2401) The Debacle: From Kafan to Khojaly / A Confession on Hocali Massacre

1) Commemorating The 20th Anniversary Of The Khojaly Massacre - Rep. Steve Cohen
2) The Debacle: From Kafan to Khojaly By Yusif Babanly
3) A Confession on Hocali Massacre
4) The Khojali Genocide: A Shameful Spot in the History of Mankind by Shamkhal Abilov . . .

Commemorating The 20th Anniversary Of The Khojaly Massacre
Feb. 14, 2012
Rep. Steve Cohen

Mr. Speaker, I rise to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Khojaly massacre by Armenian armed forces on February 25-26, 1992 in the town of Khojaly in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. Khojaly, now under the occupation of Armenian armed forces, was the site of the largest killing of ethnic Azerbaijani civilians in the course of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict.

Khojaly, once the home to 7,000 people, was completely destroyed. Six hundred thirteen people were killed, of which 106 were women, 83 were children and 56 were purported to have been killed with extreme cruelty and torture. In addition, 1,275 people were taken hostage, 150 went missing and 487 people became disabled. Also in the records maintained, 76 of the victims were teenagers, 8 families were wiped out and 25 children lost both of their parents while 130 lost one of their parents. According to Human Rights Watch and other international observers, the Armenian armed forces were reportedly aided by the Russian 366th Motor Rifle Regiment.

At the time, Newsweek magazine reported: ``Azerbaijan was a charnel house again last week: a place of mourning refugees and dozens of mangled corpses dragged to a makeshift morgue behind the mosque. They were ordinary Azerbaijani men, women and children of Khojaly, a small village in war-torn Nagorno-Karabakh overrun by Armenian forces on 25-26 February. Many were killed at close range while trying to flee; some had their faces mutilated, others were scalped.''

As part of the Khojaly population that tried to escape, they encountered violent ambushes that led to abuses, torture, mutilation and death. The Russian organization, Memorial, stated that 200 Azerbaijani corpses were brought from Khojaly to Agdam within four days.

Time magazine published the following description: ``While the details are argued, this much is plain: something grim and unconscionable happened in the Azerbaijani town of Khojaly 2 weeks ago. So far, some 200 dead Azerbaijanis, many of them mutilated, have been transported out of the town tucked inside the Armenian-dominated enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh for burial in neighboring Azerbaijan. The total number of deaths--the Azerbaijanis claim 1,324 civilians have been slaughtered, most of them women and children--is unknown.''

The extent of the cruelty of this massacre against women, children and the elderly was unfathomable. This anniversary reminds us of the need to redouble efforts to help resolve the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. The United States as a Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group should continue to stay engaged in the resolution of this protracted conflict.

Mr. Speaker, Azerbaijan is a strong ally of the United States in a strategically important and complex region of the world. I ask my colleagues to join me and our Azerbaijani friends in commemorating the tragedy that occurred in the town of Khojaly.


The Debacle: From Kafan to Khojaly
24 February 2012
By Yusif Babanly, Contributor
Journal of Turkish Weekly (JTW)

When the ethnic Azerbaijani citizens living in Kafan and Mehri districts of Armenian SSR were subject to brutal beatings and expulsion in November 1987, one could hardly imagine, the hatred towards Azerbaijanis would transform into a disturbing act of terror, culminating in Khojaly Massacre.

Foreshadowed by the public speech of Mikhail Gorbachev’s advisor Abel Aganbekyan in Paris on November 16, 1987 on annexation of Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan SSR to Armenian SSR, the nationalist circles in Armenia started to mobilize their efforts on the Republic Square in Yerevan. The ingredients had already been secretly prepped and a letter to Moscow with thousands of signatures of Armenians, petitioning an unconditional transfer of Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) of Azerbaijan SSR to Armenian SSR ensued. Note that the key word here is “unconditional” which means Armenians demanded an outright annexation of a part of the sovereign Azerbaijani territory of Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia on grounds of population misbalance (76% Armenian versus 24% Azerbaijani) in favor of Armenians within the NKAO boundaries, whilst dismissing the entitlement, or its lack, thereof, for similar rights of 220 thousand Azerbaijanis densely populating Kafan, Mehri, Daralayez (Vayots Dzor), Basarkecher (Vardenis) districts to administrative political autonomy, let alone, unification with Azerbaijan proper.

