By Abdul Kerimkhanov
Khankendi, the center of Upper Karabakh, the region of Azerbaijan, was occupied by Armenian armed forces on December 28, 1991 and a separatist regime was created. The last Azerbaijani families were expelled from Khankendi on that date.
Khankendi is a developed industrial center of Azerbaijan, located on the coast of the Gargar river, in the eastern foothills of the Karabakh ridge, 329 km of Baku. There are light and food industry enterprises in the city. Such enterprises as electrical engineering, car repair and asphalt concrete plants, furniture factory, construction materials, industrial, manufacturing and educational production combines.
According to historical documents, Khankendi was set up as a residence for the rest of Karabakh khanate's Khan. Karabakh khanate was one of the independent states of Azerbaijan in the late 18th century. And the name of the city came from here. By the year 1813, Armenians were not living in Khankendi, and then the policy of ethnic cleansing was carried out by the Russian Empire and Armenians were deported there from Iran.
The policy of ethnic cleansing against the Azerbaijanis in Khankendi during the USSR strengthened, and the number of Armenian families in the city artificially increased. Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region was formed as part of Azerbaijan with the capital Khankendi in 1923. Then, the policy of Armenianization of the province was activated. Taking into account the appeal of Armenians on October 6, 1923, the name of Khankendi was renamed Stepanakert in honor of Stepan Shaumian, a genocide committed against the Azerbaijani people. The Armenians were promoted to leadership positions in the Autonomous Province. Thus, the Khankendi began to fall under Armenian occupation.
During the former USSR, the Azerbaijanis living in Khankendi gradually were forced out of there. When the events of 1988 began, the Armenian population in Khankendi was considerably larger than Azerbaijanis. At that time, the number of Azerbaijanis was about 17,000, while the Armenians had risen to 40,000. Khankendi was already the center of Armenian separatism in 1988-1989. Last Azerbaijanis were expelled from Khankendi on December 26, 1991. And the occupation of the city was completed.
As many as 34 people were killed and 150 injured in various battles for the Karkijahan and surrounding areas. Three of the martyrs were women and two were children.
Before the occupation, the population of Karkijahan village was 1,796 people. As many as 350 households, two secondary schools, one kindergarten, a library, a club, an automatic telephone exchange, 10 shops, a polyclinic, five production workshops and other household objects were destroyed in Karkijahan.
Today, after more than a quarter-century have passed since the occupation of Khankendi, Azerbaijani internally displaced people still wait for the return to their native places. Regrettably, their desire remains unnoticed by the world community – Armenia keeps ignoring four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions.
Azerbaijan tries to resolve the conflict as soon as possible, while the aggressor Armenia does the opposite by making every effort to preserve the status quo in Nagorno-Karabakh. Currently, 20 percent of the Azerbaijani territories remain under Armenian occupation and over 1 million refugees and IDPs have to live far away from their homes in hope of returning there someday.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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