24 years have passed since the Khojaly massacre

24 years have passed since the Khojaly massacre

Today is the 24th anniversary of the Khojaly massacre. On February 26th 1992, nationalist illegal armed groups committed the massacre in the town of Khojaly with a population of 7000. As a result, 613 people were killed, 1000 civilians of different age became disabled as a result of bullet wounds. 106 women, 63 children and 70 elderly men were killed. Eight families were completely annihilated, 130 children lost one parent, while 25 both lost both parents. 1275 inhabitants were taken hostage, while the fate of 150 of them is still unknown.

All these acts were committed by nationalist illegal armed groups with special mercilessness and inconceivable barbarism. The second battalion of the 366th regiment under the command of Major Seyran Ohanian, the third battalion under the command of Yevgeniy Nabokhin, the staff chief of the 1st battalion Chitchyan Valeriy and more than 50 officers and ensigns took part in the attack, according to information taken from the investigation materials concerning the Khojaly occupation.

Some of the residents.who attempted to flee were killed in pre-organized ambushes. 200 corpses were brought from Khojaly to Agdam within four days of the massacre, instances of humiliation were discovered on dozens of bodies. Forensic examination in Aghdam was performed on 181 corpses, including 13 children. The outcome of the examination revealed that 151 people were killed as a result of bullet wounds, 20 people died from missile wounds, 10 more were killed with blunt instruments. Instances of scalping people alive were also discovered.

The Khojaly massacre has become of the most terrible pages in Azerbaijan's history.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and his spouse Mehriban Aliyeva attended the ceremony held in connection with the 24th anniversary of the Khojaly tragedy.President Aliyev placed a wreath at the memorial.

Prime Minister Artur Rasizade, the parliamentary speaker Ogtay Asadov, and Azerbaijan’s first lady, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva laid flowers at the memorial.

The commemorative ceremony was attended by state and government officials, MPs, ministers, heads of committees and companies, leaders of religious confessions, as well as Khojaly citizens.

Russian political analyst Sergei Markov in an interview with a correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza emphasized the exclusivity of the Khojaly massacre. "There were a lot of taboos on the use of violence in society. The Khojaly tragedy has become a vivid demonstration of willingness to go through a series of these taboos. Let me remind you that a corridor was created to allow Khojaly civilians to escape, but then shooting began and several hundred civilians were killed, which is proof of the willingness of one of the sides to commit ethnic cleansing," he said.

Thus the war turned into the destruction of the civilian population by armed men. "This is probably the most important thing that happened in Khojaly – the transition of military operations into the format of ethnic cleansing. Khojaly has become a symbol of the grave humanitarian tragedy for the Azerbaijani people. It brings the Azerbaijani people together and shows that it is impossible to freeze the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, since the perpetrators of the Khojaly massacre haven't been punished," Sergey Markov said.

"The choice of the Azerbaijani people is clear: to remember the Khojaly tragedy as one of the greatest tragedies in contemporary history. Of course, history shouldn't contain only memories about tragedies, therefore the memory of such victories as the First European Games, Baku's beauty and the economic revival of Azerbaijan are no less important for the people. As I understand, the Azerbaijani people remember the Khojaly tragedy in order to prevent it from happening again," he concluded.

The political analyst also added that the Khojaly tragedy is not known enough in the world. "Those who would like to see the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remaining in the current situation are trying to stop coverage of the tragedy in the media," Sergey Markov said.

Earlier, a member of the Russian Presidential Council for Interethnic Relations, Maxim Shevchenko, pointed to the enormity of the crime, which has become the high point of "the festering wound on the body of both the Caucasus and the former Soviet Union" – the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. "The Khojaly tragedy was a terrible war crime, which stands above all the disasters and sorrows which former Soviet citizens suffered during the Karabakh war. It touches the heart so much. People had been living for a long time in, perhaps not a perfect, but a peaceful country, where a man could sit in a car and travel from Baku to Yerevan, or vice versa," he pointed out.

"And suddenly these people, who 3-4 years previously were Soviet citizens and enjoyed all the rights, began to kill other people like in a slaughterhouse. That's why the Khojaly tragedy is memorable as a certain mark, which people have crossed in relation to each other, they began to divide each other into those who can be killed and those who cannot be killed," Maxim Shevchenko noted.

The Deputy Director General of the Information and Analytical Center of Moscow State University, Alexander Karavaev, pointed out that if there had been no tragedy in Khojaly, the process of a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict could be much more active and effective. "Not a peace, but still there would be a more neutral atmosphere between the two countries and communities. After Khojaly it has become almost impossible, because now it requires certain procedures associated with the memory of the victims and clarifying the relation of the Armenian leadership to the crime," he noted.

At the same time, according to the expert, the mechanism of political reconciliation on this issue is not developed. "Any future settlement, the various plans for which are discussed today, would be impossible without detection of positions with regard to this event. Azerbaijan is striving to bring the very fact of this crime to the world and how Azerbaijanis were affected during the conflict. Obviously, Armenia doesn't welcome its behavior, but Armenia itself is not ready to bear any responsibility for Khojaly," Alexander Karavaev explained.

"Of course, this requires the participation of specialists in Russian military history, possibly extra work in the Russian archives of the secret services and the army, but the amount of obvious factual data suggests a holistic picture. Another question is how the international community is aware of this. However, Baku is managing to build some systematic work around the dates associated with the conflict," the expert said.

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