And so the game plan played on. To avoid facing similar demands from the Azerbaijani minority in Armenian SSR, their complete and systematic expulsion from Armenia seemed the best option. November of 1987 delivered two railcars of first Azerbaijani refugees; January of next year – 4 buses. By the end of February, 1988, the number of the displaced was as high as 4 thousand. They were settled in urban areas such as Sumgait, Baku and Ganja. One may wonder as to why Azerbaijani refugees primarily expelled from rural areas of the aforementioned districts of Armenian SSR were placed in Azerbaijani cities instead of villages or settlements where they would have fit better. The answer lies within the objective. The urban districts usually are subject to more visibility and are home to many more economic and socio-political interests at the disturbance of which a particular incident may escalate into a bigger event and subsequently spring back the reactive measures. In a village, where a population is limited to specific number, an interethnic violence would be contained to a minor local riot and would soon die off. In a city, much like Sumgait, Ganja and Baku, the unrest would likely start with a group of revengeful youth to grow into easily manipulated crowds dispersed in various districts of the city. They would harm people, break into shops, burn cars and clash with police, inevitably attracting attention of the pre-dispatched media, or simply designated people with video cameras. And that is exactly what took place. Sumgait, as the most vivid example of manipulation of sensitive elements, would soon be assumed as the birthplace of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, because the cameras, usually in no hurry to capture “spontaneous” events in a less attractive industrial backyard such as Sumgait, were there to capture the images of “angry Azerbaijani mobs” turning the city upside down, right from the first hours of February 27, 1988. One should not be surprised that three days later, on March 2, 1988, these images were publicly broadcast in Switzerland and the United States, although the press containment policy of the Soviet Union never facilitated such an action in other regions of Soviet Union. In the days following massacre of 131 civilians in the streets of Baku by the Soviet Army in January 1990, TV and radio stations were shut off, the information was suppressed to prevent any leaks associated with the massacre to an outside international press. Nonetheless, the images of the violence in Sumgait never described the roots of the violent disturbances, the fact that both Armenians and Azeris died as a result. Neither did they inform about the three ethnic Armenian gang leaders, the most infamous of them being Eduard Grigoryan who was caught in the act, charged, sued and convicted who disappeared into the thin air once he was transferred to a Moscow prison.

The result yielding from Sumgait events was that the ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijanis from Armenia which started in November of 1987 went absolutely unnoticed while the image of a victimized Armenians in Sumgait arose with the piece of video camera tape rolled over and over for Western audiences.

During the next few months following Sumgait events, the Communist leadership in Azerbaijan would continuously convince the Azerbaijani public of unbreakable bond of friendship between Azerbaijani and Armenian peoples. All the while, Azerbaijani populated areas in Armenian were being emptied by forcible evictions fueled by nationalist aspirations of Armenia which eventually transformed this Soviet republic into a mono-ethnic entity with no single representatives of Azerbaijani ethnicity left behind by early 1990. By contrast, not only did the ethnic Armenians remained a sizable minority within Azerbaijan, excluding its Karabakh region, but they were able to retain their status of a 30 thousand-strong minority to this day, in an independent Azerbaijan, primarily living in urban areas such as the capital Baku, Sumgait and surrounding settlements.

History of the demographic changes within the context of the Karabakh conflict is rather “fascinating”, in a sense that historical Azerbaijani lands within the present day Armenia, where Azerbaijanis retained the absolute majority, such as Irevan, Sharur-Daralayez, Surmaly, parts of Novo-Bayazit uyezds as recent as the beginning of the 20th century, were systematically emptied of Azeris by Russian imperial authorities followed by Soviet leadership with establishment of USSR. The largest recorded displacement of Azerbaijanis from their native homeland what is now southern and eastern Armenia, was realized in 1948-1953, as per two infamous decrees by Soviet Union’s Council of Ministers numbered 4063 and 754. As a result, more than 100 thousand Azerbaijanis were relocated from regions of Armenia to lowlands of Azerbaijan, thus emptying living space for incoming Armenians from diaspora, primarily from Lebanon and Syria.

Nevertheless, ethnic Azerbaijanis remained in big numbers and constituted the biggest ethnic minority in Armenia until the beginning of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in 1987. No socially and/or ethnically driven cultural rights were distinctly given and no autonomy was extended to Azeris, while Armenians enjoyed linguistic, cultural, social and more importantly, political governing rights within Azerbaijan. In the long run, it eventually contributed to illegitimate demands for an annexation of a part of a sovereign state to another.

