Khojaly was Azerbaijani town situated within administrative borders of Nagorno Karabakh region of the country, on the road Agdam – Shusha, Khankendi (Stepanakert) — Askeran near the only airport of the region. Its population constituted over 7 thousand people. Because of its communication advantage of harboring the civil airport just before the start of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict it had become shelter for refugees. Meskhetian Turks who fled the bloody inter-ethnic clashes in Central Asia as well as Azerbaijani refugees deported from Armenia came to Khojaly.
In February 1992, an unprecedented genocide was committed against the Azerbaijani population in Khojaly. This bloody tragedy, which became known as the Khojaly genocide, involved the extermination or capture of the thousands of Azerbaijanis; the town was razed to the ground. Over the night from 25 to 26 February 1992 the Armenian armed forces with the help of the infantry guards regiment No. 366 of the former USSR implemented the seizure of Khojaly – a small town situated in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan with the total area of 0.94 sq. km. and the population before the conflict of 23,757.
The inhabitants of Khojaly remained in the town before the tragic night (about 2500 people) and tried to leave their houses after the beginning of the assault in the hope to find the way to the nearest place populated by the Azerbaijanis. But these plans have failed. Invaders destroyed Khojaly and with particular brutality implemented carnage over its peaceful population.
Brutal annihilation of hundreds of blameless in- habitants of Khojaly was one of the most heinous crimes during the armed conflict in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The Armenian armed forces and foreign military units spared virtually none of those who had been unable to flee Khojaly and the surrounding area. As a result, 613 persons were killed, including 106 women, 63 children and 70 elderly people. 1,275 inhabitants were taken hostage, while the fate of 150 persons remains un- known to this day. In the course of the tragedy 487 inhabitants of Khojaly were severely maimed, including 76 children not yet of age. 8 families were completely wiped out, 25 children lost both parents, and 130 children one of their parents. Of those who perished, 56 persons were killed with especial cruelty: by burning alive, scalping, beheading, gouging out of eyes, and bayoneting of pregnant women in the abdomen.
Armenian officials deny their responsibility for the crimes committed during the conflict, including against the population of Khojaly, airily falsifying facts and sharing own interpretations of them, which deviate not only from reality but also from elementary logic. Nevertheless, even the subtlest propaganda will never manage to disprove the facts that speak of a situation diametrically opposite to that represented by the Armenian side.
Apart from the considerable information in possession of the law-enforcement agencies of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the responsibility of Armenia is documented also by numerous independent sources and eyewitnesses of this tragedy.
The Khojaly genocide is among the most tragic human tragedies of XX century like Khatyn, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Songmi. The tragedy happened at the end of the century was not only against the people of Azerbaijan, but it is one of the gravest crimes against humanity. Iinternational conventions adopted in the world, universal laws, repeatedly condemned tragedies like the tragedy of Khojaly genocide and stated its unacceptability. Azerbaijan has taken decisive steps in many international organizations, parliaments of the world for international political and legal assessment of this crime against humanity committed in Khojaly by Republic of Armenia.
“Justice for Khojaly” campaign
The world’s second largest international organization in terms of its membership, the Organization of Islamic Conference (Note: on 28th June of 2011 by the decision of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of member-countries the name of the organization has been changed to Islamic Cooperation Organization (ICO) has repeatedly condemned aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan Republic and expressed solidarity with the people of Azerbaijan in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. In 2004, the Organization of Islamic Conference established the Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation. Forum also applied to the International Youth Movement, in the autumn of 2007 at “Youth stands for Alliance of Civilizations” Initiative, which was founded within the framework of “Alliance of Civilizations” and offered via its partners, international organizations to raise international awareness about provocative actions of the regime that shed a blood of the peaceful Azerbaijanis. These ideas were in the proposal that the Nagorno-Garabagh conflict should be considered as a conflict that can lead to potentially worsening of the relations between civilizations. The proposal also stated that the policies of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, who came to power in Armenia, may lead to the serious violation of the stability in the South Caucasus region which plays important role in world’s energy security policy.
