By Abdul Kerimkhanov
The Azerbaijani village of Jojug Marjanli happily met the New Year. Unbelievably warm sun rays shining behind the magnificent mountains on cold winter day brought a festive mood to residents of the village who could return their homeland only a couple of years ago.
The return of the residents of Jojug Marjanli to their hometown after a 24-year-long refugee and IDP life recorded a heroic chronicle. Jojug Marjanli instils hope and faith in the soon liberation of other occupied territories and the beginning of the Great Return. By the way, that's exactly how the park in Jojug Marjanli is called “The return”, where villagers rest and arrange holidays.
Another attraction of the village is the mosque, which is an analogue of the Shusha mosque. And the slogan at the entrance to the village reads “From Jojug Marjanli to Shusha” and fully reflects the mood of the Azerbaijani people, who are ready to continue to liberate its lands from Armenian occupation.
Having arrived in the village, the first thing that caught the eye was the white doves on the roof of one of the local houses. Birds symbolized the atmosphere of peace that reigns in the village liberated from Armenian occupation through heavy battles.
One of the local residents, the Aghsakkal of Avchy, told Day.Az that he was happy to return to his native village after many years of life as a displaced person, the life that no one would happy with. For him, this is a reward for patience.
“I am grateful to Mr. President and Azerbaijani army for this great return,” said the old villager. "And I am always glad to all those who come to our village."
Despite the fact that Jojug Marjanly is on the front line, the faith in the strong army helps people not to be afraid, but be proud of it.
Life here is no different from the everyday life of other villages in the country - everyone is busy, children ride bicycles, go to school, adults breed cattle and cultivate the land. All of them have dreams and are happy to live their life on the native land.
It might appear that these people are just like others in Azerbaijani regions, however the perception of the land here is a bit different - having passed through trials and sufferings, they are full of affection and love for the Motherland. For more than 25 years, refugees have been forced to live with longing in hearts, their only hope was to see their lands liberated from occupation again.
The Azerbaijani people are impatiently waiting for release of Armenian-occupied lands, they want peace and harmony to reign in the entire territory of the country.
Peace or force?
The Nagorno-Karabakh war, that took lives of more than 20,000 Azerbaijanis and forced over 1 million people to leave their native lands, cannot find its solution for over 20 years.
The bloody war, which flared up in the late 1980s due to Armenia’s territorial claims against neighboring Azerbaijan, led to occupation of 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions by Armenian armed forces.
Until now, Armenia controls fifth part of Azerbaijan’s territory and rejects implementing four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding regions.
Azerbaijan has many times declared its readiness to begin negotiations with Armenia to free the captives and resolve the long-standing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. However, the Armenian side keeps ignoring all attempts of Azerbaijan and world organizations, thereby disrespecting the international law and hindering the settlement of the conflict.
Azerbaijan which already waited long for peaceful resolution of the problem had to take decisive steps and move its army further in April 2016.
One of the most tragic conflicts in the history of the 20th century that affected the destiny of millions aggravated on April 2, 2016 again after the Armenian military units in the occupied lands started shelling Azerbaijan’s positions.
To protect civilian population, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces launched counter attacks and as a result, the Azerbaijani troops retook hills around the village of Talish, as well as Seysulan settlement, and also took over Leletepe hill located in the direction of Fizuli region.
Leletepe is an important strategic point, which allows to secure the nearby Azerbaijani settlements from enemy fire and control the positions of the Armenian Armed Forces on the other side of the contact line.
Today the Jojug Marjanli village of Jabrayil region is under the full control of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces.
The liberation of Leletepe hill by the Azerbaijani troops allowed the residents of the liberated village of Jojug Marjanly of the Jabrayil region to return to their native lands and live a normal life without fear of the enemy's bullets. And this year they have already met 2019 there.
In late January 2017, President Ilham Aliyev issued an order to restore the village. In a short time, Jojug Marjanly turned into a modern and comfortable settlement. Today there are 150 houses, as well as kindergartens, a school, a first-aid post, mosques, permanent water supply, electricity, natural gas, and asphalt.
Today, thanks to the state attention and care, life in Jojug Marjanly continues in a normal way. Having returned to their homes, the residents of Jojug Marjanly began a new life in comfortable apartments. Various projects are being implemented in the village aimed at providing employment for residents and improving their social welfare.
Ilham Aghalar, a military expert, a veteran of the Karabakh war in an interview with Day.az noted that Jojug Marjanly village became a symbol of liberation of Azerbaijani lands from invaders.
The most significant moment in the April 2016 battles, Aghalar said, was the release of Leletepe heights, as a result of which Jojug Marjanly got free from control fulfilled from the Armenian positions, after which the village was restored and people returned to their ancestors' land.
He stressed that the April battles again proved that Azerbaijanis did not accept the fact of occupation and would never accept it.
"At any time we are ready to liberate our lands by armed means, and the April battles confirmed our combat readiness. Of course, we are supporters of this conflict being resolved peacefully but are ready to solve it otherwise by military actions. We will restore the integrity of the territory of our country, raise the flag of Azerbaijan in each of our region," said the military expert.
The military expert noted that the sooner the internally displaced persons return to their lands, the better. Because the presence in the country of such a large number of internally displaced persons creates not only social problems but also leaves moral and psychological injury to people and affects future generations.
The return of even one village is considered a great success.
"It changes not only people's way of life, but also their outlook and shows to the whole world that we are ready to return to our lands, despite everything is destroyed there. We are ready to restore everything, to build again, we are ready to return and we will be back," concluded the Karabakh war veteran.
Due to the ethnic cleansing policy carried out by Armenia and the Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions of Azerbaijan, 1.2 million people are obliged to live a refugee and IDP life in Azerbaijan. With a population of about 9.8 million, Azerbaijan is among the countries carrying the highest IDP caseload in the world in per capita terms.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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