COMMENTARY OF THE NKR MFA INFORMATION DEPARTMENT
In late April - early May 1991, special police detachments (OMON) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Azerbaijan, with the support of the USSR Interior Ministry’s troops, launched a large-scale punitive operation of Ring, the essence of which was to exile the Armenian population of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast, the Shahumian region, and some regions of Northern Artsakh (the Khanlar, Dashkesan, Kedabek, and Shamkhor regions of the former Azerbaijani SSR).
As a result of this operation, dozens of Armenian settlements were completely devastated, destroyed or populated by Azerbaijanis. Tens of thousands of people were deported, hundreds were killed. It was the operation of Ring characterized by unprecedented cruelty and mass human rights violations that dramatically increased the level of tension in the region and transferred the Karabakh conflict to a military plane.
The report of the CSCE Mission of February 28, 1992 noted that "particularly serious escalation took place in April-May 1991 when the Soviet Army, with the support of the Azerbaijani Interior Ministry’s units, deported Armenians from many villages of the region. The deportation was carried out with extreme cruelty".
The events, which took place during the operation of Ring, were reflected in the documents of some international organizations, became a subject of hearings at the Human Rights Committee of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation and got the corresponding assessment in the resolutions of the European Parliament and the U.S. Senate.
The Human Rights Center of Memorial Moscow Association stated gross violations of the basic human rights: "They grossly violated the right of every person to life, liberty, and security; they used tortures, carried out arbitrary arrests and detentions and committed numerous property offenses. The practice of people’s deportation acquired a mass character. Particularly cynical these violations were made by the fact that the mass violence against the civilians was committed by the law enforcement agencies. The responsibility for this rests with the top leadership of the Azerbaijani Republic, Azerbaijan's Interior Ministry and Committee for State Security (KGB), as well as with the leadership of the USSR Interior Ministry, Ministry of Defense and the Command of the USSR MIA Interior Troops. These crimes cast a shadow also on the top leadership of the USSR”.
On May 1, 1991, the U.S. Senate unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the crimes committed by the authorities of the USSR and Azerbaijan against the Armenian population. The resolution, in particular, condemned "the attacks on innocent men, women and children in Nagorno-Karabakh, in the adjacent Armenian settlements and in Armenia; the large-scale use of military force and firing of the unarmed population on the eastern and southern borders of Armenia", as well as contained calls “to put an end to the blockades and other forms of force and the terror against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh".
On May 25, a draft statement on the situation in some regions of Armenia and Azerbaijan was submitted to the session of the Fourth Congress of People's Deputies of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) for consideration and was approved by the overwhelming majority of votes. The statement, in particular, noted that "in accordance with the internationally accepted norms and conventions on human rights, the deportation of civilians must be immediately stopped, the hostages must be freed, and the suspects on cases of armed clashes must be transferred to the prosecution of the USSR Prosecutor’s Office".
However, the crimes committed during the operation of Ring haven’t got the proper political and legal assessment by the international community and their organizers and executors are still unpunished. This became a precedent for new military crimes and inhumane actions by Azerbaijan against the peaceful Armenian population.
The deported residents are still unable to return to their homes and they haven't received any reimbursement so far.
Unfortunately, we also have to state that the Armenian villages deported during the operation of Ring are not mentioned in any of the documents proposed by the international mediators for the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict settlement.
Commentary of the NKR MFA Information Department
On February 26-29, 1988, with the actual support of the Azerbaijani authorities and the connivance of the Soviet leadership, a massacre of Armenians was carried out in the city of Sumgait, the Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic, which shocked the international community with its savagery and brutality.
The Sumgait massacre of Armenians was committed in response to the Karabakh people's legitimate expression of will for reunification with Armenia and became the embodiment of the Azerbaijani authorities' policy of hatred towards Armenians conducted during the entire Soviet period. The mass pogroms of Armenians in 'international' Sumgait were intended to block a possible solution to the issue, to frighten the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh with the prospects of new bloody actions and to make them abandon their national-liberation movement. Dozens of people were killed with sadistic cruelty; a considerable part of them was burned alive after having been beaten, tortured, and violated. Hundreds of people were disabled for life and thousands became refugees...
"After Stalin's atrocities nothing took place in our country to throw us so far back - from civilization to savagery", wrote those days scientists from Moscow in their “Open letter to the friends in Armenia”.
The massacre of Armenians in Sumgait was thoroughly organized, including from the ideological and psychological points of view. At the anti-Armenian gathering-like rallies, which started on February 26 in the central square, the municipal leaders openly called upon the participants for violence against the Armenians.
On February 27, the ‘rallies’ escalated into acts of violence. The first 'rally' in front of the building of the Sumgait City Party Committee was attended by about 50 people; the next day, the number of participants grew to several thousands. In her speech, Second Secretary of the City Party Committee Melek Bairamova demanded that Armenians left Azerbaijan; Azerbaijani poet Khydyr Alovlu concluded his speech by saying: "Death to Armenians!"
In addition to the city leadership, representatives of the law enforcement agencies were on the tribune, and it wasn't accidental that unprecedented facts of inaction and heartlessness of the Interior employees were fixed during the pogroms.