With mobilized efforts to drive out all of the remaining Azerbaijani population of Armenia in late 1980’s, the Armenians sealed off the possible quest of Azerbaijani minority in Armenia for a cultural autonomy. What was left to do by the first quarter of 1990 was to play victim, force out the Azerbaijani population of Nagorno-Karabakh and unilaterally annex it to Armenia. The plan was realized with two effective instruments: terrorism throughout Azerbaijan outside of the conflict zone and massacres within the conflict zone.

The term “Armenian terrorism” came onto headlines in mid 1970’s when the terrorist organizations ASALA (Armenian Secret Army for Liberation of Armenia) and Justice Commandos for Armenian Genocide (JSAG), among many other smaller groups, have taken up a role of combating the Turkish civilians around the world for having allegedly committed “genocide” of Armenians in Anatolia in 1915. However, seeds of Armenian terrorism had been planted much earlier than 1915, when the Armenians of Turkey decided to form an ultranationalist Dashnaktsuitsuin (Armenian Revolutionary Federation) organization to establish a state in eastern Ottoman Empire at the end of the 19th century, at the behest of Russian imperial ambitions. From seizing a bank in Istanbul in 1896 to committing massacres of Azerbaijani civilians in Shusha during spring holidays in 1920, Dashnak militants have terrorized masses to the maximum extent. Decades later, a newer wave of Armenian terrorism in 1970’s-1980’s left dozens of Turkish civilians dead, subsiding to the minimal activity by 1985. With calls of Zori Balayan and Silva Kaputikian for annexation of Karabakh to Armenia, ultranationalist circles picked up the guns again. From Qazakh to Agdam, from Ganja to Baku, no Azerbaijani citizen was safe. Buses, trains, airplanes, subway traffic were subject to Armenian terrorist attacks. The last publicly known terrorist acts in Baku subway station were registered in Baku before and shortly after signing of ceasefire agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia in May 1994. One of the largest atrocities was shooting down of Azerbaijani relief airplane en route to Armenia to participate in search and rescue operations and help the Armenian earthquake victims in December 1988. All but one of 77 Azerbaijanis on board died.

The second tool was terrorization of local Azerbaijani population in Nagorno-Karabakh. Starting from late December 1989, Azerbaijanis were terrorized by public beatings, killings, grouped massacres throughout Karabakh, from Karkijahan suburb of Khankendi, Malibeyli, Gushchular to Garadaghly, all within a span of two months. Despite the villages of Malibeyli, Gushchular and Garadaghly rose in flames, the information on extermination of up to 140 civilians and complete ethnic cleansing of these villages was largely suppressed. The Azerbaijani residents of Karabakh still stood their ground. To break the confidence and intimidate the Azerbaijani population of the region, Armenians needed a debacle of bigger proportions which would put an end to hopes of peace and reconciliation. In the words of current Armenian President and then the commander of Armenian detachments: “Before Khojali, the Azerbaijanis thought that the Armenians were people who could not raise their hand against the civilian population. We were able to break that [stereotype]” (Thomas de Waal, Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan through Peace and War. New York and London, New York University Press, 2003, p. 172.), he perfectly described the state of naïve trust and hope of the Azerbaijani party to the conflict which inadvertently fell victim to misguidance.

Starting with the headscarf of Khuraman Abbasova, a notable from Karabakh, thrown before the Azerbaijani crowd on February 22, 1988 near Askeran to prevent further bloodshed between Azerbaijani and Armenian people (It is an Azerbaijani tradition to respect an elderly woman and not step over her will once a “mother’s headscarf” is thrown before someone) after two Azeri youths, Ali Hajiyev and Bakhtiyar Guliyev, had fallen victims to Armenian bullets near Askeran, up until the underreported massacres in Garadaghly on February 17, 1992, Azerbaijanis were being convinced by the leadership that the friendship between Armenians and Azeris will live on. Khojaly proved otherwise. A rather unnoticed town of about 2,000 Azerbaijanis in early 1992, Khojaly was encircled by now Armenian occupied villages. In early months of that year, the town had already been living under blockade for several months in a row. The only communication to the town was by helicopter, delivering food and medical supplies. That was history by end of January, when the last helicopter with civilians on board was shot down by Armenian grenade launcher near Shusha. Hungry, cold, ignored and unprotected, Khojaly was enduring its last days.
Should the Armenians have kept a blockade alive for a few more weeks, the Azerbaijani residents would most likely have no choice but to either surrender or leave the town altogether.
However, the plan envisioned by Armenian army was not just to seize the town, but to subdue the Azerbaijani trust and break the promise of reconciliation in Karabakh. The intent was clear: occupy, exterminate and expose. The plan was to be enforced by several Armenian guerilla detachments, 366th regiment of the Russian army headed by Armenian officers and the missionaries.

