Armenian occupation: Chronicle of bloody events
By Nigar Orujova, AzerNews Staff Writer
Azerbaijan commemorates the 19th anniversary of the Armenian occupation of its Fizuli, Jabrayil and Gubadly regions in late August.
As a result of a brutal war over the mountainous region of Nagorno Karabakh in the early 1990s, Armenian armed forces invaded over 20 percent of Azerbaijan`s internationally recognized territory, in defiance of international law. To date, Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions remain under Armenian occupation. A ceasefire accord was signed in 1994, but long-standing efforts by US, Russian and French mediators have been fruitless so far.
The Armenians seized 51 villages and the center of the Fizuli region on August 23, 1993, forcing 55,000 Azerbaijanis to leave their native land.
The Fizuli region covers the territory from the southeastern slopes of the Karabakh Mountain range to Araz River. It borders on Azerbaijan`s regions of Khojavand, Jabrayil, Agjabadi, and Beylagan, as well as Iran along Araz River.
The territory of the Fizuli region is 1,386 square kilometers and the population was approximately 105,000 people. Ninety-three percent of the region is occupied, while some 13 settlements and 20 villages are located in the region`s territory, which is free from the occupation. Families of internally displaced people (IDP) were temporarily settled there after rehabilitation.
Since 1988, the Fizuli region has been subjected to frequent attacks by the Armenians. In the aftermath of the occupation, more than 1,100 residents of Fizuli fell in battles, 113 were captured and 1,450 were disabled.
The town was renamed into Fizuli in 1959 on the occasion of the 400th birthday anniversary of great Azerbaijani poet Muhammed Fizuli. The former names of the town were Karabulag (till 1827), and Karyagino (till 1959).
Fizuli had been the center of archeological and historical research for a long time. The town had two museums. The museums` unique rarities dating back to the Paleolithic Age include a part of a jaw of the Asykhanthropos who lived 300,000 to 350,000 years ago, which was discovered in 1968 in the Azykh cave near Fizuli.
The Fizuli region, with its fertile and beautiful nature, has a number of historical monuments as well. The unique caravanserai built in 1684 was located in Gargabazar village; there were also Haji Giyasaddin mausoleum and mosque built in 1682, Ahmedalilar, Babids and Mirali mausoleums, Azykh and Taglah caves.
There are a lot of historical and archeological monuments in the region. The caravanserai in Fizuli and hundreds of monuments in the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh are now under Armenian occupation. There used to be a mosque of Haji Alekper, mosques in the villages of Gochakmedi and Gargabazar dating back to the 18th century, another historical monument of the 18th century -- Sheikh Baba Yagub mausoleum, as well as a great number of ancient cemeteries in Fizuli.
A number of talented and brave people were born here. The people of this land appreciate and respect the memory and legacy of Azerbaijani poet Fizuli. The famous Azerbaijani 20th century playwright, People`s Writer Ilyas Efendiyev (1914-1996), National Hero of Azerbaijan Seymur Mammadov (1971-1992), Azerbaijani football striker Rauf Aliyev (born in 1989) are noble sons of this fruitful town as well.
The Ecology and Natural Resources Ministry`s section supervising the devastating impact on the environment and natural resources in Azerbaijan`s occupied territories has revealed a number of facts of destruction of natural resources by Armenians in the Fizuli region in the occupation period.
Armenians felled all the trees in the Dovlatyarli village located in a forest zone, destroyed greenery along the roads in the Gochahmadli and Yaglivand villages, and burned more than 35,000 hectares of land in 2006-2009.
Before the occupation, there were several industrial and construction enterprises and a quarry operating in the district. Fizuli farmers worked in soil tilling, viticulture, cattle breeding, silkworm breeding and cotton growing. There were 70 libraries, 20 houses of culture, 45 clubs, people`s and state drama theatre, 13 hospitals, stadiums, 65 state farms, and collective-farms, etc. in Fizuli.
The Jabrayil region was invaded by Armenian armed forces on August 23, 1993 and has been under Armenian military control ever since.
Jabrayil is an ancient Azerbaijani region located in the south-west of the country, bordering Iran. It is the capital of the region of the same name with a territory of 1,050 square kilometers, separated from the Iranian province of Eastern Azerbaijan by Araz River. In the pre-Soviet period, the present territory of the region was part of the Jabrayil uyezd (district), established in 1875 and having even larger territory.
This beautiful Azerbaijani region is rich in historical and architectural monuments. Located here are many unique sites including the Khudaferin Bridges dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries, ``Gala burju`` (Constellation Tower) (5th-6th centuries), a burial mound in the Dag Tumas village, Sultan Majid bath-house (Middle Ages), many mausoleums, and Khan-Chinar tree aged more than 800 years.
