By Dirisu Yakubu
The event of February 26, 1992 aptly dubbed “the Khojaly tragedy,” is a sheer reminder of man’s infinite ability to wreck havoc on fellow man. That fateful day, hundreds of Azerbaijani citizens including women, children and the elderly were brutally murdered by Armenian forces in the town of Khojaly.
It was an act of genocide; an act of terrorism steeped in ethnic cleansing.
The “Khojaly genocide” was action of inconceivable cruelty during which inhuman punitive methods were deployed to cut down innocent lives. Armenians chauvinists and their supportive forces violated the rights of Azerbaijani people, created the obstacles to get the education in native language and exerted a strong pressure upon them, historical names of Azerbaijani villages altered to boot.
History of human evolution and civilization has been swinging between the levers of evilness and search of genuine equality, unlimited tragedies and tranquilities, barbarism and vivid reflection of best human qualities, genocides and generosities, discriminations and diversities.
To mark the 29th anniversary of that piece of historical tragedy, the “Cooperative Perspectives between Azerbaijani & Pakistani Youth Diaspora to the international recognition of Khojaly” was birthed to move forward from grief to greater socio-economic development, regional connectivity and above all qualitative life “because human spirits are die-hard to conquer.”
Before the 1992 massacre, Azerbaijani population was repeatedly the subject of human rights infractions and degrading treatment.
The most horrible one of these tragedies against the Azerbaijanis is the genocide committed on March 31, 1918, and it differs for its severe atrocities. Since March of 1918, thousands of the Azerbaijani civilians have been killed on the ground on grounds of gross insensitivity.
In the Khojaly tragedy, merciless and cruel methods were deployed against civilians. It has since be compared to the genocides in Khatin, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Songmi.
Khojaly reflected the history and traditions of Azerbaijan since the ancient times. Its culture is classified as Khojaly-Gadabay in the Azerbaijani folklore. Cromlechs, dolmens, Cyclops, tumulus’s of Khojaly, as well as different housing wares are the patterns of material culture that reflect the dynamics of social development. The destruction of all these material culture monuments and Khojaly graveyard, one of the most ancient cemeteries in history after the Armenian occupation, are obvious examples of Armenian barbarism and aggression against the world culture.
Armenian military forces committed genocides in the town of Khojaly with the population of seven thousand people on February 26, 1992.
According to Mehmood Hassan Khan, geo-political analyst and member, Board of experts of the Center for Global Strategic Studies, “there were three thousand people in the town at the time of Armenian military forces’ attack. 613 people were killed, 1,000 peaceful people of different age became invalid during Khojaly genocide. 106 women, 63 children, 70 old men were killed. 8 families were completely annihilated, 130 children lost one of their parents, while 25 both of them. 1, 275 peaceful residents were taken hostages and the fate of 150 of them is still unknown.”
The people of Azerbaijan were deported from their historical lands and became refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) because of Armenian illegal occupation. Azerbaijanis were also forced from their historical lands during the Soviet period.
The Nagorno-Karabakh events, which started in 1988 along with continuous efforts to implement the Armenian desire of building a state from sea to sea, led to the destruction of towns and villages, murder of thousands of innocent people, as well as the exile of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis from their native lands.
Armenian armed forces destroyed more than 200 Azerbaijani villages in Shusha, Zangazur and Jabrayil region, Irevan and Ganja provinces, expelling tens of thousands of Azerbaijanis from their homes, in the process.
During genocides, humanity “bleeds” and “beasts” were everywhere in different cities of Azerbaijan but it could not strike-down the true spirits of interfaith harmony, patriotism, national pride and communal unity and people having diversity of faith, belief and origin stood fast to fight against all odds. Cities were sieged and darkness was everywhere. Men were arrested. Media was blocked and the people were deprived of the right to access information. There was complete chaos.
Azerbaijanis were determined to protect their territorial integrity and did not retreat as they put up a resistance worthy of a people desirous of genuine freedom and dignity.
Genocides against Azerbaijanis also uphold “grief” which has enduring human befitting propositions. It united the people of Azerbaijan despite ethnic diversity and strengthened their resolve to achieve that independence.
Genocides against Azerbaijan achieved nothing but widespread condemnation. Rather it fueled concepts of self-defense, self-reliance, economic sustainability, protection of national pride, safety of heritage and unbending passions for territorial sovereignty.
29 years after, Azerbaijanis remember their heroes with fondness and pray for the repose of their beautiful souls.
In a chat with Saturday Vanguard, Billura Benard-Bayramova, founder and chairman, Friends of Azerbaijan Organization in Nigeria said the genocide will never be forgotten.
“29 years have passed since a massacre committed by Armenian armed forces against civilian Azerbaijanis in Khojaly city. Armenian armed forces committed one of the bloodiest tragedies of human history in one night in Khojaly, killed hundreds of innocent people, residents including the elderly, women, children, and babies.
“We will never forget Khojaly genocide! We demand justice for innocent victims of Khojaly genocide! Justice is an important component of reconciliation. Perpetrators of Khojaly genocide are glorified as heroes in Armenia based on extreme ideologies of racism, discrimination, ethnic hate,” she added.