The following article was contributed by the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Republic of Korea to The Korea Post for publication.—Ed.
26 February 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the genocide committed by the Armenian armed forces in Khojaly during Armenia’s aggression against Azerbaijan that had resulted in occupation of one-fifth of the Azerbaijani territories and ethnic cleansing of more than one million Azerbaijanis.
Before the genocide, 7,000 people lived in this town of the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. From October 1991, the town was entirely surrounded by the armed forces of Armenia. Over the night of the 25 to 26 February 1992, following massive artillery bombardment of Khojaly, the armed forces of Armenia, with the help of the infantry guards regiment No. 366 of the former USSR, implemented the seizure of Khojaly. Invaders destroyed Khojaly and with particular brutality implemented carnage over its peaceful population.
As a result of the Khojaly Genocide, 5379 inhabitants of the city were forcefully expelled, 613 people, including 63 children, 106 women and 70 elderly brutally murdered, 8 families were completely destroyed, 487 were injured, 1275 were captured and taken hostage (the fate of 150 of them, including 68 women and 26 children, remains unknown to date).
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”.
The Khojaly Genocide committed by Armenia constitutes a serious violation of international humanitarian and human rights law, in particular the 1949 Geneva Conventions, Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Convention on the Rights of the Child and Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
The investigation conducted by the Military Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Azerbaijan has fully proved involvement of a number of Armenian military servicemen and other persons in the perpetration of the Khojaly Genocide. The investigation made decisions on their accusation according to the articles of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan on genocide, torture, deportation of the population, violation of international humanitarian law during the armed conflict and other criminal offenses.
In its judgment of 22 April 2010, the European Court of Human Rights arrived at an important conclusion with respect to the crime committed in Khojaly, qualifying the behavior of those carrying out the incursion as “acts of particular gravity which may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity”.
The national legislative bodies of 16 States, as well as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation adopted resolutions and declarations on condemning in strongest terms the massacre of civilian population in Khojaly and recognizing the tragedy of Khojaly as an act of genocide and crime against humanity.
It is well known that some representatives of the previous leadership of Armenia together with many other high-ranking political and military officials of that State have personally participated in the Khojaly Genocide.
In his cynical admission of culpability, Armenia’s then-Defense Minister and ex-President, Serzh Sargsyan, was quoted by the British journalist Thomas de Waal, as saying, “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 Republic of Azerbaijan is confident that the consistent measures being taken at the national level, as well as the existing international legal framework, will serve to bring to justice those responsible for the grave offenses committed against the civilian population of Khojaly.
Meanwhile, the souls of the Khojaly Genocide victims have finally found peace. Under the leadership of the Victorious Supreme Commander-in-Chief, the brave Army of Azerbaijan put an end to the aggression of Armenia during the 44-day Patriotic War in 2020 and the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is restored.
Independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan will be strengthened, and those who question these supreme principles forming the basis of statehood, and those who promote the revanchist ideas, will be faced with the proper response, and all necessary steps will be taken to bring to justice those responsible for various crimes against the People and the State of Azerbaijan including the Khojaly Genocide.