26 Years of Khojaly Genocide

February 26, 2018


By Sahibzada M. Saeed

Second half 20th century has witnessed multiple transitions at structure level. 150 years old age of colonialism has ended. In post-colonial era various states has emerged. Decades long cold war started between two ideological rivals. The world has split into two blocks. Vietnam War, Arab-Israel conflict, civil wars in Africa and Latin America, Iran-Iraq war and Afghan War, international peace remained turbulent. When cold war ended and Soviet Union disintegrated the series of sabotaging peace were carried out and innocent humanity remained suffering. Massive human rights violations occurred in former Soviet Republics. Especially in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Where innocent Azeri population were being victimized by usurper Arminian forces.

The writer is an IR Analyst and Columnist based in Islamabad.

The writer is an IR Analyst and Columnist based in Islamabad.

Last year, I got a chance to study Nagorno-Karabakh conflict closely in Azerbaijan for my research which has been published in Baku State University’s journal under the title of “BLACK GARDEN TO RED HEAVEN: A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF KHOJALY GENOCIDE AND INDIAN ATROCITIES IN KASHMIR”.

The Nagorno-Karabakh is usually traced backed to be linked with disintegration of Soviet Union in 1991, when both countries Azerbaijan and Armenia were internationally recognized as independent states. However this conflict has its roots to World War I. This piece of land was actually the part of Azerbaijan and existed in its internationally accepted boundary. When Russia occupied Azerbaijan in 1805, huge Armenian population moved to this region to alter its demographic level.

Conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia erupted in late 80s, near the dissolution of Soviet Union. In 1987, Armenia ignited this issue by attacking Azeri population in Khankendi area which led to massive Azerbaijani refuges and IDP’s. Afterwards local ethnic Armenian majority of Karabakh passed a resolution to unify Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) with Armenia without any consultation or even informing to Azerbaijan on 20 February 1988. This decision was not accepted by local Azerbaijani people and they conducted a peaceful protest on 22 February 1988.  Armenian forces fired bullets and killed two protestors. These were the first casualties that initiated the conflict. It caused chaos conditions and riot erupted in Sumgait city of Azerbaijan that resulted in 26 fatalities from 26-28 February, 1988. Later on, in court proceedings it came to notice that Armenia backed violence, genocide and turmoil through its Armenian Edward Grigorian that was native of Sumgait. Armenia hired him to murder Armenian population residing in Azerbaijan to cause chaos and violence and ignite anti-Azerbaijan movement. Interethnic fighting started in various cities of Armenia and Azerbaijan. About 200,000 Azerbaijan people left their native villages in Armenia and migrated to Azerbaijan.

After the independence from Soviet Union, bloody war erupted between Armenian and Azerbaijan that led to lot of causalities and refuges from both sides. Armenian secret forces and local Armenian ethnic organizations started undeclared war and massive cleansing of local Azeri population in 1992 and captured Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts of Azerbaijan. This led to about 700,000 Azeri people displacement. Rebels self-declared it independent state with the name Republic of Artsakh. International community rejected their claim and recognized it as part of Azerbaijan. Six year extreme fighting ended in Ceasefire in 1994. Now the ethnic Armenian has control on Nagorno-Karabakh after this ceasefire. Post ceasefire violence is common especially from Armenian ethnic army.

At the independence of Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh was within boundaries entitled to it. United Nations recognized Azerbaijan’s map as well as border containing Nagorno-Karabakh on time of its membership in 1992.

The war on Nagorno-Karabakh ended but the stories of brutal killings and mass murders lagged behind. The most heinous war crime of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is known as Khojaly genocide. Armenia committed unprecedented genocide of Azerbaijani people in the town of Khojaly in February 1992. Armenian forces launched military operation during the night 25 to 26 February 1992. Local people tried to escape in the nearest villages under Azerbaijan control but in vain. Armenian forces brutally killed local peaceful people including old man and children and arrested thousands of local people and demolished the whole town. Armenian army spared none of human being that was unable to flee Khojaly. Armenian military murdered 613 people. They imprisoned 1,275 natives and 150 persons are missing to date. Armenian government rejected these crime accountability but several independent sources have documented proofs of Armenian brutalities and are eyewitnesses.

United Nations General Assembly passed resolution on 14 March 2008 about Nagorno-Karabakh demanding immediate, complete and unconditional removal of Armenian forces from this disputed area. United Nations Security council also sectioned and accepted Azerbaijan’s stand on this issue.  UN Secretary General has included Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the top of priority list of 2018 at General Assembly meeting in New York. It shows that world consider this land as disputed land and matter of immediate importance. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, is internationally working to solve this issue and remain most active for it in 2017. As a result foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia met on 18 January 2018 in Krakow, Poland to find peaceful solution to this issue.

Pakistan and Azerbaijan have very cordial relations in all domains. Azerbaijan fully supports Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir while Pakistan also endorse Azerbaijan’s position on Nagorno-Karabakh at all forums including OIC and United Nations. Pakistan was among first countries to recognize Azerbaijan. Our government didn’t recognize Armenia yet. Parliament of Pakistan declared Khojaly as a genocide and appealed international community to take notice of Armenian atrocities in Nagorno-Karabakh. On 26th of February, Azerbaijanis celebrate anniversary of Khojaly genocide all over the world and pay tribute all martyrs who sacrificed their lives for their motherland.

*The writer is an IR Analyst and Columnist based in Islamabad and can be reached at mmsb1000@gmail.com.