Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the opening of the Guba genocide memorial established with the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation18 september 2013, 15:40
- Today we are gathered for the opening of the Guba genocide memorial. In March and July of 1918, the Armenian gangs committed an act of genocide against the civilian population almost on the entre territory of Azerbaijan. More than 50,000 of our fellow citizens became victims of Armenian fascism in a matter of five months. We were exposed to genocide in Baku, the Guba province, Shamakhi, Gusar, Erivan, Nakhchivan, Zangezur, Karabakh, Lankaran and practically on all Azerbaijani lands. I believe that the establishment of this memorial is a historic event. As you know, a mass grave was discovered here during excavation works in 2007. After that, scientists and experts were sent here to carry out important research. The research has revealed that thousands of our fellow compatriots were brutally and mercilessly killed by Armenian gangs. In late 2009, I signed a decree on the establishment of the Guba genocide memorial, and work began in 2011. Today we are opening the memorial.
I can say that such a memorial is being established in Azerbaijan for the first time. The complex has a very impressive design. Its architecture carries a great symbolic meaning. In other words, the exhibits demonstrated here are part of our history. At the same time, the exposition of the memorial is very meaningful. At the entrance to the complex there are images of a peaceful time of the Guba province. Families and people were leading a peaceful life. Then there are pictures of the bloody days and atrocities perpetrated against the civilians. I believe that thanks to the accurate design of the final section of the exposition people are leaving here with optimism because the liberation of Baku from Armenian gangs is somewhat the final accord of the exhibition.
Those killed here were representatives of different religions and ethnicities. Their only "fault" in the eyes of the Armenians was that they were not of Armenian nationality. In 1918, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic established a special investigation commission. The commission began to operate, but after the collapse of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic in 1920, it naturally ceased to exist. The work of the commission was left uncompleted. In addition, our capacity to convey information about the tragedy, about this massacre to the world was very limited.
The exhibition of the memorial also contains an Order on the genocide of Azerbaijanis signed by great leader Heydar Aliyev in 1998. It states that by a decision of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic a commission was set up and the work that was left uncompleted then would be completed by the independent state of Azerbaijan. And this act of genocide was given a legal and political assessment for the first time in 1998.
Of course, due to the fact that history was falsified in Soviet times, this was concealed from us. For many years, the thugs who shed the blood of the Azerbaijani people – their cursed names are indicated there, e.g. Shaumyan and others like him, were portrayed to us as heroes. I think this is a great tragedy. For many years, those who unleashed atrocities against our people were described in Soviet history as heroes and statues of them were erected in many places. Only in the years of independence did have restore justice. We have cleared our beautiful city, our Baku from these statues, and today there are beautiful parks, including the Sahil Park, in their place. In other words, history and justice have prevailed.
Today we go back to our history. We know and should know all aspects of our history. The younger generation also needs to know what disasters our nation was faced with in the past. Due to the fact that the Armenian fascism was not given a correct assessment at the time, it subsequently demonstrated its predatory nature at different periods of history.
The Armenian bandits who were at the disposal of Hitler during the Second World War are seen as heroes in Armenia.
There are monuments to them there. This shows that the ideology of the modern Armenian state is also based on fascism. I believe that Armenian fascism should be studied by Azerbaijani scientists more broadly. I believe that it is necessary to put in place major researches based on historical facts. I am glad that in recent years, including on my initiative, our scientists have created comprehensive and meaningful researches about the Erivan khanate, about our historical lands. We have to communicate this history to the younger generations. For example, the history of the proclamation of Erivan as the capital of Armenia was not known to many when we raised this issue and paid attention to it on the basis of historical facts. And everyone in Azerbaijan and the world already knows that Erivan was declared the capital of the Armenian state on the decision of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. Therefore, I think it is necessary to develop research papers reflecting the historical truth. Some of them have already been created but I believe that we should pay even more attention to this issue. I think that the issue of resettlement of Armenians to our historical lands is not sufficiently covered by Azerbaijani scientists. We all know that the Armenians were resettled to Nagorno-Karabakh, an integral part of Azerbaijan, from eastern Anatolia and Persia in the first half of the 19th century. They settled down and then resorted to their traditional provocations against the peaceful Azerbaijani population. So this historical parallel, the subsequent genocide in Baku, the Guba genocide, the crimes committed by Armenian fascism during the Second World War and further manifestations of Armenian fascism at the end of the 20th century should be widely studied by Azerbaijani historiographers and comprehensive researches prepared.