At 6th session of the Board of Directors of the ICO Youth Forum in Kuwait in April 2008, the Head of Heydar Aliyev Foundation’s Representation in Russia Leyla Aliyeva was elected as the first general Coordinator of the Forum on the issues of intercultural and dialogue among civilizations. It played significant role in drawing attention by the ICO Youth Forum on the occupation of Azerbaijani territories by Armenia. As a result of a two-day meeting of experts organized by of ICO and ISESCO in the same year in Istanbul on May 17 the ICO Youth Forum, the campaign initiated by Leyla Aliyeva, the “Justice for Khojaly – Liberation for Karabagh” supported by ICO experts and it was decided to mark 26th of February as the Day of tragedy the victims of humanitarian disasters in the countries of the ICO. In addition, it was agreed to submit to the meeting of the ICO ministers a proposal on inclusion of the Khojaly genocide in textbooks on Islamic countries.
At Kampala (Uganda), at ministerial conference of ICO member countries the initiative of General Coordinator for the Alliance of civilizations of the Youth Forum Leyla Aliyeva “Justice for Khojaly – Freedom to Garabagh” was approved. At the 35th session ICO foreign ministers conference the special resolution was adopted. Support of the resolution by the foreign ministers of 57 countries led to the establishment of political and legal framework in the world for the implementation of this campaign.
According to the resolution, Day of Memory of victims of humanitarian tragedies was established at the ICO member-states. The resolution states that besides the approval of list of tragedies, including Khojaly tragedy, the campaigns should be carried out for dissemination of right information on humanitarian disasters faced by the peoples of the Muslim countries in the twentieth century, about aggressions and ethnic cleansing.
Upon the initiative of Leyla Aliyeva, General Coordinator for Intercultural Dialogue of Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) member-body of the Islamic Conference Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation “Justice for Khojaly” international information campaign announced on May 8, 2008 has been started . The first event within the framework of the campaign was the exhibition of the photographs taken by children in connection with the Khojaly tragedy and photos of a foreign country’s youth in Istanbul, in “Taksim” metro station. In May 2009 at the 36the ministerial conference of Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the ICO held in Damascus, Syria the ministers fully supported the campaign carried out by the Youth Forum on the “Justice for Khojaly – Freedom to Garabagh” and it was included in the final resolution, and members-countries were called to participate actively in this campaign.
In 2011 the Parliamentary Unions of the Organization of Islamic Conference (PU OIC) adopted declaration in support of the international campaign initiated by Leyla Aliyeva “Justice for Khojaly”. At the 13-th session of the Council of ICO Council of Parliaments held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) capital Abu Dhabi, the Abu-Dhabi declaration adopted by member states calls for recognition the Khojaly tragedy as a crime committed against humanity. This was a result of the initiative of the Youth Forum of OIC “On Cooperation between YF of ICO and Parliamentary Unions of ICO”. It was noted in item 3 of the resolution that PU of ICO member- parliaments recognize massacre in town of Khojaly of the Republic of Azerbaijan committed by Armenian armed forces against the peaceful Azerbaijani population as a crime against humanity. The member states call to assess the crime at the national level.
There is a direct call to the parliament-members of organization and this, in turn, can lead to legal and political recognition of the tragedy at the national level.
On January 30, 2012, at the 7th session of the Parliamentary Union of Islamic Cooperation Organization member states (PU ICO) held in Indonesian Palembang city traditionally adopted a resolution “On aggression of the Republic of Armenia against the Republic of Azerbaijan” a special item was added on the initiative of the Youth Forum of ICO. The paragraph devoted to Khojaly tragedy, stated that the parliaments of the conference member-countries calledrecognition of Khojaly genocide that took place on February 26, 1992 as genocide committed by the armed forces of Armenia against the peaceful Azerbaijani population in accordance with the nature of the mass extermination, and demanded to bring to those responsible to justice.
The campaign makes use of a variety of communication tools and resources to reach out globally and deliver its message, particularly through the media, Internet and live events. Events organized within the framework of the campaign are designed to demonstrate strong opposition to massacres, ethnic cleansing and racial, ethnic or religious discrimination, express solidarity with the victims of the Khojaly Genocide and to underline the need for a fight against impunity for the crimes committed against Azerbaijani civilians in Khojaly.
To date, more than 120,000 people and 115 organisations have joined this campaign, which functions successfully in dozens of countries. Social networks, exhibitions, rallies, contests, conferences, seminars and similar activities are other effective tools promoting its goals.
