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Anniversary of Khojaly massacre commemoration

26th Feb 2021
Anniversary of Khojaly massacre commemoration

Azerbaijani father sits by the bodies of his children murdered by Armenian forces during the Khojali massacre (Credit: Ilgar Jafarov/WikiCommons)

On the 29th anniversary of the brutal massacre committed by the Armenian armed forces against Azerbaijani civilians in the town of Khojaly in 1992, Tahir Taghizade, Ambassador of Azerbaijan in the UK, argues they will hold Armenia accountable for the crimes and will also ensure that justice is served for the victims of Khojaly massacre.

Establishing the ‘Muslim East’s’ first democracies more than 100 years ago, Azerbaijan, after restoring its independence in 1991, has been committed to the maintenance of international peace and security and existing norms and principles of international law in its external relations.

However, my country faced the strongest violation of these norms and principles by neighbouring Armenia when the latter occupied and ethnically cleansed Nagorno Karabakh region and 7 adjacent districts of Azerbaijan in flagrant disregard of international law back in 1988-1994.

Armenia committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide against Azerbaijani civilians, the most atrocious of them being in the town of Khojaly where they killed more than 613 civilians, including 106 women and 63 children in one night. Fifty-six of those civilians were murdered with particular cruelty: most were slaughtered, some were burned alive, beheaded, some were mutilated, and others were scalped, February 26, marks the 29th anniversary of this tragedy.

Numerous facts, including investigative records, eyewitness testimonies, evidence from international media sources and reports of intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations confirms the responsibility of Armenia, its political and military leadership and subordinate local armed groups for the crimes committed in Khojaly.

A year later in 1993, the UN Security Council adopted four resolutions condemning the occupation of Azerbaijani territories, and affirming respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan, the inviolability of international borders and the inadmissibility of occupation of territories.

The national legislative bodies, of 16 states as well as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, adopted resolutions and declarations condemning in strongest terms the massacre of the civilian population in Khojaly. They also recognized the tragedy of Khojaly as an act of genocide and crime against humanity.

In its judegment on April 22, 2010, the European Court of Human Rights qualified the behaviour of those carrying out this incursion as “acts of particular gravity, which may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity.”

As a result of military operations between Armenia and Azerbaijan from September 27 – November 9, 2020, and a trilateral statement signed by Presidents of Azerbaijan and Russia and Prime Minister of Armenia on November 10, Azerbaijan liberated its occupied territories. In these liberated territories, we have seen the cities completely razed to the ground, hundreds of religious and cultural monuments, including 64 of 67 mosques, were destroyed and most of them desecrated being used as pigsties.

Recently, a delegation headed by Director General of the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization have been in Baku and visited the liberated territories to witness these destructions with their own eyes.
While with the signing of Trilateral agreement, we have entered a new stage of reconstruction, rehabilitation and restoration of peaceful co-existence, Azerbaijan will rebuild these territories and restore all the cultural and religious heritage of Karabakh.

Yet, by holding the perpetrators accountable for various crimes against the People and the State of Azerbaijan, we will also ensure that justice is restored for the victims of Khojaly massacre as well as for more than 100 civilians killed in Berde, Ganja, Terter and other cities of Azerbaijan with cluster munitions during the Second Karabakh war.

 

HE Tahir Taghizade,

Ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan

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