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Monday April 15 2024

2023 marks pinnacle of our 30-year effort to bring justice to Khojaly

23 February 2024 12:45 (UTC+04:00)
2023 marks pinnacle of our 30-year effort to bring justice to Khojaly

By Mazahir Afandiyev

Following the Second Garabagh-Patriotic War in 2020, the complete restoration of territorial integrity and sovereignty in 2023 marked the pinnacle of our 30-year effort to free our territories from occupation. The blood of our victims was not shed in vain, as all the crimes and genocides against the Azerbaijani people have been avenged.

Nevertheless, we must never lose sight of the genocide against the Azerbaijani people that occurred in the past. We must work tirelessly to impart these tragedies to a fresh, youthful, patriotic generation while also incorporating them into our literature, folklore, and culture as a whole. Only then will we be able to pass on this history from one generation to the next and prevent such tragedies from happening to our people.

Regretfully, near the close of the 20th century, crimes against humanity, peace, and Azerbaijan persisted, leaving a horrific scar on the country's past. The genocide at Khojaly is one of the crimes against the people of Azerbaijan. 32 years ago, in February 1992, a genocide was carried out that resulted in the deaths of 613 people—106 women, 63 children, and 70 elderly people—1275 citizens were taken prisoner, and 150 people's whereabouts are still unknown. The entire city was destroyed. That terrible night left 487 Khojaly residents—76 of them children—seriously crippled, 8 households utterly decimated, 25 children without a parent, and 130 children with one parent.

In addition to social amenities, private residences, 14 schools, 21 clubs, 29 libraries, three houses of culture, and one local history museum were destroyed as a result of the occupation of the city. The city's tombs and domes from the XIV–XV centuries were completely demolished, and the cemetery was barbarically destroyed.

As a result, our people suffered from torture that was immoral and flagrantly violated the standards and precepts of international law. The National Leader, Heydar Aliyev, has declared over and over again that the Khojaly tragedy is the "blood memory" of the Azerbaijani people. He has also made actual political assessments of the events in the international arena and has taken concrete steps to bring this matter to the attention of the international community.

"With its unimaginable cruelty and inhumane methods of punishment, the Khojaly genocide directed against the Azerbaijani people as a whole is an act of atrocity in the history of mankind," declared national leader Haydar Aliyev. The Milli Majlis passed a resolution "On the Day of the Khojaly Genocide" on February 24, 1994, at his suggestion.

These days, efforts are continuously made to present the world with the facts about Khojaly and to provide an unbiased evaluation of this genocide. Leyla Aliyeva, vice-president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, has been advocating for this work within the framework of the international campaign "Justice for Khojaly" since 2008. Her persistent efforts have inspired our younger generation to raise awareness of this tragedy on a global scale.

The Khojaly massacre and the remembrance of our dead people are being honored by the Azerbaijani people in a new era this year. While we carry out the continuation of their names and pray for the souls of our martyred sons by discussing their valor, we also establish a new course of action that will contribute to the overall growth of our nation.

Our new generation has inherited the protection of modern Azerbaijan established by the Great Leader, and each and every Azerbaijani citizen should keep up their efforts to uphold their country's independence and the core values of its rich historical legacy.

It's an honour that the Khojaly people are returning home after being driven from their ancestral territories and their original land thirty-two years earlier. We will all pay tribute to the people who lost their lives in Khojaly through the construction of new monuments, parks, and infrastructure that is essential to life.

Today, the only goals of the triumphant people are the international recognition of the Khojaly massacre and the punishment of those responsible for the crime. We also hope that the rights of those who perished that horrific night will be fulfilled and that future genocides and massacres against humanity will be prevented.

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Mazahir Afandiyev is the Member of the Milli Majlis (the Azerbaijani Parliament).

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