At the beginning of the XIX century the tsarist Russia (after conclusion of the Gulustan treaty in 1813 and Turkmenchay treaty in 1828 between Iran and Russia on the division of the territory of Azerbaijan) began to implement its plan of the establishment of the Armenian state which was intended to serve as a buffer zone within the lands of Azerbaijan. Peter the I who was pondering over the outlines of his future empire 300 years ago, sent his messengers to the south: ‘We must try to wave and resettle them [Armenians] into our lands, so that they could be a shelter of Russia.’
For this purpose, in the first half of the XIX century about 300 thousands of Armenian residents of Iran and Turkey were resettled into Azerbaijan and located in the regions of Iravan (today’s Yerevan), Daghlig Garabagh (Mountainous Garabag or Daglig Garabag), Nakhchivan, Zengezur, Daralayaz, Ordubad, Vedibasar and other regions.
Inspite of resettlement of Armenians to the territories of Azerbaijan the number of Azerbaijani population lived here prevailed that of Armenians. For instance, in 1886 Armenians lived only in 81 of 326 villages located in the Zangezur gaza (a kind of territorial division) of the Ganja province. 66 percents of Iravan gaza population were Azerbaijani and only 34 percent were Armenian. To achieve the superiority of Armenians in those regions the policy of extermination was applied to the Azerbaijanis. For this purpose tsarist Russia armed Armenians in secret and formed military groups.
Mass expulsion of Azerbaijanis from the territories of present Armenia and Daghlig Garabagh, violence and barbarism toward the peaceful population became particularly evident in the beginning of the XX century especially in 1905-1907 with the help of and under the patronage of the Russian government. Hundreds of villages were burnt in the provinces of Zangezur, Iravan, Nakhichevan, Ordubad, Gazakh and Karabakh of Azerbaijan, all from child to an old were cruelly killed.
Events of 1918-1920, the March extermination
In March of 1918, Russian Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin appointed Stepan Shaumyan as a special commissar of the Caucasus and dispatched him to Baku. Screened by the fact that they wanted to come to power in Bali, the Bolsheviks created favorable condition for secret purpose of armed forces of Armenian dashnaks. Mass extermination of the Azerbaijanis began on March 31 in Baku. As to Stepan Shaumyan’s confession, 6000 armed soldiers of the Council of Baku and an armed 3-4 thousand-member group of ‘Dashnaksutun’ of party also participated in the extermination of peaceful Azerbaijanis.
During three days of the extermination, armed Armenians with the help of the Bolsheviks suddenly attacked districts where the Azerbaijanis lived and killed everyone. Kulner, a German witness of those terrible days described the Baku events in 1925 as following: ‘Armenians rushed into Moslem (Azerbaijani) districts and killed, cut everyone into pieces with swords, pricked with bayonet. After several days of the extermination, 87 corpses of Azerbaijanis were found in the hollow with their ears and noses cut off, their bellies torn, privy parts cut. Armenaians had no mercy either on children or on the old’.
About 2 million of the Azerbaijanis were murdered and forcefully dismissed from their lands during two exterminations held at the beginning of the XX century (1905-1907, 19018-1920).
On March extermination one found in a part of Baku 57 women corpses with their ears and noses cut and bellies torn. We may count another terrible facts: nailing of alive young women to the walls, burning of the city hospital with 2000 people escaped from Armenian occupation. To shoot down survived people Armenians placed machine-guns at definite places beforehand.
On the basis of memories of Ovanes Apresyan, an active Armenian officer taking active part in the xtermination of the Azerbaijanis in Iravan province, Sharur-Dereleyez, Surmeli, Gars and other regions, an American agronomist Leonard Ramsden Hartwill created his book ‘Such a man could be’. In his talk with the author of the book Ovanes Apresyan noted that Armenians achieved their aims with the help of the English and Russia and during March extermination in Baku they killed twenty five thousands of the Azerbaijanis.
Dashnaks conducted extermination of the Azerbaijanis not only in Baku, but in Shamakhi, Guba, Iravan, Zangazur, Karabakh, Nаkhchivan, Gars as well.
On March-April of 1918 eight thousands of peaceful population of Shamakhi were killed and many of cultural monuments including the Juma mosque, were burnt and destroyed.
