Khojaly Genocide — Twenty Years On

DASHGIN SHIKAROV

 

Armenian-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict rages on for the last more than 20 years. Nagorno-Karabakh is an enclave located within the internationally recognised borders of Azerbaijan. From ancient times up to the early 19th century, this region was part of different Azerbaijani states and populated by Azerbaijanis. Rapid mass resettlement of Armenians in the Azerbaijani lands took place after the signing of Gulustan and Turkmanchay treaties in 1813 and 1828 between Russiaand Iranaccordingly. As per these agreements the Northern Azerbaijanwas annexed to Russiawhile the southern one to Iran. From 1828 to 1916 alone, more than 1,350 million Armenians were resettled from Iranand Turkeyin Azerbaijani territories. It was precisely that time when Armenians appeared in Nagorno-Karabakh region. Ultimately, the process ended up with creation of Armeniaon the historical lands of Azerbaijan. In 1918 the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic with Nagorno-Karabakh as a part of it came to being. The independence lasted only for 23 months and it took another 71 years for Azerbaijanis to regain it on 18 October, 1991.

During the agony of the Soviet regime, the Armenian nationalists with support of the USSR leadership raised territorial claims to Azerbaijan demanding Nagorno-Karabakh district. Interethnic violence erupted in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. About 300,000 Azerbaijanis living in Armenia were expelled from their homeland. Subsequently, same was the destiny of Azerbaijanis of Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia exploited situation by invading the enclave and 7 other districts of Azerbaijan. Nearly one million civilians in total were driven from their homes during the savage fighting and subsequent ethnic cleansing of captured territories. More than 20,000 Azerbaijanis lost their lives. The act of genocide committed by Armenian aggressors in Khojaly town of Nagorno-Karabakh is the most tragic page of Azerbaijan’s modern history. The town was under the siege since October, 1991. There were no regular armed forces there. Over night from February 25 to 26, 1992, Armenian armed forces with support of former Soviet regiment stormed Khojaly town firing by artillery, missiles and tanks. Town was blocked from three sides and people tried to escape to safe direction. But that was a trap. Near Nakhchivanik village the Armenians opened fire on unarmed people. Hundreds of children, women, elderly, frostbitten and weaken in the deep snow and mountain passes became the victims of brutality of Armenians. As a result 613 people were killed, among them: 63 children, 106 women, 70 elderly. 8 families were killed completely, 25 children lost both and 130 one of their parent. 487 people were wounded, including 76 children, 1,275 people were made hostages, 150 people went missing. Later, the Armenian side admitted that one of the main goals of Armenian armed forces was the “liquidation of Khojaly” and as it was said by one of the commanders of this genocide Serj Sarkisyan, who is presently the President of Armenia, “…our aim was to break a stereotype that Armenians can not annihilate civil population”. Another active participant of the genocide general Seyran Oghanyan was promoted to the position of Defence Minister of Armenian Republic. Only after few days the group of local and foreign journalists could reach the place of massacre. Awful sight shocked all — the field was covered by hundreds of mutilated dead bodies. The dead bodies were scalped, their ears, extremities were chopped off, the eyes were put out, nailed pulled off, many of them were smashed by tanks. Pregnant women’s abdomens were cut, both mother and a baby finished off afterwards. Those days the foreign media wrote: “Crual L’Eveneman” magazine (Paris): “The Armenians attacked Khojaly district. The whole world became the witness of the disfigured dead bodies…. thousands of people killed”.

“Times” newspaper (London), “Many people were mutilated, and it was remained only the head of one little girl” “Izvestiya” newspaper (Moscow), “…Camcorder showed the kids with the cut off ears. One old woman was cut off the half of her face. The men were scalped…” “Le Monde” newspaper (Paris), “… The foreign journalists in Aghdam saw the women and three scalped children with the pulled off nails among the killed people. This is not “Azerbaijani propaganda”, but reality”.

“Valer actuel” magazine (Paris), “…Armenians annihilated Azerbaijanis of Karabakh, implemented bloody massacre in more than 100 Muslim villages”. In 1993 Mr. Heydar Aliyev was elected a President of Azerbaijan. The crisis unified Azerbaijanis behind their leader and a new national army was hastily established. By 1994 Azerbaijan Army was able to halt Armenian offensive. Once the fighting became a stalemate, a ceasefire agreement was signed and those combat positions have remained the demarcation line between Azerbaijan and Armenia till present day. Since 1993, the UN has passed a total of four resolutions directing the Armenian forces to withdraw their forces from the occupied lands, which still remains unimplemented. Efforts under the auspices of Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe to resolve the conflict have not yet produced a final status agreement. The policy of ethnic cleansing against Azerbaijanis started in the beginning of 20th century. More than 500,000 Azerbaijanis were driven from their homes in Armenia during 1905-1948. The Khojaly genocide was not the first such act of Armenians. In 1918 Armenian nationalists committed mass annihilation of Muslim population of Shamakhi, Baku, Guba, Salyan and many other cities of Azerbaijan. More than 40,000 people fall grey of that massacre. Interestingly, the Khojaly atrocity was made by representatives of so-called “persecuted nation” who claims to be a victim of Turkish genocide. Those who oratories of human rights and values annihilated human beings with medieval brutality. Ironically, those who blame Muslims for the terrorism, committed the acts of terror in the city transport of Baku and the other regions of Azerbaijan during 90s, killing hundreds of civilians. Moreover, Armenians own one of the largest terrorist network in the world namely ASALA, which murdered 44 Turkish diplomats all over the world.

It is pertinent to mention that Pakistan has taken a principal stand on the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh and did not build up relations with Armenia due to occupation of Azerbaijani lands. I avail this opportunity to thank the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate of Pakistan for adoption of resolution on February 1, 2012 condemning the occupation of Azerbaijani territories and the genocide committed by Armenian armed forces in Khojaly. The resolution also called upon the international community to urge Armenia for implementation of the decisions of UN Security Council.

I hope, the world community will raise its voice against violation of international law, atrocities committed against Azerbaijanis and follow the lead of Pakistan condemning the Khojaly genocide.

The writer is the ambassador ofAzerbaijan toPakistan

[The News]

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