Khojaly through eyes of witnesses: "Invaders wipe Khojaly out to conceal all traces of their crimes"
The Khojaly genocide, committed by Armenian nationalists at the end of the 20th century, is considered one of the gravest crimes against humanity. The Khojaly residents were the victims of nationalist illegal armed groups who fought against the Republic of Azerbaijan, which recruited the second battalion of the former Soviet 366th Guards Motor Rifle Regiment led by Seyran Ohanyan. External forces were also involved in unleashing and prolonging the Karabakh conflict.
Unfortunately, it's not the only example in world history when people, being affected by absurd nationalistic ideas, putting one nation above all others, become monsters. Perhaps the dissemination of documentary evidence will help prevent new atrocities. Vestnik Kavkaza presents the chapters from the 'Through Their Eyes: Witnesses to Khojaly Massacre' book, which has become a valuable resource for studying the genocide and bringing the truth about it to the world community. Each of the Khojaly survivors has their own story.
We know him from the heartbreaking pictorial review of the Khojaly genocide. When he remembers 26 days of captivity horrors, tortures, it's like feeling all that pain and suffering all over again. Our interlocutor is commander of the Khojaly self-defense forces checkpoint Huseynaga Guliyev, who was captured that terrible night with his mother, wife and two sons.
Huseynaga’s testimony, who was a witness and victim of an inhuman crime, once again testifies that not a single person, not a single nation in the world history has survived the atrocities committed against the Azerbaijani people, the sorrowful ordeal faced by the elderly, children, women and young ones. Let the whole world hear about those barbarous acts one more time!
February 26, 26th winter, 26 days in captivity - mourning marks of his fate
- I was born in Khojaly in 1966. The number "26" has become crucial for me. On February 26, Khojaly, the city where I was born and raised, was wiped out. I was the only son. Got married. I had two half-year-old sons - twins. At that time, the only son in the family was not taken to the war, but I volunteered to defend my native land, I couldn't sit there and do nothing.
Soon, Huseynaga Guliyev distinguished himself in the ranks of the Khojaly self-defense battalion led by Tofig Huseynov, was appointed commander of the chekpoint. I spent all the days on duty. The family lived with the mother. Then the order was given not to take the families out of Khojaly to avoid panic among the population, so that not a single fighter left his position. On February 25, I was on duty. Suddenly we heard gunfire. The assault on Khojaly began. After two or three hours we came under a hail of bullets, we could not even lean out of the trench. These were mostly tracer bullets.
About 200 houses were built for Meskhetian Turks in the upper part of Khojaly, who had sought refuge in Azerbaijan after the Ferghana events. After an hour of shelling, they were all damaged. The houses were in flames. People fled. How can rifles withstand tanks and armored personnel carriers?! We had to retreat. I did not find anyone at home, they said that the family left with other people. I found my mother and my wife with children near the village. I was armed, I had bullets and grenades. Suddenly we heard the news that the occupiers had opened a corridor to Agdam for the Khojaly people. I felt it was a trap. Being a military man, I immediately saw through the enemy's plan. If the cutthroats are so kind-hearted, why haven’t they said about the possibility of withdrawing families from Khojaly?! They wanted to trap us. Therefore, we moved towards the forest.
That day Khojaly seemed to be cursed. Snow all over. Having reached the Gargar River, I had crossed it with the kids in my arms. People were divided into two groups, one of which went towards the Armenian village. I asked them not to go there, but to little effect. I knew that this was another trick. The invaders wanted to kill everyone so that there were no witnesses to the Khojaly genocide. An order was given to destroy ...
I rushed off a cliff to avoid captivity
There was an exchange of fire. Putting down the children, I rushed forward. Half of our people died, several rushed off a cliff. The invaders were waiting for us everywhere. Wherever we go, we met them. Ammunition was running out. As we moved forward, the nationalists surrounded the civilian population. They told us drop the weapon. I was not going to give up, I knew that they would kill me anyway. Moreover, for me, as a serviceman, surrendering was equivalent to betraying the motherland.
I didn’t drop the weapon, of course. There was a small rock near. Three invaders stood in front of us. I told the elderly Uncle Muhammad not to stick his head out, or they will kill him, but he did not listen. As soon as he sicked his head out, he fell. The corpse rolled down the mountain. The invaders thought he was alone there. I stepped out of the cliff, killed one of them, the others hid. Without looking down, I rushed off a cliff that seemed low, but I managed to survive solely due to the snowdrifts. The rock turned out to be quite high. After standing for a while, I headed toward the forest.
