A nationwide rally marking the 20th anniversary of one of the most heinous and bloodiest tragedies of the 20th century, the Khojaly massacre, has been held in Baku.
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has joined the rally.
The nationwide march, which began in Azadlig Square, was joined by over 60,000 people who had gathered to pay tribute to the victims of the Khojaly tragedy and draw the world's attention to this crime against humanity committed by Armenian fascists again.
The rally, with President Ilham Aliyev in the front row, proceeded from Azadlig Square to the memorial for the victims of the Khojaly genocide in the Khatai district of Baku. Young people holding the portraits of the innocent victims of the carnage lined up the streets and avenues through which thousands of people rallied. There were pictures of children, women and the elderly killed with particular cruelty, photos documenting the horrific scenes of the events 20 years ago, banners demanding that perpetrators of the tragedy be brought to justice, that an objective political and legal assessment of what has happened be given at the international level, those containing names of the victims of genocide, saying “The world must recognize the Khojaly genocide”, “Justice for Khojaly”, “Do not forget Khojaly”, “No to Armenian fascism!”, etc. Banners and posters of similar content were held in the hands of the procession.
People’s faces were full of grief, suggesting that 20 years have not erased the horrors of the Khojaly massacre from memory.
The name of this Azerbaijani town razed to the ground in one night now stands in the same row as Khatyn, Lidice and My Lai.
In general, this nationwide rally can be considered the culmination of extensive work Azerbaijan has carried out to inform the world about Khojaly, to send the message that indifference to the barbarism committed in the late 20th century right before the eyes of the civilized mankind, the impunity of those responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent people could lead to a repetition of such tragedies anywhere in the world. The march was also a demonstration of the close unity of the Azerbaijani people, its respect for the memory of its martyrs, a determination to do everything for the liberation of occupied Azerbaijani lands and the restoration of territorial integrity.
A guard of honor line up at the memorial for the victims of the Khojaly genocide and flowers were laid.
President Ilham Aliyev laid a wreath at the memorial and paid tribute to the victims of the Khojaly genocide.
Flowers were also laid by Prime Minister Artur Rasizadeh, Speaker of the Milli Mejlis Ogtay Asadov, Head of the Presidential Administration Ramiz Mehdiyev, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva Aliyev and Vice President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Leyla Aliyeva.
Tributes were also paid by state and government officials, MPs, ministers, heads of committees and companies, diplomats, heads of religious communities, as well as the inhabitants of Khojaly who had managed to escape the carnage.
The nationwide rally remembered the victims of genocide. Participants chanted “Justice for Khojaly”, “Do not forget Khojaly”, “Khojaly – genocide of the century”.
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The horrible events committed by the Armenians in the town of Khojaly in Nagorno-Karabakh on the night from 25 to 26 February 1992 will be forever inscribed in Azerbaijani history in letters of blood. On that night, armed Armenian units with the help of the heavy equipment and personnel of the 366th motorized rifle regiment of the former Soviet army stationed in Khankandi attacked this ancient Azerbaijani town and unleashed a merciless massacre on local civilians. Khojaly had been weakened by months of siege and the forces of the few defenders of the town and of the heavily armed Armenian militants were far from equal. The bloody statistics of the Khojaly genocide is as follows: of the 3,000 people who were in the town at the time 613 people, including 106 women, 63 children and 70 elderly people, were killed with particular cruelty, 487 people, including 76 children, were seriously injured, 1,275 people were taken hostage and subjected to humiliation and inhuman torture, the fates of 150 of them are still unknown. Eight families were completely annihilated. Even impartial figures are horrifying. These people were ruthlessly killed, subjected to torture and maimed just because of their ethnicity – because they were Azerbaijanis.
The punitive action of the Armenians was carefully planned and carried out with a single purpose – to partly or completely destroy innocent people on a national basis. Under international law, these actions fall under the definition of “genocide” and must be recognized as such by the international community.
As highlighted in President Ilham Aliyev’s address to the people of Azerbaijan on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the tragedy, the Khojaly genocide, which occurred in the late 20th century right before the eyes of the entire world, was distinguished for particular brutality and ruthlessness. It has become the bloodiest page in the aggressive policies of Armenian nationalists. “The political and legal responsibility for this grave crime rests directly on the then and current leaders of Armenia, the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh regime,” says the address of the President.
The government of Azerbaijan has been taking all the necessary steps to inform the world about the Khojaly tragedy and have it recognized as an act of genocide against our people. Specific activities in this area were launched after the return of Heydar Aliyev to political power in Azerbaijan. It was at the initiative of the great leader that a political and legal assessment was given to the Khojaly tragedy and 26 February was declared the Day of the Khojaly genocide. Initiated by the Vice President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and the Senior Coordinator for Intercultural Dialogue of the Islamic Conference Youth Forum, Leyla Aliyeva, the “Justice for Khojaly” international campaign has further expanded outreach in this area.
Thanks to the work carried out as part of this campaign, the terrible facts of the tragedy of 20 years ago were made available to the world public, millions of people all over the world have discovered the true face of Armenian nationalists who, in an effort to implement their delusions, descend to anything, including the murder of children. The Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has recognized this fact as “a massive crime against humanity” and urged its member-states to give an appropriate political and legal assessment to this tragedy. The parliaments of Pakistan and Mexico have passed resolutions recognizing this massacre as an act of genocide.
This year, with support from the Heydar Aliyev Foundations, actions in memory of the victims of the Khojaly genocide are held in 100 cities around the world. Those participating in them are handed out the Fund’s booklets, photo albums and books on the history of Karabakh and the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.
As part of the campaigns, documentary films revealing Armenian atrocities are demonstrated, exhibitions of children's drawings organized, etc. The activities conducted in fraternal Turkey, Britain and several other European and Muslim countries have aroused a great deal of interest.
“By perpetrating the Khojaly genocide, the enemy had intended to break the will of the Azerbaijani people, to force us to abandon the struggle for our sovereignty and territorial integrity and to forcibly seize our lands. But this horrendous tragedy has made our nation even more persistent, mobilized our heroic sons and daughters for a decisive and organized fight in name of the sacred Motherland and national statehood,” says the address of President Ilham Aliyev to the people of Azerbaijan.
The head of state expressed his confidence that sooner or later those who perpetrated the Khojaly genocide will be brought to book and suffer condign punishment. The blood of our martyrs will be avenged.
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For the entire day on 26 February, hundreds of thousands of people came to the Khojaly memorial to lay flowers and read prayers for the repose of martyrs’ souls. All of them expressed hope that Azerbaijan’s fair voice will be heard, that Armenian atrocities will be subject to censure at the international level and that perpetrators of the Khojaly massacre will suffer a just punishment. They also expressed confidence that Azerbaijani people will soon liberate the occupied lands and restore the country's territorial integrity.