As I said, Armenian fascism manifested itself yet again in the late 1980s and early 1990s. We remember this history too well. Two weeks after great leader Heydar Aliyev was sidelined from his post in the Soviet leadership, Armenian nationalists raised the issue of separating Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan and annexing it to Armenia. The then Soviet leaders, primarily Gorbachev and Armenian nationalists from his entourage, committed heinous crimes against the Azerbaijani people. Gorbachev is directly responsible for the events of the Bloody January. The crimes committed against our people before and after that have been sufficiently studied in history. At that time, the factor of Heydar Aliyev tied the Armenians’ hands. In Soviet times up until 1969, the Armenians had repeatedly appealed to the Soviet government over the annexation of Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. Appeals were made even at the official level. But the determination and serious protests of Heydar Aliyev did not allow this to happen. Then the period of Heydar Aliyev’s work in the Soviet leadership began. At that time, the Armenians certainly had no opportunities for committing their provocations. But in November 1987, just two weeks after great leader Heydar Aliyev had left his post, this issue was raised again. We can actually say that this marked the start of another wave of genocide against the Azerbaijanis. Provocations were committed, a false and distorted view on this issue was created in Soviet and international media. As a result, the Khojaly genocide was perpetrated in 1992. Those who committed the Khojaly genocide are represented in the Armenian leadership today. This tragedy occurred in front of the whole world. In other words, we are seeing it not as some sort of a myth, such as the totally unfounded myth of the "Armenian genocide", but on the basis of real facts.
Videos, photos and testimonies of eye-witnesses – this is the truth and reality. But for some reason certain people don’t want to see this, while others try to portray Armenians as victims. Of course, there is a reason for that. The world’s Armenian lobby and some hypocritical and corrupt politicians under its control have completely distorted history in an effort to put the blame on Azerbaijan. This injustice continues to this day. In the Khojaly genocide the Armenians massacred 613 innocent people. Whereas our fellow citizens resting here were killed with blunt objects, in Khojaly our countrymen were slain with machine guns and grenades. Hundreds of people went missing. The Armenians killed 63 children and 106 women in Khojaly. This is unprecedented brutality.
Today, the Azerbaijani state and the public organizations operating in Azerbaijan, primarily the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, are doing a great job for the recognition of the Khojaly genocide as an act of genocide in the world. I want to highlight the activities of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation in the establishment of the Guba genocide memorial. The Heydar Aliyev Foundation, our Diaspora organizations and, of course, the government of Azerbaijan are gradually achieving the goals by unfolding and successfully continuing the "Justice for Khojaly" campaign. Several countries have already officially recognized the Khojaly genocide as an act of genocide, and this process continues.
To protect ourselves from such tragedies in the future, the Armenian fascism must be given a deserved assessment in the world. Unfortunately, the injustice continues to this day. I remember how many unfounded accusations were made against me for returning to the homeland and releasing Azerbaijani officer Ramil Safarov, how many attacks were made on me by hypocritical foreign politicians. The European Parliament even adopted a resolution on the issue and condemned my steps. But I can say with full determination today that Azerbaijan returned and freed its officer and restored justice. But look how many unfounded allegations there have been in the world media and various international organizations.
Of course, these attacks could not have any effect. No force can influence the will and decisions of the Azerbaijan state.
We have restored justice and will not deviate from our policy in the future. But why aren’t those who extensively ranted on the subject seeing the monuments to fascists in Armenia? Why are Armenian terrorists who have committed acts of terrorism, including in Europe, released and extradited to Armenia where they are treated as heroes? Why don’t they see that? How much longer will this injustice continue? How much longer will this occupation last? Our internationally recognized lands have been under occupation for about 20 years.
