The genocide of Azerbaijanis in Khojaly

The act of genocide committed in Khojaly was one of the worst tragedies of the 20th century.

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February 22, 2019 07:27
The genocide of Azerbaijanis in Khojaly

AZERBAIJAN’S PRESIDENT Ilham Aliyev meets with Azerbaijani refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh at a special camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) in 2018.. (photo credit: SPUTNIK.AZ)

 
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This past week, the Municipality of Acre, the Azerbaijan House, the Coordination Center for Mountainous Jews from Azerbaijan and the Israeli NGO International Projects for the Society held the 27th Commemoration Anniversary of the Khojaly Act of Genocide – one of the most horrific tragedies in the history of the modern Republic of Azerbaijan.

In the framework of the “Justice for Khojaly” International Awareness Campaign, Israeli political and public figures and the Azerbaijan Jewish Community in Israel observed Memorial Day and visited the photo exhibition of the Khojaly genocide, organized by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. Members of the Knesset and the Parliament of Azerbaijan, representative from the foundation as well as from Israel’s political parties, municipal authorities, and accredited heads of diplomatic missions were invited to attend the memorial.

The act of genocide committed in Khojaly was one of the worst tragedies of the 20th century. The world needs to know more about the misfortunes and cruelties that Armenian nationalists committed against the peaceful Azerbaijani population in the occupied lands.

Why did the Armenians choose Khojaly as their target? Apart from the strategic objectives, they wanted to destroy Khojaly as a settlement that reflects the historical and cultural heritage of the city. This culture is known as the Khojaly-Gadabay culture and dates back to the 16th century BCE. Funerary monuments such as stone boxes, barrows and a necropolis belonging to the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age, as well as a round crypt and mausoleum were discovered.

During the archaeological excavations, decorations made of stone, bronze, and bone as well as household items made of ceramics were found. The name of the Assyrian king Adad-nirari (807-788 circa BCE) is inscribed on the one of the beads found in Khojaly. Armenian terrorists destroyed all monuments of culture of the Khojaly cemetery, which was considered one of the ancient burial grounds.

Khojaly, one of the ancient settlements of Azerbaijan, was ruined and burned in one night. Armenian armed forces and mercenary units gave no qualms about the people of Khojaly, who had not managed to leave the city.

The storming of the city began with a two-hour artillery bombardment. Khojaly was blocked from three sides, and fire broke out and burned almost the entire city. Many civilians were killed by shells in the first hours of the assault. After the firing began, the Armenian fascists used loudspeakers to inform civilians that a corridor was open for them to leave the city.

The military personnel of the Russian Army’s 366th regiment were active in the storming of Khojaly. At first the press center of the CIS Joint Armed Forces denied this fact. However, on March 11, 1992 the newspaper Red Star confirmed the participation of the 366th regiment in the fighting.

Yuri Girenko, who served in the 97th separate engineering department, confirmed that the soldiers of the 366th regiment who were mostly Armenian took part in the attack. Why did the Armenians appear to be in the Soviet battalion, which was located in the area of confrontation between the Armenians and Azerbaijanis? Clearly, this tactic was planned and thought out in advance.

Armenians from the regiment, having gathered soldiers, as well as volunteers of other nations, began a bloody attack of Khojaly. When the residents attempted to leave the city at 2 a.m. via the corridor, which was between 100 to 300 meters wide, they were raked with machine-gun fire. A startling 613 people were killed, 487 people were crippled, and 1275 old men, children and women were captured and subjected to torture and humiliation. The civilians who managed to escape were brutally murdered in the forests by the Armenian military.

 The Khojaly civilian population was massacred because they were Azerbaijanis. One group of refugees managed to cross the river. They were soaked to the skin, and though they tried to hide in the nearby mountains, most of them died from hypothermia by morning.

Once all the Khojaly citizens had been slaughtered, imprisoned, or had fled, Armenian soldiers took control of the region with the partial objective of obscuring the gravity of the massacre. Azerbaijani helicopters attempted to retrieve the bodies, but came under continuous fire. Most of the dead were carried in vehicles, transported by the truckload. The massacre at Khojaly by Armenia contravened international law, violated the Geneva conventions and articles 2, 3, 5, 9, and 17 of the Declaration of Human Rights (adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948).

THE AMERICAN JOURNALIST Thomas Goltz described the scene, saying, “The battered cars with wheels but without tires, piled high with rugs, pots and pans, rattled... choking with exhaust gases and bending under the weight of the mattresses and the iron beds. People were trying to overtake a tractor trailer used for transportation of cotton, where grubby kids and quacking ducks sat among the dumped in a pile of clothes. Usually there were men at the end of the column, who either rode the donkeys, or led the mules pulling carts. Barefoot shepherds were driving frightened sheep, cows and calves, who tried to get under the wheels of a passing truck, to the other side of the road.”

The exile of the Azerbaijani refugees from their land was one of the largest in Europe since World War II. The Land of Fire and its people were at the entryway of hell. They were betrayed, cheated and abandoned.

Khojaly was the next stage of the capture and ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijani territories, creating panic and fear of shocking brutality. This barbaric cruelty toward innocent children, women and old people has no explanation.

Together with the representatives of the Israeli media, I met several times with the Khojaly survivors who were captured by the Armenian armed forces. They told terrible things about Armenian savagery and showed us signs of tortured.

