Every year on the 26th of February Azerbaijanis all over the world commemorate the Day of Khojaly genocide, committed by Armenian occupying forces against peaceful civilians of Khojaly town. This tragedy became most terrible and bloody crime against humanity not only in the history of modern Azerbaijan but the whole mankind.
Where is Khojaly?
Khojaly is a town situated in the Nagorno Karabach region of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Being the only airport of the region and thus, having a strategic importance, it was inhabited by over 7 thousand people. Now it is a dead town.
What did happen?
Late into the night of February 25, 1992 the town came under intensive fire from the surrounding Armenian occupation forces. During the night and into the early hours of the morning of the 26th the Armenian armed forces supported by the ex-Soviet 366th regiment completed the surrounding of the town already isolated due to ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijani population of its neighboring regions. The joint forces have occupied the town which has been reduced to rubbishes by heavy artillery shelling.
Under the extreme conditions, those that survived the siege moved into the darkness of night to be met at the middle of the route by ambush of Armenian forces. Several thousands of fleeing civilians were ambushed at several points and being shelled by bullet rain tried to find refuge in the near-by forests and mountainous terrain. However, advances from punitive teams of Armenian occupation forces were relentless. After eliminating handful of policemen accompanying the refugees’ column, the Armenian forces reached out unprotected civilians to slaughter women, children and elders, mutilating bodies and scalping heads of those killed as the notorious Karabakh war trophies.
In a few hours of night from 25th to 26th February 613 civilians were killed including 106 women, 83 children. 56 people were killed with outrageous brutality, 8 families were totally exterminated, 25 children lost both parents while 130 children lost at least one parent, and 1275 peace residents were taken hostages. This massacre was the most brutal punishment of civilians during the whole 3 years of the conflict’s military phase.
Who is responsible?
Operation was planned and undertaken by Armenian occupation forces in Nagorno Karabakh region claiming themselves as Nagorno Karabach republic. Members of ASALA – Armenian terrorist organization responsible for terrorist attacks in the USA, Europe and the Middle East were involved. Among the organizers was then-chief officer of the ex-Soviet 366th regiment, Seyran Oghanyan who is current Minister of Defense of Armenia. The current President of this country Serzh Sarkisian revealed his role in the genocide in his interview to British journalist in the following bravado: “Before Khojaly, the Azerbaijanis thought that they were joking with us, they thought that the Armenians were people who could not raise their hands against the civilian population. We were able to break that stereotype.” (Thomas de Waal, “Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan through peace and war” NYU Press, 2003, page 169-172). All of perpetrators of Khojaly Massacre are still at large and haven’t been accounted for this crime against humanity.
- 24 February 2008– Khojaly Memorial was erected in Dutch city of Hague.
- 25 February 2010 – the Massachusetts House of Representatives officially offered its sincerest acknowledgment of the 18th Commemoration of Khojaly Massacre”.
- 20 December 2011 and 31 January 2012 – accordingly the Mexican Parliament and then the Pakistani Senate assessed above-mentioned horrific crimes as an act of genocide.
- 26 January 2012 – Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a statement, which strongly condemns the Khojaly genocide and urges the other international organizations to give a legal assessment of this tragedy.
- 31 January 2012 – the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) adopted a declaration, calling on parliaments in 51 countries to recognize the massacre in Khojaly as genocidal massacre.
Major foreign media outlets covering the story in the following days described it as following:
The Sunday Times reported the atrocity with the headline, “Armenian Soldiers Massacre Hundreds of Fleeing Families” (March 1, 1992).
Newsweek magazine reported: “Many were killed at close range while trying to flee; some had their faces mutilated, others were scalped” (March 16, 1992).
The New York Times also described beheadings and acts of scalping (March 3, 1992).
Time magazine called the actions against Khojaly “grim and unconscionable,” reporting that many of those killed had been mutilated (March 16, 1992).
The Washington Times wrote that video footage “backed accounts of the slaughter of women and children” (March 3, 1992).
Le Mond reported: “Foreign journalists based in Agdam saw 3 persons scalped and with pulled out nails among the women and children killed in Khojaly. That is not an Azerbaijani propaganda, but reality”.
Justice for Khojaly Campaign
In order to bring the truth about the Khojaly genocide to the world community and to secure political and legal assessment to this bloody crime internationally Mrs. Leyla Aliyeva, General Coordinator of Islamic Conference Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation, initiated on 8 May 2008 the International Awareness Campaign under the motto of “Justice for Khojaly”. The campaign has been successfully launched in more than 25 countries of the world on 25-26 February, 2009 and more than 120 000 people and 115 organizations joined the campaign. Global, regional and local coordinators of the campaign are functioning in many countries. They contribute to the promotion of the campaign using social network; organize exhibition, rallies, demonstrations, and seminars; make presentations on Khojaly genocide.
Through creative and peaceful actions the Campaign will ensure that the victims’ voice is heard by governments, international organizations, media and decision-makers at all levels to bring change to the long standing denial by Armenia, to break the silence by the world community on Khojaly genocide and bring those responsible to justice. The Campaign is also aimed at contributing to reconciliation between Armenian and Azerbaijani peoples, building just and sustainable peace in the region.
The Campaign is aimed at raising international civil awareness through demonstration of creative photos and images of people who suffered in both the Karabakh conflict and Khojaly genocide. To do so, the Campaign will promote this message globally via media, internet and live events. These photos demonstrate human opposition to genocides and cleansing based on all forms of racial, ethnic or religious discrimination. In addition, they show the solidarity of the innocent victims and suffering children of the Khojaly genocide, and finally they call on removing the root cause of the conflict – ending the aggression by the Armenia in the Nagorno Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, as well as 7 surrounding districts.
The official site of the campaign is www.justiceforkhojaly.org. It contains a Petition to US President, European and Muslim Parliamentary Associations that calls upon the international community to recognize Khojaly as a genocide and extend their efforts in peaceful resolution of Nagorno Karabakh conflict on the basis of international law, as well as to take all necessary measures for bringing the perpetrators of the Khojaly genocide to justice. The petition is being signed by individuals and organizations in all parts of the world. Civil society organizations, social entrepreneurs, human rights activists, and all concerned individuals, can join and contribute to the Campaign.
Khojaly Tragedy in Greek press
- athenspress.gr – “Για την 20η επέτειο της τραγωδίας Khojaly” http://www.athenspress.gr/?p=39548
- vouli.net – “Επέτειος για την γενοκτονία στην πόλη Χοτζαλί στο Αζερμπαϊτζάν” http://vizantio-gr.blogspot.com/2012/02/blog-post_22.html#more
- agioritikovima.gr – “Επέτειος για την γενοκτονία στην πόλη Χοτζαλί στο Αζερμπαϊτζάν” http://agioritikovima.gr/2011-07-14-22-28-56/5246-epeteios-gia-tin-genoktonia-tin-poli-chotzali-to-azermpatzan
- Saturday-Sunday Νewspaper “Cosmos” – “Γενοκτονία σφαγή στο Χοτζαλί”. March 4, 2012