The cruel tragedy against the innocent civilians of Azerbaijan is commemorated from people around the world. February 26th, 1992 marks as the worst morning in the history of Azerbaijan. Its 27th anniversary of the Khojaly genocide: a historical crime against humanity by the Armenian forces in Azerbaijan. It would not be considered as an understatement that it was one of the most brutal acts of terrorism of a state against another state. Hundreds of Azerbaijanis were mowed down in their home town of Khojaly (a strategically located Azerbaijani town on the Agdam-Shusha and Hankendi (Stepanakert)-Askeran roads in Nagorno-Karabakh region) by the Armenian forces during the Nagorno-Karabakh War. A little town which constitutes of about 7,000 populations was viciously turned into flames and mayhem. They forgave no one; men, women, children, elderly, they all were killed brutally. All that was done on that night of 25th-26thFebruary 1992 in Khojaly had a long history.
From very early times up to the 19thcentury, this region of Nagorno-Karabakh was part of different Azerbaijani states and was densely populated with Azerbaijanis. After the signing of Gulustan and Turkmanchy treaties in 1813 and 1828, according to which Southern Azerbaijan was given to Iran and Northern Azerbaijan to Russia, Armenians started to settle in bulks in the Azerbaijani lands from Turkey and Iran. Late 18thcentury and early 19thcentury was the time when Armenians appeared in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The process of resettlement of Armenians on the Azeri lands ended up with creation of Armenia on the historical territories of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan Democratic Republic with Nagorno-Karabakh as a territorial part of it came into being in 1918 but the independence lasted for only 1 year and 11 months. And after 71 long years, Azerbaijan finally regained its independence on October 18th, 1991.
However, with the support of USSR leadership, the Armenians raised the territorial claims to Azerbaijan asking for the Nagorno-Karabakh district. As a result of it, interethnic disputes erupted in Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia. Hence, approximately 300,000 Azerbaijanis were thrown out from Armenia. Moreover, Armenians by invading Nagorno-Karabakh along with 7 other districts of Azerbaijan made the situation more hostile. The Armenians started ethnic-cleansing in these areas and as a result of that around 20,000 Azeris lost their lives. And so, the Khojaly Massacre in an ill-fated small town of Nagorno-Karabakh district by the Armenians was the most terrible episode in the Azerbaijan’s history.
Armenian armed forces with the support of the 366thmotorized infantry regiment of former USSR, committed an unimaginable, heinous crime against Azeris. Because of that aggression about 613 civilians were killed, including 70 elderly persons, 106 women, and 83 small children. In addition, around 1,275 persons were taken prisoner and subjected to severe torture and humiliation and approximately 1000 civilians were left disabled. Of those who died, 56 persons were killed with extreme brutality: as they were scalped, beheaded, their eyes were gouged out, set on fire alive, and pregnant woman were stabbed in the abdomen. Human Rights Watch (HRW), described the event in Khojaly as “the largest massacre to date in the conflict.”
It is necessary to know the Armenians driving goals behind all that:
- One of the main goals of Armenian armed forces was the “liquidation of Khojaly” and as it was said by one of the commanders of this genocide Serzh Sargsian, who is presently the President of Armenia, “…our aim was to break a stereotype that Armenians cannot annihilate civil population”.
- The razing of Khojaly as it was an inhabited place. Armenians destroyed the historical cultural monuments and graveyards of Khojaly which reflected the history and traditions of Azerbaijan since the ancient times.
These are the obvious examples of Armenian barbarism and aggression against the world culture and humanity.
Still, the two and a half decades old brutal episode is looking for the justice; as no appropriate legal assessment was given to that event. The facts and evidence of Khojaly Massacre, an act of war crime which led to Srebrenica Massacre in 1995, were never seriously followed by the relevant international bodies. Many of those who are responsible for the massacre still remain inside Armenia and the occupied regions of Azerbaijan. Both the countries signed a ceasefire in 1994. The ongoing occupation of Azerbaijani territories despite 4 UN Security Council resolutions (822, 853, 874, and 884) badly hampers the efforts of international community to bring lasting peace to the region.
Azerbaijani nation is in a continuous struggle for justice and waiting for a peaceful settlement with the Armenians. Azerbaijan being a peace loving country does not advocate war; rather they want the international community to look into the issue as no crime should be remained unpunished. The Armenians should handover the Azeri territory to the Azeri people. The call of the innocent civilians who survived that barbarian act should be attended now.
Pakistan has always been criticizing such massacres on international forums and also recognizes Khojaly as genocide. On February 1st, 2012, Pakistan’s Senate Committee on Foreign Relations approved a resolution condemning the occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan and the genocide against Azerbaijani civilians committed by Armenian armed forces in the Azerbaijani town of Khojaly on 26 February 1992.
The committee has also reaffirmed the sovereignty of the Republic of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders, and demands the execution of four UN Security Council resolutions (822, 853, 874 and 884) on the unconditional withdrawal of Armenian forces from the occupied Azerbaijani territories. Pakistan is always with the Azerbaijan in its continuous struggle for justice. The international community needs to take vigorous steps to address the massacre in a rightful manner and ensure that such instances never occur in the future. They should provide Azerbaijan with monetary aid and ensure its border securities. Secondly, the issue of occupied territories by needs to be addressed under the settings of ICJ and rightful ownership of state lands within Azerbaijan should be given back either by forceful removal of Armenian forces or by legal declaration. Recently, Armenians has violated the ceasefire again and such developments only create loopholes for similar incidents to occur again. Armenians time and again violating the Human Rights law. This and many other cases in the world shows the weaker picture of the international bodies responsible for ensuring the peace and stability of our beloved globe. The UN needs to address the Khojaly issue timely to prevent further violation of human rights and protect Azerbaijan’s national security and integrity.