28 villages of the gaza Javanshir and 17 villages of the gaza Jabrail were totally burnt and the population exterminated.
On April 19 of 1918 three thousands survivals of Azerbaijanis, commonly consisted of women, children and the old people were surrounded near Gumru and were killed.
Armed groups of Armenians burnt several villages of the gaza Nakhchivan, destroyed 115 Azerbaijani villages in the gaza Zangazur, 3257 men, 2276 women and 1296 children were murdered. Totally about this zone 10068 Azerbaijanis were killed or invalided, 50000 Azerbaijanis turned into refugees.
135 000 Azerbaijanis lived in 199 villages of Iravan province were murdered, the villages were destroyed. Later the armed groups of Armenia moved in Karabakh, and during 1918-1920 murdered people and destroyed 150 villages in the mountainous part of Karabakh. (the government of the ADR, based on the materials of Commission on Special Investigation)
In May 1920 more than 12 000 Azerbaijanis were murdered in Ganja by the armenians and the XI Red Army.
Deportation of Azerbaijanis from Armenia in 1948-1953
While the Soviet-Iranian relations were focused in Tehran conference in 1943, Armenian Diaspora asked V.Molotov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of USSR to deport to the USSR Armenians living in Iran. Molotov informs I.Stalin, the chairman of CC CP of the USSR about this matter which had later been approved. Basing on this fact G. Aroutyunov, the secretary of the Central Committee of the Armenia Communist Party strived for taking of the decision about forceful deportation of Azerbaijanis on the pretext of migration to Armenia of Armenians living abroad.
In December 23 of 1947 the Soviet of the Ministries of the USSR took the decision a ‘About deportation of collective-farmers and other Azerbaijanis from Armenia SSR to Kur-Araz lowland in Azerbaijan SSR’.
On the next deportation ruled by Stalin in 1948-1953 the matter focused by the Armenians was to vacate economically, socially and morally strong and strategic areas of Azerbaijan. The first stage in this process was the vacation Azerbaijanis first from the territories near around Iravan city (today’s Yerevan) and then from the center of the regions, surrounding villages and the settlements.
Part of the deported population liven on the mountainous part of Armenia, so to get used to the climate of the Kur-Araz lowland was very difficult for them. That was why many of 10 thousands of migrated to the Kur-Araz people died.
On the other hand, no Azerbaijani deported from Armenia was permitted to pass to the territory of Daghlig Garabagh. This territory was in planned form cleaned from the Azerbaijanis in the way of realization of the idea of ‘The Great Armenia’ and thus in 1949 under the name of the inner migration 132 families (549 individuals) were deported from Daghlig Garabagh to Khanlar region of Azerbaijan.
At the same time the names of Azerbaijan places of settlement were changed, the centers of education and culture were closed, the regions were joined. In 1947-1953 the names of 60 places of the settlement of Azerbaijanis was changed. But generally, hundreds of places of Turkish settlement were changed by Armenians during 1921-1988.
in the process of the deportation the Armenians used the trick: they kept small quantity of Azerbaijanis in the region and the cities. Those remained in minority were once and for all deported from the country in the next stage of the plan-the total vacation of Armenia of the Azerbaijanis.
Deportation of the Azerbaijanis from Armenia in 1988-1989
Since the January of 1988 the policy of ‘Armenia without Turkish’ had been realized in planned form. Under the guardianship of USSR the government of Armenia, the committees of ‘Karabakh’ and ‘Krunk’, the members of the church of Ichmiadzin participated in thousands of bloody actions in the process of the deportation of the Azerbaijanis.
185 places of the settlement in Armenia were vacated, more that 250 000 Azerbaijanis and 18 000 Kurds were forcefully deported from their houses and 217 Azerbaijanis were murdered by the Armenians in the result of ethnical clearance. 49 of them froze in the mountains when they tries to escape, 35 were killed under torture, 115 were burnt and 16 were shut, 10 could not bare the torture and died of infarct, 2 were murdered by the doctors in the hospitals, the rest were drown, hanged, killed under electricity, other heads were cut off.
Yagub Mahudov, Karim Shukurov Garabagh: – Real history, facts, documents, Baku-2005;