On February 26, 2016 the 24th anniversary of occupation of Khojaly town in the Republic of Azerbaijan and brutal massacre against its inhabitants perpetrated by Armenian armed forces is commemorated.
Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno Karabakh conflict, which is one of the most tragic ones of the XX century turns 28 years. The most atrocious day of this conflict which started in 1988 and has still found no resolution, is the Khojaly genocide which took place at midnight of 25th to 26th of February, 1992. This massacre is considered to be one of the bloodiest tragedies in the history of humanity.
Over the night from 25 to 26 February 1992 the Armenian armed forces with the help of the infantry guards regiment No. 366 of the former USSR, which had been located in Khankendi (Stepanakert) during Soviet period, implemented the seizure of Khojaly - a small town situated in the Nagorny Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan, exterminated or captured the thousands of Azerbaijanis, inhabitants of Khojaly.
At the eve of assault, in the evening of February 25th, the town was severely fired from heavy armored vehicles and various guns. This caused fires in the town and in the morning of February 26th, Khojaly totally caught the fire. Under this condition, the inhabitants of Khojaly, who remained in town before the tragic night (about 2500 people) tried to leave their houses after the beginning of the assault in the hope to find the way to the nearest place populated by the Azerbaijanis. But these plans had failed. Invaders destroyed Khojaly and with particular brutality implemented carnage over its peaceful population.
As a result, 613 persons, including 106 women, 63 children and 70 elderly people were killed. Of those who perished, 56 persons were killed with special cruelty: by burning alive, scalping, beheading, gouging out of eyes, and bayoneting of pregnant women in the abdomen.
In the course of the tragedy 487 inhabitants of Khojaly were severely maimed, including 76 children not yet of age. 8 families were completely wiped out, 26 children lost both parents, and 130 children one of their parents. 1275 inhabitants were taken hostages, while the fate of 150 persons remains unknown to this day.
These numbers indicate the most heinous crime and bloodiest tragedy during the armed conflict in and around Nagorno Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan based on claims to annex Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous province, which was an integral part of Azerbaijan SSR to Armenia.
22 years ago Khojaly was razed to the ground. Ancient tumulus, historic monuments of Bronze and Iron ages, 1 town, 1 settlement, 8 villages, 2495 houses, 31 industrial objects, 20 educational and 14 healthcare institutions, 56 cultural, 5 communication objects had been totally destroyed.
Milli Majlis (Parliament) of the Republic of Azerbaijan declared February 26th as the “Day of Khojaly Genocide”. Every year on February 26th at 12:00 Azerbaijanis commemorate memory of the victims of Khojaly genocide.
Khojaly tragedy has been recognized by a number of international organizations and parliaments as the genocide act against Azerbaijani population.
Ministerial Council of the Organization of Islamic Conference held in Islamabad, Pakistan in 2007 gave its political assessment to the Khojaly tragedy. During the 7th session of the Parliamentary Union of the OIC member states (PUIC) held in January 2012 in Palembang, Indonesia, a new paragraph was added to the traditionally adopted resolution on “Aggression by the Republic of Armenia against the Republic of Azerbaijan”. The new paragraph called on OIC member states’ parliaments starting from 2012, which marks the 20th anniversary of Khojaly tragedy, to recognize Khojaly massacre as the genocide perpetrated by Armenian armed forces against Azerbaijani civil population on February 26, 1992 and demanded to take to the justice perpetrators of Khojaly massacre. On December 9-11, 2013 at the 40th session of the OIC Foreign Ministers’ Council held in Conakry, Guinea another document was adopted that recognized Khojaly massacre as the genocide act.
Furthermore, Parliaments of Pakistan (February 2012), Mexico (February 2012), Columbia (April 2012), Bosnia and Herzegovina (February 2013), Czech Republic (February 2013), Peru (June, 2013) and Honduras (January, 2014) recognized the Khojaly tragedy as the genocide and crime against Azerbaijan. Legislative bodies of a number of states of the United States of America, including, of Massachusetts, Georgia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Main, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New-Mexico, Tennessee, Connecticut and Florida have adopted relevant resolutions on Khojaly tragedy.
The International Awareness Campaign was initiated on 8 May 2008 by Mrs. Leyla Aliyeva, General Coordinator of Islamic Conference Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation under the motto of “Justice for Khojaly, Freedom for Karabakh”. The campaign includes inter alia activities aimed at international political-legal assessment of Khojaly tragedy, its recognition as the genocide act against Azerbaijanis, as well as awareness raising on this genocide act.