Azerbaijan marks 31st anniversary of Khojaly massacre

On Feb. 26, Azerbaijan will observe the 31st anniversary of the Khojaly tragedy, the mass killing of Azerbaijani civilians by Armenian forces in the town of Khojaly.

To mark the event, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling the 1992 Khojaly genocide one of the “gravest crimes” committed against the civilian population during the decades-long aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan.

The ministry said the Khojaly tragedy, the “indiscriminate killing” of the civilian population, is only a part of the policy of “ethnic hatred racial discrimination and systematic violence,” implemented by Armenia against Azerbaijan for many years at the state level.

The statement also published a list of the international documents, violated by Armenia during its aggression against Azerbaijan.

The ministry said that it is possible to open an international investigation against Armenia under the international law, adding that to date none of those involved in the massacre was brought to justice in Armenia.

The ministry recalled incriminating remarks by Armenia’s then Defense Minister and ex-President, Serzh Sargsyan, who told British journalist Thomas de Waal that “before Khojaly, 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).”

History of Khojaly tragedy

According to the Justice for Khojaly project, at the end of 1987, then Armenian Soviet Republic openly laid claim to the territory of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast of the Azerbaijani Soviet Republic.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, in Oct. 1991, Khojaly, a district located in the mountainous Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, home to some 7,000 people, was completely surrounded by Armenia’s armed forces.

On the night of Feb. 25-26, following massive artillery bombardment, Armenia’s military together with former USSR’s 366th Motorized Infantry Regiment occupied Khojaly.

According to the Justice for Khojaly, of 7,000 Khojaly residents, 5,379 were deported and 613 people, including 63 children, 106 women and 70 elderly citizens, were murdered by the Armenian occupation forces.

Besides, 1,275 residents were taken hostage and tortured, 487 were injured, while the fate of 150 captives, including 68 women and 26 children remains unknown.

The actions of the Armenian armed forces tore families apart. Eight families were completely wiped out, 130 children lost one parent and 25 children lost both parents.

Commemorations of Khojaly tragedy

According to the Azerbaijani authorities, the parliaments of 18 countries, 24 US states, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Organization of Turkic States adopted a number of documents, condemning the mass killing of civilians in Khojaly and characterizing it as a “crime against humanity and an act of genocide.”

Memorials dedicated to the Khojaly tragedy have been erected in several cities of Azerbaijan, including capital Baku, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, Israel, Mexico and Türkiye.

Meanwhile, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry expects that measures taken at the national level, also effective from the point of view of international law, will serve to end impunity and bring to justice those responsible for “serious crimes committed during Armenia’s aggression against Azerbaijan.”

“There has to be a legal assessment on the Khojaly genocide and those who committed this terrible tragedy should receive its proper punishment.

“We engrave the victims of the Khojaly tragedy in our national memory and honor their reminiscence. Rest in Peace!” it said.​​​​​​​

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