Suddenly something exploded nearby, and I lost consciousness. When I woke up, I did not find any traces of blood, only my feet were hurting. It turns out that they were struck by fragments. Once I got up, I was about to go, but the invaders, having noticed me, opened fire ...
Beating me to death, they threw me into the fire
While awakened, I realized that I was captured, there were invaders around. They dragged me somewhere, saying that they had captured a military man. Earlier I was asked if I was a soldier, but I denied everything, having lied that I'm a worker. They did not believe me. 5-6 people were brutally beating me until I lost consciousness. I recovered only in the morning. I was on a pig farm. My family and father-in-law were close by. I was no longer wearing a military jacket. It turned out my father-in-law threw it off.
Beating me to death and deciding that I was dead, they threw me into a fire. My father-in-law pulled me out of the fire. My limbs were burned. The next morning they again took me away for questioning: "Is Elman Mammadov the head of the Khojaly executive branch?", "Alif Hajiyev was with you too?" I replied that I don't know them, did not see them, kept repeating that I'm a worker, therefore I had put on a military uniform. I did not know that the invaders were searching these people. They were not among the prisoners, nor among the dead. After torture, they threw me onto the ice, burned my body.
Every day they tortured me for many hours. I did not know whether it was morning or evening, they tortured me for days. I was beaten with stones and armature, after which I could not recover for a long time. In the courtyard, the invaders arranged an ice rink for torture. After staining my body with blood, they threw me on the ice. The pain of the blows is nothing compared to the hellish suffering from cauterizing bleeding wounds with ice. It was like my body being cut into pieces. My body burned mercilessly. The Nazis taunted me - they stood near and laughed. They selected young, more or less healthy people, and chopped off their heads on the graves of fathers and brothers. They took my 17-year-old brother-in-law away, I don't know what happened to him. They wanted to tear me to pieces also, but I was not needed, because I was already half dead. My jaw, nose, ribs, and toes were broken, and I was bruised from head to foot.
Young Azerbaijani captives were "sacrificed" every day
Once my father-in-law said that they were exchanging prisoners of war, offering to report about me, but I refused. Of course, this was another trick. The invaders deliberately started such a rumor to find out if there were military personnel among the prisoners, in order to find out military secrets and kill them. After my words, the father-in-law burst into tears and did not speak about it anymore. Every day, young Azerbaijani captives were "sacrificed". Of the young, there were only Faik and me. Once the invaders dragged Faik and riddled his body with 32 bullets.
Someone named Edik came in and squinted at me. Approaching closer, he put the machine gun in my mouth, so deep that I swallowed my tongue, my teeth fell apart one after another. Blood was gushing out of my body. He ordered me to be pulled into the yard, said he would shoot me. When we came there, Faik was already at death. There were 5-6 armed fascists nearby.
I asked permission to lean him against the wall so that he could give his soul to God. I was allowed. An invader with a rifle approached me. I grabbed a rifle from his hands, but was hit over the head and lost consciousness.
After that, I was severely beaten again, but I did not feel anything. Edik ordered to cut off my head. Two dragged me, but threw me in the snow deciding that I was dead. Then someone moved my body to the place where the hostages were held.
If my mom hadn't come to the morgue, I would die there
On the 26th day of my captivity, someone asked about me. I had no strength to answer. After some time, these people came again. They asked for Huseynag, they wanted to exchange him. I was not able to raise my hand. Those standing nearby pointed at me. They waved a hand, apparently thinking that I don't have much time left. The main thing for him is to make it to the exchange, apparently, they thought. So they exchanged me.
In Agdam, I could not walk even 20 meters, collapsing to the ground. People thought that I was dead and took me to the Agdam morgue. They covered me with a sheet. In the morgue, my mother and uncle found me. Uncle lifted the sheet and, recognizing me, threw it again, bursting into tears. Suddenly I asw the light, but I was so exhausted that I could not say a word. Then my mom cried out: "My son is alive, he is alive, he is breathing!" Uncle raised a hand to my nose and realized that I was breathing. I was taken to Baku. In the hospital they said that I don't have long to live. The sun was hot so that my head and body were swollen, I saw nothing.
But the God gave me a second life. With God's mercy, my wife and children returned, my family was safely exchanged. What I happened to experience, I have not seen in any, even the most cruel film. Every day I overcome pain. Even after so many years, I am still undergoing treatment. I know for sure - the invaders wiped Khojaly out to conceal all the traces of their crimes and exterminate all the eyewitnesses of the genocide committed by them. But they failed to break the glorious sons of Azerbaijan. The evil deed shall not be unpunished. I believe that my dream will come true thanks to the principled policy of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, President Ilham Aliyev.