Khojaly through the eyes of witnesses: "I wanted to die just to stop tortures"

Khojaly through the eyes of witnesses: "I wanted to die just to stop tortures"

The Khojaly genocide, perpetrated by Armenian nationalists at the end of the 20th century, became one of the gravest crimes against humanity. The Khojaly residents became victims of nationalist illegal armed groups who fought against the Republic of Azerbaijan and hired, in particular, the second battalion of the former Soviet motorized rifle 366th regiment under the command of Seyran Ohanyan. External forces were also involved in unleashing and prolonging the Karabakh conflict. At the same time, there are many people in Armenia and among the Armenians of the Diaspora who condemn the genocide of Azerbaijanis in Khojaly. 

Unfortunately, this is not the only example in world history when people, under the influence of absurd nationalistic ideas, putting one nation above another / others, turn into nonhumans. Perhaps the dissemination of documentary evidence of illegal acts will help prevent new atrocities. The Vestnik Kavkaza invites you to familiarize yourself with the chapters from the book Khojaly through the Eyes of Eyewitnesses, which has become a valuable resource for studying the genocide and bringing the truth about it to the world community. Each of the surviving Khojaly residents has its own story.

That nightmarish night is the apogee of pain and suffering, inescapable sadness, the tragedy of children, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters, the angry cry of the incinerated father’s land, a wound gaping in our souls for years. From the stories of the surviving prisoners of Khojaly, blood runs cold.

Yashar Shahmaly oglu Alimamedov was born in Khojaly on November 5, 1956. After graduating from school, he entered the Ganja Construction College, where he studied in the 1976-1979-ies. In 1982-1987 received a correspondence education at the Technical University in Tyumen. During the occupation of Khojaly, Yashar Alimamedov worked as the chief engineer for the construction of the Agroprom production association. His father, Shakhmaly Alimamedov, was a teacher with 50 years of experience.

- After the Askeran events, we felt that Khojaly would become another target. Put up posts. The largest caliber weapons in our arsenal were machine guns. We were only helped by the detachment of the National hero Agil Guliyev, there was no more help. The city was defended by ordinary citizens. Three times I sent my family to Agjabadi and once to Yevlakh. After we were inseparable. We were already ashamed to send families to relatives. Khojaly only appropriated the status of a city, it was not believed that the invaders would decide to storm. On February 25, a roar of tanks and heavy artillery was heard. In the evening, at about 10 p.m., an assault began from the airport and a place called Alma Bugs. My brothers and I were in shifts at the post. At the time of the assault, I was at the 1st post, arranged on a railway track near the farm.

The city was subjected to massive shelling from artillery shells. The invaders set fire to the airport, people rushed in all directions. On foot, nationalist units were advancing on the city. From everywhere, bullets rained down on us. There was no other way, it was necessary to leave. I hurried home. We left the house well after midnight ...

Family scattered

Some people hurried to take refuge in the forest, the rest fled along the banks of the Gargar River. I transferred my father across the river. Brother was at the post. I had to wait for him. We stood for quite some time, but he never showed up. After some time, the son-in-law said that a group of people was coming to us. Father was waiting for my sister. We decided not to go in a crowd, but to divide into groups. On one side of the river I walked with my family and several people, on the other - my father with a group of people. We agreed to meet at the mouth of the river. When everyone gathered, his father was gone. He stayed to wait for my brother and sister. The weather was frosty, snowdrifts were knee-deep. We were about 60-70 people, we walked up the forest. Having traveled a fairly large distance, we suddenly stumbled upon the invaders. They began to shoot, killing and injuring several of us, the rest hid in the forest. My son Siraj and I were on opposite sides. Nearby was my classmate Khuraman (with two children) and her brother, Rovshan. We hid in the bushes. Soon the shooting ceased. I climbed out of hiding and set off in search of a family. When the shooting started, Siraj was next to my brother Faik. Traces were visible everywhere in the snow, but there were no people anywhere. I hailed mine, my voice echoed. Out of despair, I cried out loudly, and the invaders re-opened fire. We rolled down.

They suffered losses again - they were wounded and killed. Unable to stand, I looked up from our group, climbing up. By all means, I had to find my six-year-old son - dead or alive.

My wife found me, walking barefoot in the snow 4-5 kilometers away

The tracks above led right and left. I decided to go right. The snow was stained with blood. Suddenly I heard voices - three Khojaly people were talking. Together we managed to get out of the forest. We were walking towards the village, when suddenly a woman, noticing us, began to vote “Turks, Turks”. I had to leave. The invaders fired after us.

Falling into the snowdrifts, we walked about five kilometers at night and got lost. They stuffed their mouths with snow to suppress hunger and thirst. Suddenly there was a rustling sound behind. Turning around, I saw my wife, asked where Siraj was. She said that during the skirmish, his son was in Faik’s arms, fleeing from the bullets, fleeing scattered. My wife was looking for me, having walked many kilometers barefoot in the snow. I quickly cut my waistcoat, tearing her frozen legs into a patchwork.

We set off on a journey. Snowdrifts were knee-deep. Having exhausted themselves after a long journey, they decided to arrange a halt at the hillock. All night until the morning we hit our feet in the ground, so as not to freeze. The next morning we found footprints in the snow leading down. After walking a little, we saw two behind the hill. As soon as he saw us, one of them hid. Another began to show the way to Agdam. I immediately realized that these were invaders. But still, yielding to the assurances of Kamil, who believed that it was ours, he went in the direction indicated by them.

