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MFA: Khojaly genocide result of Armenia's state-sanctioned ethnic hate against Azerbaijanis

26 February 2022 10:00 (UTC+04:00)
MFA: Khojaly genocide result of Armenia's state-sanctioned ethnic hate against Azerbaijanis

By Vafa Ismayilova

Baku has said that the killings of civilians in Khojaly in 1992 were the result of Armenia's state-sanctioned ethnic hate against Azerbaijanis.

In a statement published on its website on the 30th anniversary of the Khojaly genocide, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said: "The indiscriminate killings of civilians at Khojaly stemmed from a policy of ethnic hatred and racial discrimination against Azerbaijanis at the state level in Armenia. It led to the killing of innocent people based simply on their ethnicity. The crimes committed at Khojaly were an integral part of Armenia's policy of systematic violence against Azerbaijanis."

The ministry stressed that the destruction of Khojaly and the murder of its residents was one of the most heinous atrocities performed against the civilian population throughout the decades of Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan and the most terrible chapter of the First Karabakh War. Before the conflict, Khojaly, which is located in Azerbaijan's Karabakh region, was home to about 7,000 people: men, women, children, and families.

"From October 1991, the town was surrounded by the armed forces of Armenia. Overnight, on 25 February 1992, following a massive artillery bombardment of Khojaly, the armed forces of Armenia, with the help of the former USSR infantry guards regiment No.366 of which the Armenians constituted the majority, forcibly seized control of Khojaly. Invaders destroyed the city and, with particular brutality, brought violence to its peaceful population," the statement added.

The city's 5,379 residents were forcefully expelled. Some 613 individuals, including 63 children, 106 women, and 70 elderly were brutally killed. Some 1,275 people were captured, taken hostage, and tortured, while 487 were injured. To this day, the fate of 150 of those captured, including 68 women and 26 children, is unclear. Armenian armed forces' actions tore families apart. There were no survivors among the eight families. A total of 130 children lost a parent, with an additional 25 children having no surviving parent at all.

The Khojaly massacre and other crimes committed by Armenia during its aggression against Azerbaijan, including war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, "constitute serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law", the ministry said, stressing that violations of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and others are among them.

"So far, the national legislative bodies of 17 countries, as well as 24 States of the USA, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Organization of Turkic States have adopted a number of resolutions and decisions condemning the massacre of civilians in Khojaly and characterizing it as a crime against humanity and an act of genocide," the statement added.

In its verdict of 22 April 2010, the European Court of Human Rights reached a significant conclusion regarding the crimes perpetrated in Khojaly, describing the perpetrators' actions as “acts of particular gravity which may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity”.

Under international law, states are obligated to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of crimes such as those committed by Armenian forces in Khojaly. However, no one has been punished in Armenia for the atrocities perpetrated in Khojaly to date, the ministry said.

The statement recalled that the former Armenian defence minister and president, Serzh Sargsyan, was quoted by British journalist Thomas de Waal (Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan through Peace and War (New York and London, New York University Press, 2003), p. 172), as saying, “before Khojaly, the Azerbaijanis thought that ... the Armenians were people who could not raise their hand against the civilian population. We were able to break that [stereotype]”.

The statement underlined that the deliberate targeting of Azerbaijani civilians continued during Armenia's military actions from September 27 to November 10, 2020.

Armenia used the same terror methods it used in 1992, deliberately targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure in Azerbaijani cities, including Ganja, Barda, and Tartar located far from the war zone. Armenia once again unjustly attacked and killed harmless Azerbaijani citizens, this time using contemporary types of armored vehicles, rocket launchers, and cluster bombs, it noted.

"The Republic of Azerbaijan believes that continuous measures taken at the national level, as well as within the framework of existing international law, will serve to end impunity and bring to justice those responsible for serious crimes committed during Armenia's aggression against Azerbaijan. We take this opportunity to remember the victims of the Khojaly massacre and commit their sacrifice to our collective national memory. May they rest in peace," said the statement.

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