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Congressman Dan Burton’s speech in the US House of Representatives,
17 February 2005

Mr. Burton of Indiana. Mr. Speaker, for years a number of distinguished Members of this House have come to the Floor of this Chamber every April to commemorate the so-called Armenian Genocide - the exact deiails of which are still very much under debate today almost 90 years afier the events. Ironically and tragically, none of these Members has ever once mentioned the ethnic cleansing carried out by the Armenians during the Armenia-Azerbaijan war which ended a mere decade ago.
Khojaly was a little known small town in Azerbaijan until February 1992. Today it no longer exists, and for people of Azerbaijan and the region, the word “Khojaly” has become synonymous with pain, sorrow, and cruelty. On February 26, 1992, the world ended for the people of Khojaly when Armenian troops supported by a Russian infantry regiment did not just attack the town but they razed it to the ground. In the process the Armenians brutally murdered 613 people, annihilated whole families, captured 1275 people, left 1,000 civilians maimed or crippled, and another 150 people unaccounted for in their wake. Memorial, a Russian human rights group, reported that “scores of the corpses bore traces of profanation. Doctors on a hospital train in Agdam noted no less than four corpses that had been scalped and one that had been beheaded... and one case of live scalping:” Various other witnesses reported horrifying details of the massacre. The late Azerbaijani journali st Chingiz Mustafayev, who was the first to film the after math of the massacre, wrote an account of what he saw. He said, “Some children were found with severed ears; the skin had been cut from the left side of an elderly woman’s face; and men had been scalped.”
Human Rights Watch called the tragedy at the time “the largest massacre to date in the conflict.” The New York Times wrote about “truckloads of bodies” and described acts of “scalpi ing.”
This savage cruelty against innocent women, children and the elderly is unfathomable in and of itself but the sense i ess brutality did not stop with Khojaly. Khojaly was simply the first. In fact, the level of brutality and the unprecedented atrocities committed at Khojaly set a pattern of destruction and ethnic cleansing that Armenian troops would adhere to for the remainder of the war. On November 29, 1993, Newsweek quoted a senior US Government official as saying “What we see now is a systematic destruction of every village in their (the Armenians) way. It’s vandalism.”
This year, as they have every year since the massacre, the leaders of Azerbaijan’s Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities issue appeals on the eve of commemoiaiion of the massacre of Khojaly urging the international community to condemn the February 26, 1992 bloodshed, facilitate liberation of the occupied territories and repatriation of the displaced communities.
And every year, those residents of Khojaly, who survived the massacre - many still scattered among one million refugees and displaced persons in camps around Azerbaijan - appeal with pain and hope to the international community to hold Armenia responsible for this crime. I am pleased to say that on January 25, 2005 the Par- liameniary Assembly of the Council of Europe overwhelmingly adopted a resolution highlighting that “considerable parts of Azerbaijan’s ter-ritory are still occupied by the Armenian forces and separatist forces are still in control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region.” It also expressed concern that the milttary action between 1988 and 1994 and the widespread ethnic hostilities which preceded it, “led to large-scale ethnic expulsion and the creation of mono-ethnic areas which retemble the terrible concept of ethnic cleansing.”
Mr. Speaker, this is not the ringing condemnation that the survivors of Khojaly deserve but it is an important first step by an international community that has too long been silent on this issue. Congress should take the next step and I hope my colleagues will join me in standing with Azerbaijanis as they commemorate the tragedy of Khojaly. The world should know and remember.

 

 

Letter of Britain’s Foreign and Common-wealth Office to the Vatan Society,
24 February 2005


In its letter to the Vatan Society Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office stated inter alia that “[w]hat happened at Khodjaly stands out as an appalltng tragedy in a list of many that occurred during the course of the war. We extend our deepest sympathies to the families of the victims and our assurance that their suffering will not be forgotten”.
According to the Foreign Office, the UK is deeply aware of the horrific incidents that took place during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and that “the suffering continues for the families of those who died and for the many thousands of people displaced from their homes”.