Soon we were surrounded. Hiding in the forest failed. Launching the landing in white robes, the invaders captured us. Blindfolded, we were taken on a country road. One Armenian, crying, brought us food, but she was so hit that the woman fell face down. The bread brought by her was crushed.

We lost consciousness from the beatings

We were brought into the stall. Among the captives were my father, father-in-law, brothers Faik and Namik, son of Siraj. They searched us, then monstrous tortures began. It was a real nightmare. Before our eyes, people were killed, scalped and burned. Blindfold was unbearable to watch. Then they gathered half-dead women with frostbitten legs into the car, apparently hoping to exchange them. Among them was my wife. They also wanted to send Siraj with the women, but the boy screamed heart-rendingly “dad, dad!” And they left him with me.

In captivity, we were brutally beaten with butts, clubs, glands. We lost consciousness from the beatings. Each time my son threw himself at me in tears, begging the executioners not to beat me. In captivity, they broke my nose, fingers, burnt my hand. Our legs were frostbitten. Having placed an automatic machine, the tormentors forced us to stand for four hours on one leg. Poking me in the ground, they condemned: you wanted this land, for now, eat it.

My brother Namik spoke Russian, so the secretary of the Askeran region Sasha Fomin took him as a driver. The Armenians knew him well. Arriving at the farm, they immediately took Namik. Until now, nothing is known about him. Before our eyes, the nationalists killed two twin brothers of the Meskhetian Turks. 

We were held captive for two days. The Armenians wanted to take Siraj from me, but with all my strength I pressed the baby to me. Somehow, completely exhausted from severe beatings, he released his son from his hands. Looking at Siraj, one of my offenders said in Armenian: what a good boy, he should be sent to Yerevan. The child was dragged out in tears. I rushed after him, but a strong blow knocked me down. From helplessness I began to sob. Then a man named Samvel came in. He lived in Askeran, doing car repairs. I always gave him to repair his car. Seeing me, he came closer. He promised to help get out of here and return my son. Looking around me, Samvel burst into tears and went out. After a while, he brought Siraj in his arms. The son was torn from crying. Clutching it to my chest, I sobbed like a baby. After a couple of hours, Samvel came again, ordering him to pack up. He intended to exchange us. I objected that my brothers and other relatives were here, but he was adamant. Samvel categorically stated that only me and Siraj could take out. We were put in an UAZ, jam-packed with captive women and children.

They wanted to torture me in front of my son

Samvel drove us in the Askeran direction. We were stopped at the post. Around were Russian soldiers. Everyone vied with each other that they would kill us here. My employee, named Garik, grinned maliciously, saying: “Bah, Yashar, what people! And you said, our Karabakh, see now whose is it ?! Your house is now mine. Everything here is ours. ” We were pushed into UAZ again and taken along Khojaly. The road was littered with corpses, blood flowed in a river. The occupiers looted. The prisoners were driven into the premises of a kindergarten in Arminevan, in Askeran. The invaders alternately came in, insulted us, and beat us. Then we were taken to the bullpen. A man named Karo, who worked as the head of the fire department in Askeran, recognized me. He said that he would certainly get even with me because I supposedly once threw a stone at him, cutting his head. I was dragged into a room. Everything here was in blood. I immediately realized that this was a torture room. Karo was bursting with the urge to kill me. Siraj gripped me in fear. Karo hit him so that the poor child flew away a couple of meters, losing consciousness. He put the barrel of a gun to my head. At that moment I wanted to die. Most of all I was afraid that my son would be killed before my eyes, I certainly would not have endured it.

The man standing near Caro hit me from behind in the neck. I crashed to the floor. He grabbed my hair and began struggling to clatter my shoulder blades. Then their commander Vitaly Balasanyan came in, making me flat on the floor. We worked with him in a restaurant, grew up together (they say that he rose to the rank of general in Armenia). He told Caro to stop torture, dragged me and transferred me to another room where Siraj was.

Suddenly, shots were heard. It turns out that Karo, angry that he could not complete what he had begun, decided to throw his anger at my brother Faik. After torture, he shot him in the neck and heart. Faik was only 23 years old. He was a student.

The next morning, Vitaly said that they were taking me to exchange. There were about twenty of us. They led us through the ranks of soldiers. Who kicked, who beat us with sticks and butts, pricked with bayonets, knives. I just did that put forward his hands, blocking his son. Limbs were taken away from the blows. Somehow we were loaded into a car, taken to Agdam and handed over to ours. March 2, we were saved from captivity.

Faik was buried in Agdam. His grave remained in the lands occupied by Armenians. Namik went missing. For some time we lived in Agdam, then we moved to Yevlakh. Now they have found refuge in the village of Agjakend, Geranboy district. The Khojaly tragedy claimed the lives of my brothers, two cousins, aunt and her daughter. The legs were amputated by the test. As soon as it gets colder, my legs are taken away, recalling the horrors of that unfortunate night. Mom cried out her eyes over her sons - Namik and Faik, the unfortunate woman went blind and died. Sorry, I can’t talk ...

The narrative resurrected in memory of our interlocutor the scenes of grief experienced by him. Retelling the events of those days, tears came to his eyes. The cherished dream of Yashar Alimamedov is to visit the grave of his brother in Agdam at least a day before his death, to see Khojaly for the last time, scoop up a handful of his native land and kiss it.

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