Nagorno-Karabakh is native Azerbaijani land. When Azerbaijan became a member of the UN, it was doing so as a single state. Not a single state questions our territorial integrity. Why do four UN Security Council resolutions remain unfulfilled?
All these questions remain unanswered. We know the answers to them. We know why the issue remains unresolved and openly declare that. But these issues should not hang in the air. This injustice must stop.
Our lands are under occupation, our historical monuments and mosques have been destroyed, our museums have been looted, our cities have been razed to the ground. This memorial has images of Shamakhi. There are pictures of one of the oldest mosques in the ancient Muslim world – the Shamakhi mosque in a dilapidated condition. In May of this year, we restored the Shamakhi Juma Mosque, which was built in 743. Today, the mosque is open to believers again.
There has been an act of genocide. All historical monuments have been destroyed. The photographs of the destroyed Shamakhi are repeated today. Agdam, Fizuli and Shusha are in this state today, and this has been done by Armenians.
Those who have done this are trying to present themselves as a cultured nation. But those who did it have only one name – savages! There is no other name for them.
Unfortunately, international law does not work. The decisions of international organizations remain on paper and injustice continues. Under such circumstances, the strengthening Azerbaijani state must and does rely on its own strength. Just as it is reflected in the final section of the memorial exhibition, as a result of the activities of the Caucasian Islamic Army 95 years ago and the fights that took place with local forces, Baku was cleared from the Armenians. If the rules of international law can’t be restored and Armenia continues its aggressive policy, there will come a time when our army will have its final word. Today we have the power to do that.
Today, the Azerbaijani army is the strongest army in the region, in the South Caucasus. Today, Azerbaijan has fully used the opportunities created in the years of independence. Whereas at the time when we gained independence there was economic and military parity between Armenia and Azerbaijan, there is no parity now. Over the past ten years we have come a long way. Ten years ago, the state budgets of Armenia and Azerbaijan were at the same level. Today, our state budget is almost 10 times higher than that of Armenia. Our military spending alone is about 30-50 per cent higher than the entire state budget of Armenia. We have a great advantage in all other parameters – in the economic and political spheres, in terms of the role we play in the world. Today, Azerbaijan is a member of the UN Security Council and enjoys strong support of the international community. We have reached space. We have a satellite. Our economic development is very rapid, including here in the Guba-Gusar zone where a lot has been done in recent years. Our cities and villages are improving and investments are made. The demographic situation is very positive. Our population is now around 9.5 million people.
So all of these factors confirm our strength and are a result of a deliberate policy. Armenia’s actions and statements explicitly show that it can’t provide for his own security. We have long known this. I believe that all the parties involved with the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict know this. But today Armenia is forced to admit that. It has to admit how helpless and powerless it is and that it lives in fear. I once said that the Armenian people should not be afraid of us, they should be afraid of their own leadership. They should be afraid of the bloodthirsty, predatory and criminal leadership that is massacring and gunning down its own people. The longer the current leadership of Armenia stays in power, the sooner Armenia will finally collapse and the historical justice will be restored. I am absolutely sure that Azerbaijan will restore its territorial integrity. This is confirmed by all the factors – the balance of powers, the international, economic and military factors. Time is passing. We simply want it to happen soon. But it has to happen comprehensively and completely. The territorial integrity of Azerbaijan must be restored in full, the national flag of Azerbaijan must be raised in Shusha and Khankandi, and the Azerbaijanis should live on all of their historical lands in the future. Our historical lands are the Erivan khanate, the Goycha and Zangezur Mahals. The time will come when we will live there. I believe in and am sure of that. To achieve this, each of us has to make an effort. Each of us has to do his bit to approach this sacred day.
It is a historic day today. I want to say again that the establishment of the Guba genocide memorial carries a historic meaning. Such a memorial is created in Azerbaijan for the first time, and this memory will always live in our hearts.
May God bless the souls of all our martyrs!
Local resident Isa Shirinov, the chairman of the Community of Mountain Jews, Boris Simanduyev, and Gusar District resident Gorkhmaz Muradov expressed their gratitude to the President of Azerbaijan.
Then, President Ilham Aliyev and his wife Mehriban Aliyeva planted a tree in memory of the victims of the genocide.