Azerbaijan Marks 23rd Anniversary of Khojaly Genocide

Today Azerbaijan marks the 24rd anniversary of the genocide in Khojaly. On the night of 25 to 26 February 1992 the second most important town populated by Azerbaijanis in Nagorno-Karabakh was occupied by Armenian armed forces with the active participation of military personnel and equipment of the 366th infantry regiment of the Russian Army.

Today, with the participation of President Ilham Aliyev and other heads of state, government officials, members of parliament, civil society and the diplomatic corps there is a Remembrance commemoration ceremony at the Memorial to the victims of the Khojaly genocide in the Khatai district.

Traditionally, participants of the ceremony lay flowers by the sculpture "The Call of the Mother." On the pedestal of the monument are carved the names of all the victims.

The invaders captured the town and massacred hundreds of people, including women (some of which were pregnant), children and elderly. Destruction of the civilian population continued for a few days, when the cruel invaders chased people trying to reach Azeri positions in Agdam, executed and killed prisoners, raping women and children, and beheading and hanging captives.

In total they killed 613 civilians, including 83 children, 106 women and 70 old men. About a thousand people were disabled in varying degrees (including 76 minors) and 1,275 people were taken hostage. The fate of 150 of them is still not known. The horror of the Khojaly tragedy was filmed by local and foreign journalists on photo and video footage, and spread all over the world.

The names of the Armenian separatists and the Russian military officers who committed the crimes against humanity are known. All of them are still at large and live in Russia, Armenia and Karabakh.

As said the Military Prosecutor of Azerbaijan Khanlar Veliyev, on the genocide in Khojaly in search there have been declared 287 people.

Veliyev said in connection with the crimes of genocide and deportation implemented by Armenian armed forces against Azerbaijan since 1988, the Prosecutor's Office of Azerbaijan has three directions under investigation. "The first area concerns the crimes committed against Azerbaijani civilians in the Khojaly town, villages Meshali, Garadagly and other localities, the second concerns the crimes committed by Armenians on transport, including the subway and other places, and the third concerns the crimes related to prisoners and hostages. Until now, there have been revealed 2,089 people - perpetrators of these crimes," said Veliyev.

The Azerbaijani parliament repeatedly made a special statement calling on the international community, governments and parliaments of the world to recognize and condemn the genocide in Khojaly.

Each year, the Armenian side is trying to justify or downplay the significance of the crime. Attempts are made to explain the events in Khojaly as a result of the struggle for power and to blame the massacre on the Azerbaijani side. One reason for this is that the current leadership of Armenia is directly implicated in these crimes. Thus, the current and former President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan and Robert Kocharyan, were directly involved in the crime and Defense Minister, Seyran Ohanyan, commanded one of the divisions that captured Khojaly.

Numerous documentary evidence including photos and videos taken by local and foreign journalists and witnesses conclusively prove that the massacres took place in the town of Khojaly and the territories controlled by the Armenians (Askeran and Nakhchivanik). The savage torture of Khojaly people taken prisoner and hostage cannot be refuted either.

In violation of international conventions and rules of international humanitarian law, the prisoners were subjected to unprecedented atrocities. With their scalps, ears, noses and genitals cut off, as a "sacrifice" Azerbaijanis were beheaded over Armenian graves.

Every year the whole world knows more of the truth about the Khojaly genocide. Diaspora and numerous student organizations of Azerbaijanis around the world carry out actions to demand that the international community to recognize and condemn the genocide Khojaly. These actions involve more citizens of other states.

The Khojaly tragedy as a massacre and a crime against humanity was recognized by the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Czech Parliament, the state legislatures of nearly 20 states of the U.S.A., the Senate and House of Representatives of Mexico, the Committee of the Parliament of Pakistan and the Parliament of Honduras.

In recent years, representatives of the Russian Embassy in Baku have repeatedly appealed to Turan News Agency, demanding to remove the mention that the 366th regiment was Russian from articles on the Khojaly tragedy.

This pressure, being an attempt to falsify history, is also unwarranted interference in the activities of the media and violation of freedom of speech.

We hope that the Russian diplomats have realized that such attempts are doomed to failure. -02D-

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