By Sabina Idayatova
Azerbaijanis living abroad are honoring the memory of the victims of the Armenian-committed Khojaly genocide -- one of the most heinous and bloodiest massacres of the 20th century.
One of such commemoration events for the victims of Khojaly massacre, which was perpetrated during the Karabakh war fought by Armenia and Azerbaijan in the early 1990s, was organized by the Azerbaijanian American Cultural Alliance (AACA) at the Turkish Cultural Center in Houston, the largest city in the US state of Texas.
The event was attended by representative of the Texas House of Representatives Gene Wu, Vice Consul of the Consulate General of Turkey Kenan Aga, Counselor of the Azerbaijani Embassy Mammad Talibov, Co-founder of the U.S. Azeris Network (USAN) Yusif Babanly, members of the Azerbaijani community in Texas and Michigan, and the Turkish community of Houston.
Speaking about the despicable act of terror committed by Armenian armed forces in Khojaly on February 25-26, 1992, Yusif Babanly thanked the congressman for paying tribute to the victims of the massacre.
Rep. Wu delivered a speech expressing his sorrow for the lives of the innocent Azerbaijani civilians lost during the Armenian ethnic cleansing campaign. Wu presented the resolution recognizing Khojaly Massacre.
"I hope that by this resolution we are paying respects to the victims of Khojaly Massacre and saving mankind from similar tragedies in the future," Wu stated.
Counselor Talibov, for his part, thanked Rep. Wu for honoring the Khojaly victims.
Speaking about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the subsequent occupation of Azerbaijani lands, Talibov underlined the importance of strategic relations and mutual understanding between the United States and Azerbaijan.
Addressing the event, Vice Consul Aga also expressed condolences on behalf of the Turkish government to the victims of Khojaly massacre and said Turkey has always stood by its brethren in Azerbaijan.
AACA head Ismayil Ahmedov thanked all dignitaries for their tributes to the victims of the massacre.
Also, the victims of the Khojaly genocide were commemorated in an event organized by the Turkish-Azerbaijani Union in Germany and Azerbaijan's embassy in this country. The event was held at the Turkish House in Berlin and was attended by Azerbaijani MPs Ganira Pashayeva and Rovshan Rzayev, as well as historian Maharram Zulfugarli.
Executive Director of the Coordination Center for Azerbaijanis in Germany Samira Patzer Ismayilova, in her remarks at the event provided information about the activities to have the Khojaly genocide recognized by the German public.
In turn, Chairman of the Ataturk Thought Association Olcay Bashegmez expressed regret that the Nagorno-Karabakh problem remains unresolved. According to him, some countries' reluctance to achieve a solution of the conflict plays a major role in this.
In his remarks, Azerbaijani Ambassador Parviz Shahbazov said that commemoration ceremonies have been held in 30 cities of Germany.
Speaking at the event, Turkey's Consul General in Berlin Ahmad Bashar Shen said the Khojaly genocide is a source of grief for both the Turkish and Azerbaijani communities.
He said injustice to the people of Azerbaijan saddens the Turkish people and Turkey shares Azerbaijan's sorrow.
Afterwards, a documentary on the Khojaly massacre was shown to the participants.
Also, a rally has been held in the city of Bielefeld in Germany over the 21st anniversary of the Khojaly massacre.
The participants demanded punishment of those who committed the Khojaly genocide, particularly organizers of the massacre - Serzh Sargsyan, Gukasyan, Zori Balayan and Robert Khocharyan. The demonstrators shouted slogans such as "Freedom to Karabakh" and "Justice for Khojaly."
Another event to commemorate the Khojaly tragedy victims was co-organized in Magdeburg by the Azerbaijani Embassy, Odlar Yurdu (Land of Fire) organization and Germany-Azerbaijan Cultural Society operating in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt.
The event brought together representatives of German, Russian, Bulgarian and Polish communities.