Jabrayil is the motherland of intellectuals and noblemen, statesmen and public figures, prominent representatives of science, culture, literature and art. It is home to academicians Mehti Mehtizade (1903-1984) and Ashraf Huseynov (1907-1981), three Corresponding Members of the National Academy of Sciences, scores of doctors and scholars, Soviet Union hero Jamil Ahmadov (1924-1944), seven heroes of Socialist labor, six national heroes of Azerbaijan, as well as a large number of skilled workers, writers, poets, journalists, etc.
The population of the region was mainly engaged in arable farming, cattle breeding, grape-growing and silk spinning. Several industrial and agricultural enterprises, different institutions and organizations were operating in the region. There were 72 schools, one vocational school, eight hospitals, dozens of aid stations, five mosques, and three music schools, 12 houses of culture, 32 clubs, 78 libraries and 129 historical monuments before the Armenian occupation.
As a result of the occupation of the Jabrayil region by the Armenian armed forces, its 61,100 residents are now dispersed over more than 2,000 residential areas spanning 58 settlements of the country; 3,420 families, i.e. 17,250 people, still live in tents, railway carriages, farms, and make-shift homes. Poor living conditions have caused the spread of diseases among the displaced people, which exacerbated the reduction of the birth rate and increased mortality, and all this has adversely affected the overall demography of the region.
The Gubadly region was occupied by Armenian armed forces on August 31, 1993. About 238 people were killed during the war. Before the Armenian aggression, Gubadly with 94 inhabited localities had the population of 34,000 people.
Gubadly, one of Azerbaijan`s most beautiful regions, is located in the southeast of the Karabakh plateau and covers the area of 826 square kilometers.
Established as an administrative entity in 1933, the district is located on Bazarchay River. It was joined to the Zangilan region in 1963 but regained the status of a separate district in 1964. Gubadly borders on Armenia over an area of 120 kilometers. Mountain forests cover an area of 13,200 hectares of the region.
Gubadly was famous with its cultural abundance. The Armenians devastated Gubadly Museum of History and Ethnography where more than 5,000 unique exhibits were displayed. The remarkable architectural monuments of the region were appropriated.
Among numerous historical monuments recognized by the government, the most ancient is a cave temple in the Gavur Valley (4th century). Other historical monuments include the Galali (5th century) and Goy Kala (5th century) fortresses in the village of Muradkhanli; Javanshir Fortress in the Yazi Plain; Imamzadeh tombs in the Gurjulu village (17th century); the Anabat monument in the Seytas village; and the Haji Badal bridge (19th century) in the Dondarli village. Aliguluushaghi and Khojamusakhli villages are noted for the Lalazar Bridge (1837). Notably, two tombs in the village of Damirchilar are remarkable in the architectural heritage of Azerbaijan.
There are a number of well-known personalities of Gubadly, the most prominent of them being Gachag Nabi (1854-1896), the leader of the 19th century peasant movement in Azerbaijan, and Hajar (1860-1914), who also played a significant role in the peasant movement and was a sister-in-arms of Gachag Nabi. The people created dastan (local epos), legends and songs praising the heroism of Gachag Nabi and Hajar. Their busts were set up in the town of Gubadly in 1982.
Other well-known personalities from Gubadly are Suleyman Rahimov (1900-1983), a writer and public figure, who played a great role in the development of Azerbaijani Soviet prose, and Ali Amiraslanov (1900-1962), a geologist and expert on non-ferrous metals widely recognized not only in the former Soviet Union, but also in Iran, Poland, Hungary, Romania, China and Sweden.
The population of the region, which is covered with mountainous forests and has two rivers -- Hakeri and Bazarchay, was mainly engaged in cattle breeding, silkworm breeding, grape and tobacco-growing. The region also had two wine preprocessing plants, an asphalt plant, a quarry and a marble shop.
The Armenians burned and looted 94 villages and settlements, 205 cultural and social facilities and 12 historical monuments in Gubadly. There were 36 secondary schools, 15 primary schools and seven kindergartens, 111 cultural and educational centers, 60 libraries, ten cultural houses, 28 clubs and six auto-clubs in the region with a population of 33,800.
After the occupation, the district`s population was displaced and subsequently scattered across five Azerbaijani regions.
The people of Gubadly, along with other Azerbaijani refugees, are firmly convinced that the day when their region and all our occupied territories will be liberated from the Armenian occupation and flourish again is very close.