Cultural capital of Azerbaijan: 26 years of occupation
May 8th marks a tragic date in the history of Azerbaijan - the 26th anniversary of the occupation of Shusha, the cradle of Azerbaijani culture. The ancient cultural and historical center of Azerbaijan was captured by Armenian armed forces and almost totally destroyed. As a result of the occupation, Shusha city and 30 villages in Shusha district were destroyed, 195 civilians were killed, 165 people were wounded, 58 people went missing and more than 24,000 people were exposed to ethnic cleansing. During the occupation vandals looted the museums, stealing thousands of exhibits, destroyed hundreds of historical and cultural monuments, desecrated shrines and mosques, ruined a large number of rare manuscripts, destroyed education and health care institutions. It is believed that the seizure of Shushi completed ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh, after which there were no Azerbaijani left by that time.
A US State Department reference about the history of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which was distributed on March 30, 2001, runs: "... In May 1992, the Armenian and Karabakh forces captured Shusha (the historical capital of the region inhabited by Azerbaijanis) and Lachin, thereby ensuring the geographical link of the Nagorno Karabakh with Armenia". The capture of the city of Shusha was the result of a carefully planned script developed by the Armenian nationalist organizations, which were operating in the French city of Lyon and in the Iranian capital Tehran. This version is confirmed by the Armenian writer Zoriy Balayan in an interview with the newspaper Le Progress on April 14, 1994: "...The first plan regarding Shushi was developed on May 2 in Tehran. And on May 3 we already knew that Shusha will be ours in the very near future". In the Iranian city of Isfahan, in the meeting hall of the Armenian community, director Ahmed Bagir Yadigari showed his documentary about the capture of Shusha and the fate of 114 Azerbaijani captives. All of them were brutally murdered.
Then many people were shocked by the massacre by the Armenian militants on defenseless people. The armed bandits, possessed by national hatred, shot not only at people, they also shot at souls once united by harmony of music, art, architecture of the fertile ground of Karabakh, adorned with wooded mountains, mountain rivers and clean springs.
Historical and architectural monuments, caravanserais, palaces, mosques, mausoleums, graveyards, cemeteries, tombstones were destroyed in Karabakh. As a result of the ethnic cleansing committed by Armenian nationalists and acts of vandalism, historical and architectural monuments were razed to the ground, and cemeteries were destroyed.
In Shusha alone, the historical and architectural reserve of the XVIII-XIX centuries, the Shusha Historical Museum, the house museum of Uzeyir Hajibeyov, the house-museum of Bulbul, the Shusha branch of the State Museum of the Azerbaijani Carpet, the Karabakh State Historical Museum, the Karabakh Literature Museum, the house-museum of Mir Mohsun Nəvvab and the State Art Gallery are still destroyed or abandoned.
With the occupation of Shusha, the aggressive war went beyond the administrative borders of what was then the Karabakh autonomy. At the same time, the occupation policy isolated Armenia from participating in the implementation of major economic projects in the region. The once flourishing Azerbaijani land, where people of different nationalities were living in peace and harmony, is fading now. Broken roads, destroyed cities and villages, lack of infrastructure indicate that Nagorno Karabakh, blockaded by the Armenian separatists, isdeprived of any prospects, while maintaining the status quo.
Baku once again urged the international community to exert political and diplomatic pressure on Armenia to force it to withdraw its armed forces from Azerbaijan’s occupied territories, and took a constructive position in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said that occupation of Shusha is an integral part of the policy of Armenian aggression and occupation against Azerbaijan. As a result of this policy of occupation, Armenia occupied the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven adjacent districts by using force. More than a million Azerbaijanis were exposed to ethnic cleansing in the occupied territories. During the war, Armenia committed heinous crimes against humanity.