 

 Charles van der Leeuw, Azerbaijan:
A quest for identity: a short history

(New York: St. Martin Press, 2000), p. 171


In the early morning of February 26, the Artsakh Self-Defence Forces stormed the town of Khojaly, on the road between Stepanakert and Agdam, which appeared to have been left almost undefended. Taken by surprise, the population tried to escape but a large number were caught on the way, many slaughtered then and there and many more taken to perish under torture. In total, at least a thousand civilians are thought to have died in the atroctty or else have been reported missing with no hope of survival. More than half of the victims consisted of women, children and elderly.

 


Thomas de Waal, Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan through peace and war

(New York & London: New York University Press, 2003), pp. 169-172


Beginning in the New Year of 1992, the Armenians began to break out of the Karabakhi capital, Stepanakert. They captured the Azerbaijani villages that surrounded the town, expelting the hundreds of Azerbaijanis who remained there. Their main target was now Khojali...
The Armenian ass ault began on the night of 25-26 February, a date probably chosen to mark the anniverr ary of the Sumgait pogroms four years earlier. Armored vehicles from the Soviet 366th Regtment lent their support. They surrounded Khojali on three sides before Armenian fighters went in and overwhelmed the local defenders.

In the middle of the night, a large crowd fled through the woods, which were ankle-deep in snow, and started to descend the vall ey of the small Gargar river. In early morning, the crowd of Khojali civilians, interspersed with a few militiamen, emerged onto open ground near the Armenian village of Nakhchivanik. There they were hit by a wall of gunfire from Armenian fighters on the hillside above. More fleeing civilians kept on coming onto a scene of appalling carnage.
An Armenian police officer, Major Valery Babayan, suggested revenge as a motive. He told the American reporter Paul Quinn-Judge that many of the fighters who had taken part in the Khojali attack “origtnally came from Sumgait and places like that”.1
Asked about the taking of Khojali, the Armenian milttary leader Serzh Sarkisian2 said carefully, “We don’s speak loudly about these things”. “A lot was exaggerated” in the casualties and the fleetng Azerbaijanis had put up armed resistance, he claimed. Sarkisian’s summation of what had happened, however, was more honest and more brutal:
But I think the main point is something different. Be fore Khojali, the Azerbaijanis thought that they were joking with us, they thought that the Armenians were people who could not raise their hand against the civilt an popul ation. We were able to break that [stereotype]. And that’s what happened. And we should also take into account that amongst those boys were people who had fled from Baku and Sumgait.
Sarkisian’s account throws a different light on the worst massacre of the Karabakh war, sugt gesting that the killings may, at least in part, have been a deliberate act of mass killing as intimidation”.

 

______________________
1 See Paul Quinne-Judge, “Armenians, Azerbaijanis tell of terror; Behind an alleged massacre, a long trail of personal revenge”, Boston Globe,
15 March 1992.

2 Currently takes up the post of the Defense Minister of Armenia.
 

 


Ednan Agaev, Azerbaijan: the next battleground between EAST and WEST

(Paris: Office d’Edition Impression Librairie, F.-X. de Guibert, 2005), pp. 121-122

Located a stone’s throw from Hankendy (Spedanaker for the Armenians), the capttal of Upper Karabakh, the Azerbaijani city of Khodjali, population 2,500, has the only airport in the enclave. A strategic place par excellence in the conflict, Khodjali piqued the interest of Armenia, which decided to appropriate the city by means of force. During the night of February 25 to 26th, 1992, militia of the Autonomous Republic of Upper Karabakh, baked by the motorized infantry of the 366th regtment of the ex-Soviet Union, the majority of its officers are Armenian in origin-shelled the city. Then, carrytng out a policy of ethnic cleansing, decided by Armenia against Azerbaijan, mounted a bloody attack.
Aft er a few hours of fierce combat, Khodjaly surrendered. It was completely destroyed, a shell of a town, a ghost city. Its luck iest inhabi tants were able to escape, but the losses were very heavy: 613 people, of which 63 were children, 106 women and 70 aged people-were killed, and 487 others seriously wounded.

 

 

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