Enter Monte Melkonian, the infamous terrorist who planned and executed murders of Turkish diplomats in Europe, spent time in French prisons and is now the highly glorified hero of Armenia. Melkonian had been responsible for massacring Azerbaijani civilians in Garadaghly and Agdaban villages in 1992. In the words of his brother Markar Melkonian, who described his militant career in his book “My Brother’s Road: An American’s Fateful Journey to Armenia”, Khojaly for Monte was an “act of revenge”. It was a good opportunity for extermination of enemy civilians, whom members of Arabo and Aramo detachments stabbed to death. Unlike other genocides of 1990s, such as one in Srebrenica, where 8 thousand Bosnian men of different age were executed by firing squads to diminish future Bosnian fighting capabilities, Khojaly where 613 civilians (among them 106 women, 83 children, 79 elderly) were massacred, was an atrocious act, vandalism and inhuman behavior. What really distinguished Khojaly Massacre was the derision, humiliation, tortures and rapes of the victims. Children were killed in front of their parents. Parents were tortured before the eyes of their children. Women were publicly raped. Eyes of the already diseased civilians were gauged out, tongues cut off, breasts chopped off, arms and legs broken, bodies decapitated. Not only was it a physical atrocity but also a psychological calamity. One Azeri woman from a group of fleeing civilians had to suffocate her infant child when they hid in the woods so that the Armenian militants following them would not hear the cries of the baby.

By the time Azerbaijani cameraman Chingiz Mustafayev and international journalists made their dangerous flight into the kill zone, the killing spree had ended. Only the soothing wind was telling the story of unimaginable proportions about violence inflicted on unarmed civilians. Dispersed throughout the hills, the bodies of children, women, and elderly lay unmoved, for one simple reason. They were Azerbaijani Turks. The pictures shot by Mustafayev profoundly changed what the conflict was really about. In the film, chopper sounds and shots from the Armenian guns on the horizon were the only background to crying Azerbaijani men who almost lost conscience when seeing the despicable act of terror committed by Armenian militants. Khojaly massacre, as well documented as it is, has become an inalienable part of Armenian military history. It serves as a well-deserved opprobrium of continued warfare waged on Azerbaijani and Turkish civilians for more than a century.

Perpetrators of Khojaly Massacre have not been prosecuted yet. Some were killed by Azerbaijani soldiers of Ganja regiment by Hasangaya village of Aghdara in summer of 1992; some have returned to Armenia to become heroes; some took executive positions such as the President of Armenia, Serzh Sarkissian and Defense minister Seyran Ohanian. In 2012, the Prosecutor’s office of Azerbaijan Republic disclosed the list of main actors charged with the Khojaly Massacre.

Following terror attacks on the Twin towers in Manhattan on September 11, President George W. Bush stated, “whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.” Mass murder in New York or mass murder in Khojaly, justice awaits them all.

* Yusif Babanly is the co-founder and secretary of the US Azeris Network (USAN) and a member of the board of directors of Azerbaijani American Council.

Yusif Babanly

While the Armenian historians, statesmen, diplomats and academicians claim that the 1915 incidents are “genocide”, they never mention about the Armenian organizations, as well as genocide and the terrorist activities that were perpetrated by Armenia. However, the Armenian historians can at least be realistic and write about the facts. For the reason that the principle of the historians should be as following: “Examine every aspect of a subject; leave your prejudices aside. Only then you can hope to reach at the fact.” That is the reason why a historian loves the facts, and he can only be a real historian only if he leaves his prejudices a side. (1)

The latest massacre towards Turks by the Armenian was committed at the town of Hocali of Azerbaijan at the Karabagh War during 25-26 February 1992. In spite of the fact that the documents and the information before and aftermath the incident were enough to characterize this incident as a genocide, and 16 years have passed over the incident, none of the authorized and responsible international institutions have made a fair and judicial evaluation on this matter. And this situation leads to disputes on genocide-massacre at Hocali.

