By Zaman Bajwa
February is the month which ends winter and opens the doors of spring and hope for plants to bloom new flowers. The spring brings the new beginning with it positive mood. But the month of February 1992 turned into a tragic Massacre for Khojaly, the second largest town of Nagorno- Karabakh in Azerbaijan with a total area of 7.5 km square, with the only airport in the region. This massacre is as terrible as human tragedies like the Holocaust, Lidice, Ordour-Sur- Glane, Rwanda and Srebrenica where millions of civilians were killed. These have been recorded in human history as acts against humanity and genocide….
Every spring Elkhan Huseynov, whitness of Khojaly massacre from Azerbaijan hopes that he will get any information about his wife and 3 children for 26 years:“Khojaly massacre comitted by armenian forces, took my family. While attacking the city, all civilians ran away to the forest passing the Gargar river , which is hard to pass it in cold weather in winter. Though they tried to escape from attacks, armenians found them where they hide, mmost innocent civilians, especially women, children, elders were brutally massacred on this night. I will never forget this horrible night, because I was separated from my family, I dont know whether they are alive or dead till that time….”—Elkhan Huseynov said.
This horrible massacre took place on the night of 25 February 1992. The Armenian forces attacked the unarmed and unprotected city of Khojaly with the support of the 366th Motor Rifle Battalion of the former USSR, deployed in Khankandi city.
Khojaly city had been in blockade for several monthes till the occupation of the city. From October 1991, the town was entirely surrounded by Armenian forces, they cut off all communication sources and then attacked the city with artillery and heavy weapons in 26 February 1992.
The Armenian forces occupied the town. The Khojaly city became massacred town in 1992. The houses of the town were burnt and destroyed, the civilians who couldnt escape were taken hostage by occupant forces.
Ancient Khojaly was razed to the ground over night. Till the 26 February 1992, Khojaly was known as the town with its new constructions and modern buildingsof tht time and was famous with its ancient culture. Khojaly belongs to the Khojaly-Gadabay culture dating back to the 14th-7th centuries B.C. Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age funeral memorials, such as stone boxes; barrows and necropolis were discovered in this town. This ancient culture was also destroyed by occupational forces. This was not only a great lost of Azerbaijan but also the lost of the entire humanity.
As result of all this brutal attack, 613 Azerbaijanis lost their lives, 487 were disabled, 1275 civilians were taken hostage. During this massacre some of the citizens managed to escape from the town and ran to the near mountains and Ketik forest. Khojaly massacre witness Seadet Zeynalova said that all civilians ran to the forest hoping that they could hide there from attacks. According to her, they moved with little groups consist of dozens persons hoping that they could find the way to the Aghdam district, which was under control of Azerbaijan Republic. “Most persons moving in front of us were massacred and some of them were taken hostage by armenian gunmen, some persons were frozen in the forest. I and my little brother hided from armenian militants several days in the forests. And thanks Allah, we found the way and reached Aghdam. My relatives knew that we died. But we saved from this terrible day. We will never forget what armenians did against Khojaly habitants.”
The Khojaly Massacre was covered by international media and described this tragedy in their own way but all of them declared Armenia responsible for the terrible event.
The Sunday Times (1 March 1992) narrated that, Armenian soldiers massacred hundreds of fleeing families: “ Adgam hospital was a scene of carnage and terror. Doctors said they treated 140 patients who had escaped slaughter, mostly with bullet injuries or deep stab wounds.”
The Washington Times ( 2 March 1992) Armenian raid leaves Azerbaijanis dead or fleeing: “Azerbaijani television showed truckloads of corpses being evacuated from the Khojaly area. ”
The Times (1 March 1992) Corpses litter hills in Karabakh: “The refugees had been shot down as they ran.”
The New York Times (3 March 1992) Massacres by Armenians being reported: “Azerbaijani officials and journalists who flew briefly to the region by helicopter brought back three dead children, with the backs of their heads blown off.”
The Times (3 March 1992) Massacre uncovered: “ More than 60 bodies, including those of women and children, have been spotted on hillsides in Nagorno- Karabakh, hundreds are missing.”
News Week (16 March 1992) The face of massacre: “Many were killed at close range while trying to flee; some had their faces mutilated, others were scalped.”
Human Rights Organization condemned this massacre. Human Rights Watch found Armenia’s explanations profusely ‘unconvincing’. A Moscow based Human Rights group stated that: “The mass killings of civilians in Khojaly could not be justified under any circumstances and the actions of Armenian militants were in gross violation of several International Human rights conventions.”
According to independent investigations, it is reported that more than 50 Armenian officers were part of the units under command of Armenian defense minister Seyram Dhanyan and commander of the 3rd Battalion 366th regiment Yevgenin Nabokika.
During an interview, the current president of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan was asked about the Khojaly tragedy by a British journalist; he had openly admitted the involvement of Armenian forces in the crime. He said “Before Khojaly the Azerbaijanis thought that …. The Armenians were people who could not raise hands against the civilians. We were able to break that stereotype. ” After this statement from such a high rank, no other words are needed.
Regardless of a coverage on International Media, immediately the Western countries turned their focus on other conflicts of the era such as Balkans and Rwanda. As a result, the majority of the world is not aware about the scale of tragic massacre and atrocities done by aggressor Armenia.
The national leader, Heydar Aliyev of Azerbaijan brought this issue in front of the World after coming into power in 1993. Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan gave a political and legal assessment of Khojaly Genocide.
On the occasion of 10th anniversary of Khojaly Genocide on 25 February 2002, national leader Heydar Aliyev emphasized on the historic and political importance of this genocide: “Khojaly massacre is the bloodiest page and continuation of the policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide continuously conducted by the Armenian chauvinists and nationalists against the Azerbaijanis over around 200 years.”
Pakistan, Mexico, Turkey, Colombia, Guatemala, Peru, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Jordan, Israel, Sudan, Honduras, Djibouti, Paraguay, as well as the legislative bodies of 20 states of the U.S., have adopted resolutions to recognize this tragic crime as a genocide.
Elkhan Huseynov is one of the Khojaly inhabitants who whitnessed the massacre. He still can’t find his wife and 3 children though 26 years passed the Khojaly massacre.