Khojaly Massacre at a glance: Armenia’s Genocide against Azerbaijanis

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
On 25 February 2021 at 03:13

On February 26 every year, Azerbaijanis from all over the world commemorate one of the most painful tragedies that happened during the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan - The Khojaly Genocide.

According to Azerbaijan’s Government, in the night of 26 February 1992 alone, 613 Azerbaijani civilians including 169 women and children were brutally murdered by the invading Armenian military forces.

Some of them reportedly were also frozen to death as they tried to flee Khojaly in the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

According to international right groups, 487 people including 76 children were wounded while 1275 people were taken hostages and 150 people went missing

The event was recorded as the largest massacre in the course of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

For the Azerbaijanis, the Armenians attack was not only a mass murder but rather a Genocide

It was an ethnical cleansing and its purpose was to systematically create fears and horror among the Azerbaijanis thereby to force the civilians flee from their home towns.

They have been murdered by Armenians while they were in the process of fleeing their homes through the promised safety corridor, which turned out into the bloodbath for them.

Moreover different photo and video evidences show that the bodies of the victims of the massacre have been butchered even after the death.

The responsibility of Armenia, its political and military leadership for the crimes committed in Khojaly is confirmed by numerous facts, including investigative records, testimonies of the eyewitnesses, evidences from international media sources, and reports of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.

As reported by the British scholar and writer, Thomas de Waal in his acclaimed book Black Garden on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, the ex Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, who was at the time one of the commanders of the ethnic Armenian forces, said: “ Before Khojaly, the Azerbaijanis thought that they were joking with us, they thought that the Armenians were people who could not raise their hand against the civilian population. We were able to break that [stereotype]. And that’s what happened.

The US 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. ”

On 8 May 2008 in order to raise international awareness of the Khojaly Genocide at the initiative of Vice-President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation Ms. Leyla Aliyeva’s "Justice for Khojaly" International Awareness Campaign was launched.

The campaign aims to raise international public awareness of the Khojaly Genocide, root causes and consequences of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The Khojaly Genocide is recognized and commemorated by parliamentary acts adopted in numerous countries.

So far, the legislative bodies of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Honduras, Jordan, Mexico, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Romania, Sudan, Djibouti, Guatemala, Scotland as well as many states of the United States of America have adopted relevant parliamentary resolutions.

Last week, US state, Minnesota has declared February 26 as "Azerbaijani Day" in recognition to Khojaly genocide.

"The majority of Azerbaijani Minnesotan community are descendants of survivors of the Khojaly genocide" reads part of the relevant declaration signed on February 12, 2021 by Minnesota Governor, Tim Walz.

It is also stated in the declaration that "the Azerbaijanis living in Minnesota, preserving their native language, rich cultural and spiritual values and traditions, contribute to the local culture by promoting them"

The signing of the declaration was taken as the success of Azerbaijanis living in Minnesota in promoting the truth about their country.

Another US state - Florida - has previously declared February 26, as the day of remembrance of the Khojaly genocide.

It should be noted that over 24 US states, have recognized and condemned the Khojaly genocide.

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

"Unfortunately, the perpetrators of the Khojaly Genocide are still left unpunished" said Dmitri Panin, Chargé d’ Affaires of the Embassy of Azerbaijan to Ethiopia.

After over 30 years of injustice, Azerbaijan has liberated its land from occupation and restored territorial integrity.

Nagorno-Karabakh which is recognized as Azerbaijan’s territory falls into Azerbaijani’s hands, the Azerbaijanis hope justice might be served against actors behind the genocide.

"However we hope that after Azerbaijani territories have been liberated from the Armenian occupation the justice will prevail in this case as well" Mr. Dmitri added.

International human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch, has named the tragedy as the largest massacre in the region.

As in Khojaly Armenia targeted civilians again in the recent war in 2020 killing over 100 Azerbaijani civilians and wounding over 400.

Perpetrators of both Khojaly and the latest war crimes are still at large. If the perpetrators of Khojaly Genocide would have been properly punished in 1992 we might not have seen many bloody tragedies happening.

According to Azerbaijan's Government, in the night of 26 February 1992 alone, 613 Azerbaijani civilians including 169 women and children were brutally murdered by the invading Armenian military forces.