The military aggression of Azerbaijan against the Nagorno Karabakh Republic was accompanied with many crimes against peaceful civilians. One of the most tragic episodes of Azerbaijani aggression against Nagorno Karabakh Republic was the massacre of the inhabitants of the Armenian village of Maragha1, in the Martakert region of the NKR which was unprecedented by its cruelty.
On April 10, 1992, Azerbaijani troops invaded the village after a long period of shelling. The small squad of local self-defence forces managed to evacuate most of the population. However, over 118 people, mainly elderly and disabled persons, women and children remained in the village. Most of them were murdered by the soldiers of the Azerbaijani army. Over 50 people2 (of which 30 were women) became the victims of this war crime.
The bodies of brutally murdered people of Maragha were dismembered, mutilated and burned, as witnessed by a member of the British House of Lords, the former Deputy Speaker of the House, human rights activist, Baroness Caroline Cox, who visited the village with a group of representatives of the ‘Christian Solidarity Worldwide’ organization right after the tragedy. Lady Cox called Maragha a ‘contemporary Golgotha many times over’.
Over 50 people including 9 children and 29 women were taken hostage. Subsequently, it became possible to rescue some of these people, including all the children, yet the fate of 19 hostages remains still unknown.
Two weeks later the village was attacked once again and the people who returned to bury their relatives became the victims of new atrocities of the Azerbaijani army.
The attack on the village was not a military necessity, it was primarily aimed at exterminating the civilian population. The crime in Maragha became the continuation of a series of massacres (pogroms) and deportations of Armenians in Sumgait, Baku, Kirovabad and other settlements in Azerbaijan, as well as in villages of Northern Artsakh from 1988 to 1991. These were intended to paralyse the national liberation movement of Armenians of Artsakh and to deprive them of their Homeland through ethnic cleansing and terror.
The impunity of the organizers and the perpetrators of those crimes contributed to enrooting the hatred against Armenians as a state policy and unbridled propaganda of xenophobia, intolerance and militarism in Azerbaijan.
1. Maragha is an urban-type settlement located in the Martakert region of NKR bordering the Terter region of Azerbaijan. According to the census in 1989, over 4660 people lived in Maragha. From April 1992 till the present day the village has been under occupation of the Azerbaijani army. Some of the refugees from Maragha settled in the village Nor Maragha (New Maragha).
2. Amnesty International. «Azerbaydzhan: Hostages in the Karabakh conflict: Civilians Continue to Pay the Price», April 1993 (POL 10/01/93), p.9.
Human Rights Watch/Helsinki (1994). «Azerbaijan: Seven years of conflict in Nagorno Karabakh». New York: Human Rights Watch. p.6. ISBN 1-56432-142-8.