers that the Khojaly atrocity was a result of the illegal occupation of Azerbaijani territory by Armenia.

The Secretary-General referred to the Cairo Final Communique adopted by the 12th Session of the Islamic Summit held in Cairo in 2013 and the resolutions adopted by previous sessions of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM), including the 46th Session of the CFM held in Abu Dhabi in 2019, which considered the actions perpetrated against civilian Azerbaijan population in the occupied Azerbaijani territories as war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide,” the article mentions.

“Meanwhile, in a statement in conjunction with the 29th anniversary of the tragedy, Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsperson) of Azerbaijan Sabina Aliyeva called on international organisations and individual states to recognise the Khojaly massacre as an act of genocide and a crime against humanity so that its perpetrators could be brought to justice.”

“'The Khojaly genocide, which occurred in front of the eyes of the world at the end of the 20th century, is a crime committed not only against Azerbaijani people but also against the whole of humanity. Unfortunately, despite the fact that 29 years have passed since this tragedy, the act of genocide in Khojaly has not yet received its due political and legal assessment on the part of the international community and its perpetrators are still not brought to justice," she said.

The Azerbaijani Ombudsperson pointed out that the lack of adequate reaction by the world community to the Khojaly tragedy is not only immoral but also unacceptable because it sets the ground for the repetition of such of crimes in the future.

“The Feb. 22 statement was among others addressed to the United Nations Secretary-General, the UN Security Council, the European Union, Council of Europe, Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the DIC and the Ombudsman Association of its member states, as well as the embassies of Azerbaijan in foreign countries and the foreign embassies in Azerbaijan,” the article concludes.

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