Address to the people of Azerbaijan on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Khojaly genocide

23 february 2012, 16:20

Dear fellow countrymen!

This year we are marking the 20th anniversary of the Khojaly genocide, which is considered one of the most heinous and bloody tragedies of the 20th century. On the night of 25 to 26 February 1992, Armenian armed forces with the participation of the 366th motorized rifle regiment of the former Soviet army stationed in Khankandi, attacked Khojaly, a town which had been under siege for many months, and wiped it off the face of the earth in a matter of one night. This bloody campaign resulted in a ruthless massacre against civilians, 613 people were killed, their corpses desecrated, while 1,275 people were taken hostage. The fates of 150 of them are still unknown. Those killed included 63 children, 106 women, 70 old and elderly people. As a result of the military aggression, eight families were killed entirely.

Over the past two centuries, Armenian bigots, in an effort to materialize their “Great Armenia” obsession at the expense of historically Azerbaijani lands, have repeatedly committed crimes against humanity such as terrorism, mass extermination, deportation and ethnic cleansing of our people. But the Khojaly genocide, which occurred in the late 20th century right before the eyes of the entire world, was distinguished for particular brutality and ruthlessness and has become the bloodiest page of this aggressive policy. The political and legal responsibility for this grave crime rests directly on the then and current leaders of Armenia, the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh regime.

For nearly 20 years the state of Azerbaijan has been carrying out specific and systematic work to inform the world community of the Khojaly tragedy perpetrated by Armenian fascists and to have it recognized on the international scene as a genocide. In recent years, as part of the international campaign “Justice for Khojaly”, numerous institutions of civil society, youth and Diaspora organizations representing our compatriots together with government agencies have been carrying out productive activities in this area. The true face of the Armenian propaganda machine, built on lies and falsifications, is already being exposed, the global public opinion is beginning to perceive the truth about Khojaly. The Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has recognized this fact as “a massive crime against humanity” and urged its member-states to give an appropriate political and legal assessment to this tragedy. The parliaments of Pakistan and Mexico have passed resolutions recognizing this massacre as an act of genocide.

Currently, the Republic of Azerbaijan is playing an important part in the global security system and in the fight against international terrorism. We consider any racial discrimination and hostility on ethnic and religious grounds, regardless of where they occur, as a crime against humanity. Our government will continue to pursue activities for an objective assessment to be given to the Khojaly genocide and to the Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani lands, and to restore historical and legal justice. We will use all political and legal means necessary to wage an uncompromising struggle against such phenomena.

By perpetrating the Khojaly genocide, the enemy had intended to break the will of the Azerbaijani people, to force us to abandon the struggle for our sovereignty and territorial integrity and to forcibly seize our lands. But this horrendous tragedy has made our nation even more persistent, mobilized our heroic sons and daughters for a decisive and organized fight in name of the sacred Motherland and national statehood.

On this national day of mourning I am paying tribute to the innocent victims of the Khojaly tragedy and asking Allah to repose the souls of all our martyrs. I want to assure you that sooner or later those who perpetrated the Khojaly genocide will be brought to book and suffer condign punishment. The blood of our martyrs will be avenged.

Ilham Aliyev
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan

Baku city, 23 February 2012