One should examine the period prior the massacre had occurred for proving the existence of “a desire to destroy” which is required for an incident to be genocide. (3) When we observe the period prior the 1992 Hocali genocide, we detect a desire to destroy had come to existence at the end of the 19th century and we can spot that they committed this organized crime whenever they had the chance. The Armenian Tashnak and Hinchak organizations had followed systematical and planned racist policy towards Turks in Anatolia and Southern Caucasus during 1905-¬1918 and Armenian government had followed a four-phased destruction policy towards Turks from 1918 until today.

The first actions of Armenians against Turks had started after 1813 Gülistan and 1828 Türkmençay Agreements with the support of the Russians. At the first phase, the Armenians, who were brought from various regions during 1828-1887, were settled at the geography of Azerbaijan, leading the population increase artificially. During this period, they managed to demonstrate themselves as victims by increasing their population and exploiting from the warm approach of the Tsarist government. The Armenians also demonstrated that they were quite skillful by increasing their population among the native inhabitants and strengthened economically and so, seized new lands.

The Tsarist government has always helped the Armenians on this issue. At the second phase, the Armenians, who got organized during the years of 1887-¬1918, resorted the methods of terror and genocide for an independent Armenia in the framework of Hay Dat Doctrine. This period has also been a period where the attempts for changing population balance continued at the favor of Armenians. At the third phase, a policy for “An Armenia, where only Armenians live” was attempted to be put in effect during 1918¬-1988. In this connection, the names of villages, towns and cities were attempted to be changed into Armenian language and Turks were forced to emigrate from Armenia, in other words, from the place they were born. At the fourth and the last phase, the diffusion policy of Armenians has turned into an irredentism. The Hocali genocide occurred at the fourth phase. However, neither Hocali nor the other assaults should not only be considered alone, but as a part of the process, which has been continuing since the 19th century.

It is obligatory to prove for a crime to be considered as genocide that the suspects should hate a certain group so much that they would desire to destroy that certain group. (4)

When we look at the incident from this point of view, we can consider the Turkish opponent activities of Armenia and the Diaspora Armenians that had started at the 19th century and which are still going on, as racism. The anti-Turkish sentiments of the afore-mentioned Armenians can be regarded identical with the anti-Semitism in Europe prior the World War II. The difference is that the Armenians do not have Hitler’s power of putting it into practice in a certain limited time. Nevertheless, when we look back at the history, we can observe the fact that they never missed a chance, with the support of the foreign powers to exploit the circumstances, where instability was being experienced at the Turkish government.

It was earlier indicated that the Azerbaijani population living in Hocali were being destroyed just for being Turks. The speech, which revealed the hatred sentiments of the ones, who committed genocide at Hocali, was delivered by Serj Sarkisyan, the Prime Minister of Armenia and a candidate for the presidency. When English journalist Thomas de Vaal asked the reason of the Hocali genocide to Serj Sarkisyan, the Minister of Defense of Armenia of the related period, Sarkisyan replied as following: “We do not wish to speak loud on this issue. Until Hocali, Azerbaijan never thought we would assault civilians, however, at Hocali we broke that cliché. Also, we should admit the fact that our attack units in Hocali were composed of the Armenians, who ran away from Baku and Sumgait.”

While police Chief Valeri Babayan was saying: “The attack units in Hocali were composed of the Armenians, who ran away from Azerbaijan/ Sumgait and other regions”, in fact, he was confirming what Sarkisyan had told. When Armenia had gathered and sent all the Turkish origin Azerbaijanis to Azerbaijan by a train, the Armenians living at Azerbaijan/ Sumgait and Baku were sent to Armenia. However, later it came out that the Sumgait incidents were nothing but a provocation that were incited by the Russian intelligence. As a result, the Armenians who left Azerbaijan felt hatred and were full of revenge sentiments towards Turkish origin Azerbaijanis and they found the chance to express these sentiments at Hocali. (5) The statement of Sarkisyan is, in fact, the expression of a special “Revenge Brigade” that was formed with the Armenians, who had emigrated from Azerbaijan against the people of Hocali by the Armenians. Also, even though it has been planned for a long period of time, the Hocali attack, which runs into the fourth anniversary (6) of the Sumgait incidents, cannot be considered as a coincidence.

