By Gulgiz Dadashova
The Khojaly genocide committed by Armenian armed forces against Azerbaijani civilians during the 1990s war continues to gain wide international recognition and the Azerbaijani parliament seeks to express gratitude to those who recognized the massacre.
Parliament Speaker Ogtay Asadov made this proposal on Tuesday while addressing a plenary session of the legislature.
Asadov noted that work on recognition of the Khojaly genocide in the world continues and offered to send letters of gratitude to the parliaments which adopted resolutions recognizing the Khojaly genocide.
The worldwide recognition of the Khojaly genocide is the goal of the Justice for Khojaly campaign initiated by Vice President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Leyla Aliyeva. The campaign is aimed at raising international civil awareness on the humanitarian catastrophe inflicted upon innocent civilian victims of Khojaly Massacre perpetrated by Armenian armed forces.
So far, resolutions on the Khojaly tragedy have been passed in the parliaments of Turkey, Pakistan, Mexico, and Colombia, as well as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
This year, such resolutions were adopted in the parliaments of the Czech Republic, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as in the U.S. states of Arkansas, New Mexico, Texas, New Jersey, Georgia and Maine.
Azerbaijan and Armenia for over two decades have been locked in conflict, which emerged over Armenian territorial claims. Since the lengthy war in the early 1990s that displaced over one million Azerbaijanis, Armenian armed forces have occupied over 20 percent of Azerbaijan's internationally recognized territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions.
Russia, France and the U.S. - co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - have long been working to broker a solution of the conflict, but their efforts have been largely fruitless so far.
The town of Khojaly was situated within the administrative borders of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. Its population constituted over 7,000 people.
Late into the night of February 25, 1992, Khojaly came under intensive fire from the towns of Khankendi and Askeran already occupied by Armenian armed forces. 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 the Armenian forces. Punitive teams of the so-called Nagorno-Karabakh defense army reached the unprotected civilians to slaughter them, mutilating and scalping some of the bodies. 613 people were killed, including 106 women, 70 elderly and 83 children. A total of 1,000 civilians were disabled. Eight families were exterminated, and 25 children lost both parents, while 130 children lost one parent. Moreover, 1,275 innocent people were taken hostage, while the fate of 150 remains unknown.