The following are excerpts from an article contributed by the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Seoul for publication.—Ed.
The Khojaly genocide is the gravest crime of genocide committed against peaceful Azerbaijani people in the course of Armenia’s aggressive war against Azerbaijan. The town of Khojaly is located in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. The strategic importance of Khojaly is related with its location at the crossroads of the main highways of the region, as well as, the only airport in the Nagorno-Karabakh region is also located here. In the second half of February 1992, Khojaly was under total siege by Armenian military units and any attempts by local civilians to break the siege were prevented.
On the night of 25-26 February 1992, in violation of all international legal norms, Armenian armed forces attacked the civilian population of the sieged town of Khojaly with heavy military equipment, killing them with unprecedented brutality and razing the town to the ground. As a result of crime against not only the people of Azerbaijan, but against humanity, 613 civilians, including 63 children, 106 women and 70 elders were brutally murdered on grounds of national identity.
Khojaly villagers were beheaded, had their eyes gouged out, skinned, and burned alive. Those trying to flee were killed with a particular brutality by Armenian troops who ambushed them on roads and forests.
The Khojaly genocide was organized by the political and state leadership of the Republic of Armenia and was carried out by Armenian armed forces, Armenian terrorist groups in Nagorno-Karabakh and the former USSR army deployed in Khankandi.
Unlike the Nazis who tried to hide their crimes, the perpetuators of the Khojaly genocide justified and boasted of their barbarous criminal acts against civilian Azerbaijanis. Former president of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan’s words who was directly involved in the massacre 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.”
Those days, foreign news outlets such as “Sunday Times”, “Financial Times”, “Times”, “Izvestiya”, “Le Monde”, “Crual L'Eveneman” were publishing articles on horrorful scenes witnessed in Khojaly. One of them, “Times” newspaper was writing on March 4, 1992: … “Many people were mutilated, and it was remained only the head of one little girl”.
Since 1994, the Parliament of the Republic of Azerbaijan has declared February 26 as the Day of the Khojaly Genocide. Every year at 5 p.m. on February 26 people of Azerbaijan honors memory of Khojaly victims in a minute of silence.
The nature and gravity of the crimes committed in the town of Khojaly fully suits the definition of the word genocide as indicated in the Convention “On Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide” adopted on December 9, 1948 under Resolution 260 (III) of the UN General Assembly. The premeditated massacre on this territory was committed with intent to annihilate residents solely on grounds that they were Azerbaijanis.
Khojaly does not differ from other horrifying tragedies of Katyn, Lidice, Oradour-sur-Glane, Holocaust, Songmy, Rwanda and Srebrenica, which remain in history as deep and shameful scars.
Meanwhile, “Justice for Khojaly” International Awareness Campaign carried out in many countries and cities plays an important role in the recognition of the Khojaly tragedy as an act of genocide in the world.
In addition to several international organizations, the Parliaments of Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Pakistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, the Czech Republic, Sudan, Jordan, Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, Slovenia, Djibouti and Paraguay already recognized the massacre in Khojaly according to the international legal norms.
Moreover, legislative bodies of 22 States of the USA, including Massachusetts, Texas, New-Jersey, Maine, New Mexico, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Florida, Mississippi, West Virginia, Indiana, Utah, Nebraska, Hawaii, Montana, Arizona, Idaho and Nevada have adopted relevant Resolutions.
On the eve of the 28th anniversary of the Khojaly Genocide we once again urge all the states and international organizations to recognize this act of genocide in the name of justice, to consolidate and increase efforts for punishment of its perpetrators.