Not documenting the things that was done to Turks at Hocali, is a real chance for the Armenians. Armenians used the photographs of genocide they committed at Hocali against the Turks and claimed that the photographs in question are documents of the massacres that is committed against the Armenians. For instance; the photographs of Hocali were used at the article entitled “The Armenian Realities” which was written on the so-called Armenian genocide by Edvard Pariyantsin at V Novom Svete/ New Continent in New York with the support of "Moskovski Komsomolets" newspaper.

Starting from the 19th century, the only way to stop the assaults organized against the Turks passes from the deepness of the history. Recognizing Hocali incidents as genocide would expose the real side which committed genocide, which is Armenians, and in this connection would lead the propaganda activities that are started against Turks by the Armenians all over the World, go wrong. On the other hand, recognizing Hocali incidents as genocide would strengthen the sense of justice and law.

1- Justin McCarthy, "Who Started it?", Translation. Sedat Isçi, Mustafa Çalik, "Armenian Genocide" Claims, Cedit Publications, Ankara, 2006. p. 11.
2-Cavid Veliev, "The Black Spot of the History", 27.02.2007, http://www.tusam.net/makaleler.asp?id=840&sayfa=17, (13.02.2008).
3- Gündüz Aktan, "The Armenian Issue According to the State Law" Mustafa Çalik, "Armenian Genocide" Claims, Cedit Publications, Ankara, 2006, p.. 46.
4- Gündüz Aktan. A.g.e., p. 49.
5- Tatul Hakobyan, "Khojaly: The Moment of Truth", 5 Mart 2007, http://www.hetq.am/eng/karabakh/594/, (13 Subat 2008).
6- These incidents occurred on 28 February 1988..

Source: Cavid VELIEV / TUSAM Near east and Caucasus Research Desk Cumhuriyet daily Newspaper-25.02.2008


The Khojali Genocide: A Shameful Spot in the History of Mankind
by Shamkhal Abilov
27 February 2009

The Khojali Genocide, with its brutality and inhumanity was the result of the Armenian policy of creating a “Great Armenia” from sea to sea. Following this policy, throughout history Armenian chauvinists have committed several bloody crimes, acts of terror, and genocidal actions against the Azerbaijani people. With the decline of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, they got an opportunity to implement their historical dream. Moreover, beginning in 1988 Armenians intending to create a mono-ethnic state forced Azerbaijanis living in Armenia to flee their historical territories. Also violating the international norms of territorial integrity, the Armenian government aimed to annex Nagorno Karabakh, a historically Azerbaijani region, with Russian military, socio-economic and political support.

These events led to the killing of thousands of innocent Azerbaijanis, as well as the removal of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis from their historical homelands. Hundreds of settlements, thousands of public-cultural buildings, educational and medical establishments, historical-cultural monuments, mosques, saint worships, and cemeteries were destroyed and became the subjects of unprecedented Armenian vandalism. Thousands of our fellow-citizens died or were injured during the Armenian occupation, with their armed forces occupying 20 percent of our territory. One of the most repulsive crimes against the Azerbaijani people was the brutal annihilation of hundreds of innocent inhabitants of the town of Khojali by Armenian fascists on the night of 25/26 February 1992.

On that night the Armenian armed forces, under the command of Major Oganyan Seyran Mushegovich and Yevgeniy Nabokhin, with the help of the 366th motorized infantry brigade of the Russian Interior Ministry, stationed in the capital city of Nagorno Karabakh, Khankandi, occupied the small town of Khojali. Following the occupation of Khojali, 613 innocent Azerbaijanis, including 106 women and 83 children, were massacred by Armenian and Russian forces. Twenty-five children were orphaned and 130 lost one parent. Eight families were totally exterminated. Four-hundred and seventy-six people were permanently disabled. A total of 1275 people were taken hostage, and even though afterwards most of the hostages were released, the fates of 150 of them are still unknown. The event sparked the exodus of Azerbaijanis from their historic lands. [1]

