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Aghdam – 24 year-old occupation

23 July 2017 10:00 (UTC+04:00)
Aghdam – 24 year-old occupation

By Rashid Shirinov

Twenty four years have passed since the Armenian occupation of Aghdam – one of the most distinguished and ancient Azerbaijani regions.

On July 23, 1993, after the occupation of Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region and adjacent Lachin and Kalbajar regions, Armenian armed forces invaded the Aghdam city and burnt and razed it to the ground. The Armenian aggressors occupied most of the territory of Aghdam region. They seized 882 of the 1,094 square kilometers of the territory of Aghdam, including one city and 80 villages. As a result, some 128,000 people became internally displaced persons, and over 6,000 people died during the fighting in Aghdam.

After the occupation, the Armenians destroyed historical monuments, schools, libraries, hospitals, cemeteries, offices and facilities in the occupied territory. As many as 122 villages, some 24,000 residential buildings, 48 industrial and construction enterprises, 160 schools, 65 health centers, 373 cultural centers, a theater, two museums and three mosques were burnt down and demolished in the region.

Following the seizure of Aghdam, Armenian vandals ruined most of the historical monuments of the region. These include the ancient settlement Uzarliktepe, stone monuments in the Kangarli village (14th century), Khanoglu tomb (17th century), the mansion of Panahali Khan of Karabakh (18th century) and his tomb (19th century), and the twin-minaret Juma mosque of Aghdam (1870), the Shahbulag fortress and many other admirable monuments of Azerbaijan.

As a result of the occupation of Aghdam, Azerbaijan faced material damage worth $6.179 billion. The damage inflicted to the region’s agriculture alone is estimated at 992.8 million manats.

An American diplomat Matthew Bryza, who managed to visit Aghdam after the tragedy, was shocked by the state of the city. “What I saw in Aghdam put me in fear. The entire city turned into ruins. The occupation of Aghdam reminded me the state of Warsaw after World War II,” he noted.

The Armenian aggressors also depleted the natural resources of the region. Thus, the eastern sycamore trees aged up to 400 years and other tree species were destroyed in the occupied territories and currently are about to vanish from the world flora treasure.

Moreover, arsons committed by Armenian soldiers in the occupied villages of Aghdam resulted in the deaths of various pheasants, vipers, partridges and other animals which are included in the Red Book and the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List of Threatened Species.

Today, the internally displaced persons from Aghdam have to live in other regions of Azerbaijan, far from their native Aghdam. For almost three decades these people have been waiting for the day when the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will eventually be resolved. However, the clear refusal of the Armenian side to negotiate with Azerbaijan and resolve the conflict show that the aggressor country is not going to withdraw from the occupied lands.

Nevertheless, the Azerbaijani IDPs believe that sooner or later the justice will be served, the occupied Azerbaijani lands will be returned either by political negotiations or the use of force, and Azerbaijanis will celebrate that long-awaited day in Aghdam and other occupied regions.

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Rashid Shirinov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @RashidShirinov

Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz

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