Head of the Germany-Azerbaijan Cultural Society Yashar Niftaliyev, addressing the event, highlighted the bloodshed committed by the Armenians in Khojaly in 1992.
Azerbaijani MP Rovshan Rzayev and author of the book on the 20th anniversary of Khojaly tragedy Rolf Kunsh spoke about the crimes committed by the Armenians against the Azerbaijani people.
Besides, the Azerbaijani Students and Alumni International Forum (ASAIF) and Azerbaijani youngsters studying in London organized a march in London on the Khojaly tragedy anniversary.
Scores of people, including Azerbaijani and foreign students from numerous British universities, participated in the march. They carried placards condemning Armenia`s aggressive policy against Azerbaijan and demanded punishment of those responsible for the massacre.
They stated that the Khojaly genocide must be given due political and legal assessment and chanted slogans such as "Justice for Khojaly", "We want justice", "We want peace", and "Sargsyan is a terrorist."
The march, which started on Trafalgar Square, continued with a rally in front of the British parliament. The event participants were handed over brochures on the Khojaly tragedy.
Another rally was organized on a square near the Montmartre hill in Paris by the House of Azerbaijan functioning in France. Hundreds of Azerbaijanis carrying flags of Azerbaijan and France as well as placards chanted slogans condemning the atrocities committed by the Armenians against the innocent people of Khojaly.
Head of the House of Azerbaijan Mirvari Fataliyeva read out a message on the Khojaly tragedy to French officials. The message said that on February 26, 1992 Armenian armed forces with the help of a former USSR regiment committed a massacre against innocent people in Khojaly, killing numerous women, children and elderly people and taking thousands of civilians hostage. Human Rights Watch described the Khojaly tragedy as the largest massacre to date in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.
The rally participants were handed over brochures on the Khojaly genocide and balloons with the names of children who lost their lives during the carnage were released.
Moreover, a commemorative event on the Khojaly massacre anniversary was arranged at the Azerbaijani Embassy in China. The event was attended by representatives of the local public and Azerbaijanis living in China.
Ambassador Latif Gandilov briefed the event participants on the history of the tragedy and then the participants watched a documentary on the Khojaly massacre.
An exhibition featuring materials prepared by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, photos, CDs, books and booklets from the series "Karabakh truths" and works from "Khojaly tragedy through the eyes of children" was organized at the Embassy.
Also, a mass rally was organized by the Swedish Azerbaijanis Congress in downtown Stockholm with the support of the Azerbaijani Embassy.
The participants of the rally including representatives of the Azerbaijan-Sweden Federation, Turkish and Uygur communities adopted a resolution on the recognition of the Khojaly massacre as genocide to be submitted to the Swedish parliament.
The Azerbaijani Academic Union staged a mass rally on the occasion of the Khojaly anniversary in the Stephan Square in Vienna.
The Union organized a display of brochures, books on the Khojaly genocide and Nagorno-Karabakh conflict at the square. Students informed those walking through the square about the causes and consequences of the conflict.
Late into the night of February 25, 1992, the town of Khojaly came under intensive fire from the town of Khankendi and Askeran already occupied by Armenian armed forces. At night the Armenian forces supported by the ex-Soviet 366th regiment completed the surrounding of the town already isolated due to ethnic cleansing of the Azerbaijani population of the neighboring regions. The joint forces occupied the town, which was ruined by heavy artillery shelling.
Thousands of fleeing civilians were ambushed by Armenian forces. Punitive teams of the so-called Nagorno Karabakh defense army reached the unprotected civilians to slaughter them, mutilating and scalping some bodies. In just a few hours, 613 civilians were killed, including 106 women, 70 elderly and 83 children. A total of 1,000 civilians were disabled. 56 people were killed with outrageous brutality, eight families were totally exterminated, and 25 children lost both parents, while 130 children lost one parent, in what became the most brutal punishment of civilians during the three years of the conflict's military phase. Moreover, 1,275 innocent people were taken hostage, while the fate of 150 remains unknown.