The Khojali massacre, which has entered our history as the Khojali Genocide, with its brutality was totally ethnic cleansing against the innocent people of Azerbaijan. This bloody tragedy represents terrorist and barbaric behavior in the history of mankind and crimes against humanity. The results of the massacre were difficult to tabulate; Armenians perpetrated an unheard-of punitive crime against the population of the town of Khojali. According to the results of medical examinations, 56 of the victims were killed with unusual cruelty. They scalped, cut off people’s heads and other organs, extracted the eyes of children, and chopped the stomachs of pregnant women. Some people were burned alive. [2]

A Russian human rights group reported that "scores of the corpses bore traces of profanation. Doctors on a hospital train in Aghdam noted that no fewer than four corpses had been scalped and one had been beheaded.... and one case of live scalping." Human Rights Watch called the tragedy at the time "the largest massacre to date in the conflict." The New York Times wrote about "truckloads of bodies" and described acts of "scalping." Pascal Privet and Steve Le Vine of “Newsweek” in the article “The face of massacre” reported: “Azerbaijan was charnel house again last week: a place of mourning refuges and dozens of mangled corpses dragged to a makeshift morgue behind the mosque. They were ordinary Azerbaijani men, women and children of Khojali, a small village in war–torn Nagorno-Karabakh overrun by Armenian forces on 25-26 February. Many were killed at close range while trying to flee; some had their faces mutilated, others were scalped” [3]

On 3 March 1992 the New York Times reported: “fresh evidence emerged today of a massacre of civilians by Armenian militants in Nagorno-Karabakh, a predominantly Armenian enclave of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani officials and journalists who flew briefly to the region by helicopter brought back three dead children with the backs of their heads blown off. They said shooting by Armenians had prevented them from retrieving more bodies. Dozens of bodies scattered over the area lent credence to Azerbaijani reports of a massacre. New York Times also motioned that, “Near Agdam on the outskirts of Nagorno-Karabakh, a Reuter’s photographer, Frederique Lengaigne, said she had seen two trucks filled with Azerbaijani bodies. "In the first one I counted 35, and it looked as though there were almost as many in the second," she said. "Some had their heads cut off, and many had been burned". [4]

Another freelance journalist Clare Doyle reported: “Advancing Karabakh Armenian troops were able to overwhelm Azerbaijani forces defending Khojali. In a chaotic retreat, Azerbaijani troops found themselves intermingled with hundreds of civilian refugees as they all fled to the nearby town of Agdam. Armenian forces fired on this group as they crossed open ground. Estimates vary widely, but it is clear that at least 200 and possibly more than 600 people were killed, among them many women and children”. [5]

In his book “Revival of our souls”, the Armenian author Zori Balayan justified the Khojali Genocide and proudly confessed Armenians’ Genocide against Azerbaijanis in Khojali in 1992 February. He said in his book that, “When I and Khachtur entered the house, our soldiers had nailed a 13-year-old Turkish child to the window. He was making much noise so Khachatur put mother’s cut breast into his mouth. Then I did what their fathers had done to our children. I skinned his chest and belly. Seven minutes later the child died. As I used to be a doctor I was humanist and didn’t consider myself happy for what I had done to a 13-year-old Turkish child. But my soul was proud for taking 1 percent of vengeance of my nation. Then Khachatur cut the body into pieces and threw it to a dog of same origin with Turks. I did the same to three Turkish children in the evening. I did my duty as an Armenian patriot. Khachatur had sweated much. But I saw struggle of revenge and great humanism in his and other soldiers’ eyes. The next day we went to the church to clear our souls from what done previous day. But we were able to clear Khojali from slops of 30 thousand people”. [6]

Another Armenian author David Davidian, while condemning Azerbaijani soldiers with Khojali events, wrote that, “On 26 February 1992 Armenian forces succeed in capturing the second largest Azerbaijani-populated center in Nagorno Karabakh, Khojali, in the Askeran region, which had also doubled as a potent launching point for GRAD missile attacks upon surrounding Armenian regions. Close to 300 Azerbaijanis and Meshketian settlers brought to buttress the Azerbaijani presence are killed while fleeing with Azerbaijani soldiers in retreat. Just after the Armenians and the CIS’s 366th Motor Rifle Regiment captured and neutralized shelling position in Khojali, during a civilian evacuation process fighting erupted between Armenian and CIS soldiers guarding this evacuation and Azerbaijani soldiers mixed in with these evacuating civilians. The result was the deaths of hundreds of evacuating Azerbaijani civilians and soldiers.” [7] This information proves the direct Russian support of Armenia in the Nagorno Karabakh war and the involvement of Russian military base 366’s motorized infantry brigades for the fulfillment of the Khojali Genocide.

