Khojaly tragedy - 26 years
On February 26, 1992, Armenian military committed an act of genocide against the 7000 population of the Azerbaijani town of Khojaly.
As many as 613 people, including 63 children, 106 women and 70 old people were killed as a result of the massacre. A total of 1,000 civilians became disabled in the onslaught. Eight families were completely annihilated, 130 children lost one parent, while 25 lost both parents. Some 1,275 innocent residents were taken hostage, while the fate of 150 people still remains unknown.
A part of the town residents, who attempted to flee, were killed by Armenians in pre-organized ambushes. According to the Russian Remedial Center Memorial, 200 corpses were brought from Khojaly to Agdam within four days of the massacre. Facts of humiliation on dozens of bodies were registered. Forensic examination in Agdam was performed on 181 corpses, including 13 children. The examination revealed that 151 people died from bullet wounds, 20 people died from shrapnel wounds, 10 were killed with blunt instruments. Facts of scalping people alive were also revealed. The Khojaly genocide has become one of the most terrible and tragic pages of Azerbaijani history.
The city, of course, was not defenseless, it was guarded by Azerbaijani soldiers, and the residents themselves organized the departure of women and children to safe areas. Head of administration and commandant of Khojaly airport, Alif Hajiyev, helped the completely surrounded town survive for a few month with no gas and electricity, limited supply of food. When the Armenian offensive from three sides started on February 25, Alif gave an order to evacuate the town. The few defenders along with Hajiyev escorted the crowd of civilians along the Gorgor river valley overnight to the open plain near the village Nakhichevanli. That's where the mass killing of Azerbaijani civilians by Armenian militants occurred in the early morning hours of February 26. While crossing a road in groups, civilians were defended by Hajiyev who exchanged fire with Armenian troops. While covering the third group, Hajiyev was shot dead while trying to change the magazine. The bullet hit him in the head. He was buried in Martyrs' Lane in Baku and posthumously awarded the title of the National Hero of Azerbaijan.
All these acts were committed by Armenian military with extreme mercilessness and inconceivable barbarism. The second battalion of 366th regiment under the command of Major Seyran Ohanian, the third battalion under the command of Yevgeniy Nabokhin, staff chief of the first battalion Valeriy Chitchyan and more than 50 officers and ensigns took part in the attack, according to information from “The Investigation Materials Concerning Khojaly Occupation”.
A political analyst, Candidate of Historical Sciences Oleg Kuznetsov, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that the Khojaly attack was planned with the active participation of the military. "The commander of the second battalion of the 366th regiment decided to organize an armed insurrection and ordered his subordinates to do it. And the Khojaly tragedy was planned at the level of military professionals with the calculation of armored vehicles, forces and means necessary to commit a war crime," he pointed out.
Part of the plan for committing the Khojaly massacre was the participation of international terrorists, specially invited by the separatists, in the crime to make it more cruel. "They were from Syria and Lebanon, they were commanded by Monte Melkonyan. They came from the Middle East specifically to commit massacres. As a result, there was a three-pronged system of professional military personnel, international terrorists and Karabakh separatists, who planned the assault of Khojaly as an army operation and an act of intimidation. This was done because the separatists wanted to commit some serious crime and it was already impossible to mitigate the conflict," Oleg Kuznetsov concluded.
The facts about the Khojaly tragedy are not subject to any historical and legal disputes. All of them were recorded in the report of 1992 prepared by Human Rights Watch, an international organization which impartiality with regard to the investigation of the Khojaly events is beyond doubt
"The attacking party is still obliged to take precautionary measures to avoid or minimize civilian casualties. In particular, the party must suspend an attack if it becomes apparent that the attack may be expected to cause civilian casualties that are excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated. The circumstances surrounding the attack on those fleeing Khojaly indicate that [Karabakh] Armenian forces and the troops of the 366th CIS regiment deliberately disregarded this customary law restraint on attacks. Nagorno Karabakh officials and fighters clearly expected the inhabitants of Khojaly to flee since they claim to have informed the town that a corridor would be left open to allow for their safe passage. Under these circumstances, the killing of fleeing combatants could not justify the forseeably large number of civilian casualties," the report says.
Subsequently, Human Rights Watch issued an additional document, which refuted the 1992 report quotes, distorted by the Armenian authorities to avoid responsibility for the Khojaly tragedy. Of course, it has not stopped the criminals, and the campaign against just retribution to the murderers continues to this day - which means that the battle for Khojaly is still underway, and it's up to us, those who remember, to decide its outcome against those who are trying to force us forget it.