Twenty-two years ago – on the night from 25 to 26 February 1992, the Armenian aggressors perpetrated genocide, which is on a par with the bloodiest tragedies in human history, in the Azerbaijani town of Khojali.
Thousands of people in the capital of Azerbaijan gathered early in the morning on 26 February at the memorial erected in Khatai district in memory of the victims of the tragedy to take part in a ceremony in connection with the 22th anniversary of the Khojali genocide.
The commemoration ceremony was attended by President of the Azerbaijan Republic Ilham Aliyev.
The guard of honour lined up at the memorial to the victims of the tragedy.
President Ilham Aliyev laid a wreath at the monument and commemorated the victims of the tragedy.
Flowers at the monument were also laid by Prime Minister Artur Rasizada, Chairman of the Milli Majlis Ogtay Asadov, Head of the Presidential Administration Ramiz Mehdiyev, and the First Lady of Azerbaijan and President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva.
The ceremony was attended by representatives of the state and government, MPs, ministers, heads of committees and companies, heads of religious denominations, as well as residents of Khojali, who avoided the massacre.
Participants in the ceremony laid roses and carnations at the monument.
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On that night, which is inscribed in the history of Azerbaijan with letters of blood, Armenian armed forces, supported by armoured vehicles and military personnel of the 366th regiment stationed in Khankandi back in Soviet times, most of whom were Armenians, destroyed the ancient city of Khojali.
As a result of this latest massacre committed by Armenian aggressors against the Azerbaijani people 613 people were mercilessly killed, including 106 women, 63 children and 70 old people, 487 people became disabled and 1,275 civilians were captured, and the fate of 155 people is still not known. As a result of this act of genocide, eight families were completely destroyed and 25 children lost both of their parents.
The Khojali tragedy is a continuation of the policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide carried out by Armenian nationalists and their patrons against the Azerbaijani people for almost 200 years. During the genocide, 56 people were killed with particular cruelty, 3 people were burnt alive, corpses were scalped, body parts and heads were cut off, eyes were gouged out and the bellies of pregnant women were ripped open with bayonets. This was a premeditated act, which was aimed at completely or partially exterminating people on a national basis, and therefore, under international law, the Khojali tragedy is genocide.
The international community should give a legal assessment to this crime against humanity.
The Azerbaijani state is conducting targeted and consistent activity in order to tell the world the truth about the crimes committed against our people by the Armenian nationalists, including the Khojali genocide, and to have this tragedy recognized as genocide. President Ilham Aliyev described the Khojali tragedy as a bloody page in the policy of genocide and ethnic cleansing against Azerbaijanis conducted by Armenian nationalists for centuries.
The atrocities committed by Armenian aggressors on that bloody night will never be erased from memory. What happened was not only genocide against the Azerbaijani people, but also a bloody crime against humanity. Despite this, the then Azerbaijani authorities did nothing to ensure that this terrible event is given a political assessment and that the world public is provided with objective information about the massacre.
Only after the return of Heydar Aliyev to power at the insistence of the people, was this bloody tragedy given a political and legal assessment. In 1994, on the initiative of the great leader Heydar Aliyev, the Azerbaijani parliament declared 26 February Khojali Genocide Day.
Every year the anniversary of this terrible tragedy is marked with a heavy heart both in the country and by our compatriots living in different countries of the world and representatives of other friendly nations.
In these days people in various countries around the world commemorate the cherished memory of the victims of the Khojali tragedy, stage rallies and pickets, demonstrate photographs, films and materials reflecting the atrocities of the Armenians. Influential newspapers around the world publish articles and radio and TV stations broadcast programmes devoted to these tragic events.
Special merits in informing the world of the truth about the tragedy belong to the Heydar Aliyev Foundation.
The Justice for Khojali campaign launched on the initiative of the Vice-President of the Foundation and Senior Coordinator for Intercultural Dialogue of the Islamic Conference Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation, Leyla Aliyeva, is successfully continuing. The purpose of the campaign is the international recognition of the Khojali tragedy as the biggest crime against humanity.
As a result of the work that has been carried out, the insides of the Armenian propaganda machine built on lies and falsifications are being exposed. The world community is already beginning to perceive the truth about Khojali. The Khojali tragedy as genocide is reflected in the decisions and resolutions of many countries and international organizations. The parliaments of Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Pakistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, the Czech Republic, Jordan and Honduras, as well as the legislatures of the American states of Massachusetts, Texas, New Jersey, Maine, New Mexico, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Connecticut, Florida and Mississippi and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation have recognized the Khojali genocide.
Under international law, genocide is an act against peace and humanity and is considered the most serious of international crimes. Convention No 260, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1948 and came into force on 1961, sets out the legal foundations of the crime of genocide. During the aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan, all acts related to genocide referred to in this Convention were applied. The terrorist policy of this occupying country has been carried out for many years in front of the international community despite the fact that, according to international law and UN and OSCE principles, it is necessary to respect the inviolability of state borders. The violation of territorial integrity and sovereignty is unacceptable. Although the UN Security Council has adopted four resolutions on the unconditional liberation of the occupied Azerbaijani lands, Armenia is still not implementing them.
Committing the Khojali genocide, Armenian nationalists pursued such insidious goals as intimidating the Azerbaijani people, sowing panic, breaking their fighting spirit and forcing them to accept the occupation of their lands. But the intentions of the insidious and ruthless enemy did not come true, and our nation is showing an example of high heroism in defending the sovereignty of the state.
The Azerbaijani people are absolutely convinced that our state, which has turned into a centre of economic power in the South Caucasus at the moment, has further strengthened its position in the world and secured its military might, will liberate its lands occupied by the enemy in any way, that the blood of our martyrs will be avenged and that the perpetrators will be punished.