Ali Hasanov, the Azerbaijani president’s assistant for public and political affairs said: “Civilians were killed in Khojaly. They were killed because they were Azerbaijanis. Even old people and children leaving the city were killed. It is the notion of genocide that reflects the essence of this tragedy,” he said.


“By telling the world the truth about Khojaly, and erecting monuments in memory of the victims of this tragedy, the Azerbaijani state does not intend to inculcate hostile sentiments against the Armenian people. We want the world community to know those criminals, who were representatives of the Armenian people and stayed in power for a long time. We want to convey the essence of the acts committed by them so that such bloody tragedies will not recur.”

TESTIMONIES OF EYEWITNESSES TO THE MASSACRE

Major Leonid Kravets, helicopter pilot of the Russian Air Force:

“I took the wounded people out and returned them through the Askeran gates. I flew lower and my flight engineer shouted: ‘Look, there are women and children.’ I noticed about two hundred dead, scattered around the slope, and people carrying firearms wandering among them. Then we flew over that area to pick up the corpses. Everywhere I saw the mutilated bodies of women, children and old people. Many of them were killed at close range while trying to flee, while others had their faces mutilated”.
Elman Mamadov, former mayor of Khojaly:

“Khojaly was a small town in Nagorno-Karabakh. In the early 90s the population increased because of the arrival of Azerbaijani refugees from Armenia and Meskhetian Turks refugees from Uzbekistan. When the population reached 10,000, Khojaly had the second largest Azerbaijani population, second only to Shusha.”

Isai Svirsky, honored builder of Azerbaijan, citizen of Israel:

“I am one of the builders of Khojaly. Peaceful people lived here. They raised their children, dreamed of a bright future, built houses, roads, schools, kindergartens and nurseries. I never thought that something like that could happen there.”
Dourdane Agayeva, cockpit communicator Khojaly:

“I witnessed events that those who escaped through the forest did not see. The shooting continued every night, and we had become accustomed to it, but this time it was particularly intense... At about 11:30 p.m. our neighbor said that the shooting had stopped, and we could go home. However, it turned out to be an Armenian trick to calm people down. They launched an offensive to capture the airfield. The door opened, and frightened neighbor Uncle Abdullah, whose family also was with us, appeared. ‘What are you going here? People are escaping through the forest!’ We crawled to the forest.”

“We leaped when we could, and when the shooting was intense, we crawled through the snow. A bullet hit me in the ankle. I could not run anymore, and crawling became difficult. I don’t remember what happened next. When I awoke, there was blood on the bushes and trees, and bloodied shreds of clothes. There were numerous corpses of children and men around me. I lost consciousness and woke up in the morning. We crawled to a place from... ten minutes from the Aghdam village of Shelley. I saw a fellow villager named Valeh, walking with his wife Saadet. They had recently gotten married and Saadat was pregnant. I saw the bullet enter her stomach. Valeh yelled, ‘Saadet! Saadet!!!’ Saadet was a year younger than me. I crept closer and said, ‘Valeh, do not worry, she will recover,’ but he did not hear, and repeated: ‘Saadat was killed, she’s gone!’ and he hit himself in the head in despair.”

“The bullets flew thick and fast. I crawled into a ditch. I looked around, and I noticed my brother hidden in a small hole. He was covered with blood and his face was smeared with dirt. The bullet hit him in the right side. Valeh was unable to protect the body of his wife and crawled after me into the same ditch. There was also Gamboi, a refugee from Khankendi. He was crawling with his 5-year-old son. My brother, Valeh, Gamboi and his son, and I were all in the ditch. There, we were captured by the Armenians.”

TODAY, THE PEOPLE installed in the administrative management of Armenia, such as former president Serzh Sargsyan, former defense minister Seyran Ohanyan, former president Robert Kocharyan and dozens of former government men were directly involved in the extermination and ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijanis. The successors of Armenian fascists Dro and Nzhdeh are incumbent Sargsyan and Ohanyan, both of whom committed the bloody massacre in the Azerbaijani town of Khojaly in the late 20th century. There are many materials and video documents as well as testimonies provided by witnesses, which confirm the participation of the above-mentioned high-ranking officials of the Republic of Armenia in the Khojaly massacre.

Unlike the Nazis who tried to hide their crimes, some of these individuals gave interviews to the foreign media. There they justified and boasted of their barbarous criminal acts against Azerbaijanis in Khojaly. Sargsyan’s words say it all: “Before Khojaly, the Azerbaijanis thought that the Armenians were people who could not raise their hand against the civilian population. We were able to break that stereotype.”

The bloody act of genocide – which was committed with incredible brutality and barbarism in Khojaly – is one of the most horrible tragedies of the late 20th century.

Cruel and merciless scenes of that massacre will remain a scar in the hearts of Azerbaijanis. This is a tragedy for innocent Azerbaijanis, whose lives were cut short because of the massacre perpetrated by the Armenian armed forces. Those who committed this terrible crime against humanity have not been prosecuted by international courts and remained unpunished. Unlike World War II, when the majority of the Nazis faced the international court at the Nuremberg trial, ideologues and executors of the mass slaughter live freely in the modern Republic of Armenia.

We demand Justice for Khojaly!

This article was written in cooperation with Hope for the Future Association for Emigrant Jews of Azerbaijan and the Caucasus.

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