On February 17th 2002, Dan Barton, a member of the US Congress, described the Khojali Genocide in his speech in the House of Representative as following: - "this savage cruelty against innocent woman, children and elderly is unfathomable in and of itself but the senseless brutality did not stop with Khojali. It was simply the first. In fact, the level of brutality and the unprecedented atrocities committed in Khojali set a pattern of destruction and ethnic cleansing those Armenian troops would adhere to for the remainder of the war".[8] All these facts prove that Armenia committed genocide against civilians, violating Geneva Convention protocol concerning war rules. During the Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan all acts defining the crime of genocide under this Convention were committed.

According to international law, genocide is defined as an act committed against peace and humanity and considered to be the gravest international crime. The UN General Assembly Resolution 96 (I) of 11 December 1946 reads that genocide, through rejecting the groups’ right to life, degrades human dignity, deprives the mankind of the material and spiritual values created by human beings. Such odious acts are completely contrary to the spirit and aims of the United Nations. The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted by Resolution 260(III) of the UN General Assembly of 9 December 1948 and which entered into force in 1951, provides a legal framework for the crime of genocide. The states that signed this Convention confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under the international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.

The fact that the violence during the Khojali Genocide was well organized and planned in advance and aimed at total or partial destruction of people on the grounds of their ethnic origin confirms that these acts constitute the crime of genocide under international law. This act of vandalism and brutality committed by Armenian aggressors should be considered not only as 31th March Genocide of Azerbaijan or Black January, but on the same level as the Jewish Genocide by Nazi Germany during the Second World War and the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. The author of this historical crime targeted not only Azerbaijanis, but also the whole civilized world and mankind. It was the birth of a new form of fascism and has to be punished by the international community. But unfortunately, the Khojali genocide, though characterized by gross violations of human rights, has not yet received legal recognition at the international level. No concrete measures have been taken against the terrorist and aggressive acts. The international community must acknowledge the Khojali Genocide. It is time to make decisions compliant with the universal values and international legal norms.

Each year on February 26 Azerbaijan commemorates the inhuman action, which is known as the Khojali Genocide committed by joint Armenian and Russian armies. Former President of the Azerbaijan Republic Haydar Aliyev issued a special decree regarding the Khojali genocide on March 1, 1994. According to an appropriate decree of the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the 26th day of February was declared as a day of national mourning in memory of the innocent Azerbaijanis who were killed in inhuman ways during the Khojali massacre.

1. Elkhan Nuriyev, “Khojali Genocide Forever Remember”, Today’s Zaman. 27.02.2008


2. Elman Mammadov, Autumn 1999 (7.3), “Massacre and Flight From Khojali”, Journal of Azerbaijan International, USA, Autumn1999 (7.3), p54-56


3. This information was taken from the Press Release of the Special Mission of Azerbaijan Republic to the United Nation, “Khojali Genocide-16th Anniversary”, 26.02.2008 http://www.un.int/azerbaijan/62%20Session/Press%20Release%202008/Khodjali.pdf

4. New York Times, “Massacre by Armenians Being Reported”, 03.03.1992 http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E0CE0DE1739F930A35750C0A964958260&scp=1&sq=khojaly%20genocide&st=cse

5. Clare Doyle, “Genocide Debate Complicates Search for Karabakh Peace”, 06.03.2002 http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/insight/articles/eav030602a.shtml

6. Zori Balayan, “Revival of our souls”, 1996, p 260-262. This text was taken from the website of “Armenian Genocide Research Center” referring to book given above. http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com/2007/02/1402-media-scanner-6-feb-2007.html

7. David Davidian, “Armenian Capture of Khojali, February 1992”,


8. Dan Burton, “Remembering Khojali, Finally Documented in U.S. Congressional Record”, Journal of Azerbaijan International, USA, Spring 2005 (13.1), p 16-17. http://azer.com/aiweb/categories/magazine/ai131_folder/131_articles/131_khojali_congress.html

9. Interview with the Dr. Rovshan Ibrahimov, Head of International Relation Department at the Qafqaz University. 22.02.2009

10. Interview with the Former State Advise on the Foreign Affairs of the President of Azerbaijan Republic Professor Vafa Quluzadeh. 02.26.2009