Following is a fragment from the indictment on criminal case 18/60233 on accusation of Akhmed Imani ogly Akhmedov, Ilham Azat ogly Ismailov, and Yavar Giyas ogly Jafarov: “Answering the question of lawyer Shaposhnikova "Why did you not call your father, who was in service then, to tell him about what was happening in your block?", witness D. Zarbaliev (the witness' father worked in the militia in Sumgait) said: "And why did I need to call? The militia knew about it; everybody knew about it. It was not the first day of the pogroms".
An open atmosphere of mass psychosis and hysteria was formed at the 'rallies'. Those on the tribunes called upon the rally participants to be true to the credit of the Muslims and to unite in a war against the 'infidels'. The thugs were inflamed by, actually, fascist appeals, heated by alcohol, which was distributed freely out of trucks, and drugged; convinced of their own impunity, they continued with renewed impetus the pogroms of Armenians' apartments, their mass beating and killing, which lasted until late at night. The crowd was headed by none other than First Secretary of the Sumgait City Committee of the Communist Party Jahangir Muslimzade, with the national flag of Azerbaijan in his hands. The gangs were headed also by some prominent people in Sumgait – the director of secondary school #25, an actress of the Arablinsky Theater, and others.
“In peacetime, the Soviet Union had never experienced what happened then. Gangs of about ten to fifty or more people strolled through the city, broke windows, burned cars, but the main thing was that they were looking for Armenians", wrote Rodina (Motherland) magazine (# 4, 1994, pp. 82-90).
On February 28, the number of thugs armed with iron bars, axes, hammers, and other improvised means considerably increased. The crowd clearly knew its tasks. The pogrom-makers, who were divided into groups, broke into Armenians’ apartments and killed the people in their own homes; but more often they took them out in the street or in the yard for making a public mock of them. After painful humiliation, the victims were poured with petrol and burned alive.
Following is a fragment from Hasan Mamedov’s testimony (record of a judicial hearing, Moscow, USSR, the Supreme Court, October 18 - November 18, 1988):
“I saw that a middle-aged man was brought out of the entrance and beaten, mostly from behind… He was lying about three meters from me. A fire was burning nearby. Nizami Mageramov took the guy's legs and Fizuli Fataliyev took his hands; they lifted the guy off the ground and threw him into the fire. His body turned out to be in the fire and his legs were out of it. I saw it clearly, as it was light. The guy thrown into the fire still showed signs of life. I determined this, seeing how he was trying to roll out of the fire. But, a guy in a black jacket and jeans was holding the guy down in the fire with a piece of reinforcement rod, preventing him from rolling out of the fire..."
Only on February 29 military forces were brought into the city of Sumgait, but they did not immediately establish control over the city. The killings and pogroms of Armenians were going on. Only in the evening the military units started taking decisive actions. The central authorities were not interested in establishing the exact number of victims in the Sumgait bacchanalia. Officially, 36 Armenian and 6 Azerbaijani deceased persons were stated...
The fact that the Genocide of the Armenian population of Sumgait was planned in advance and was not a spontaneous action of a group of hooligans, as the Soviet authorities and judicial agencies tried to present it, is testified by some irrefutable facts: production of cold arms for the pogroms at the industrial enterprises of the city; making lists of the Armenians living in the city with the aim of their killing; the authorities’ inaction; speeches of specially trained provokers at the rallies for manipulating the crowd; the local militia’s assistance to the thugs; disconnecting the phones in the Armenians’ apartments; cutting off the electricity supply in the blocks where the pogroms were going on; accurate coordination of the gangs’ actions; providing the thugs with reinforcement rods, pipe scraps, rocks and bottles with gasoline and alcohol; blocking the entrances to the city by armed groups; lack of any assistance to the victims by medical workers of the city; removal of the crimes' traces (hasty repair of the smashed shops, apartments, and other facilities), and hiding the organizers and many executors of the Genocide from the justice.
Following is a fragment from the indictment on criminal case 18/60233 on accusation of Akhmed Imani ogly Akhmedov, Ilham Azat ogly Ismailov, Yavar Giyas ogly Jafarov: Witness M. Ilyasov, Russian: “From the window of my apartment I saw a GAS-24 black car to drive up to our block. This car was approached by two men out of the crowd... Without leaving the car, the men sitting in it said something to those who had come up to them, and they immediately went back into the crowd. After that, the pogroms started with renewed fury... I think they fixed in advance the addresses of the Armenians. I came to this conclusion, because the killers entered accurately the entrances where the Armenians lived...
All this was not an act of hooliganism; it was an action against a particular nation, against the Armenians. It was not against the Russians or some other nations, it was against the Armenians; they were looking for only Armenians”.
“Witness S. Guliyev said at the hearing: "Those people were gathered together more than one day, as it is impossible to gather thousands of people in one day."
"Witness M. Mamedov: "The megaphone-holder (Ahmed Ahmedov) announced that the crowd did not need to smash the apartments, as they would remain to them, they only needed to kill the Armenians".
“Witness T. Tahmazov, apartment block manager: "Representative of the Azerbaijani Communist Party Central Committee Ganifaeva instructed the rally participants to burn all the smashed things and cover them with ground. They did so, and very quickly. The next morning, the City Executive Committee sent repair and construction teams to block 412 'a' for removing the bodies and the smashed things".
Sumgait Communist newspaper (#57, May 13, 1988) wrote: "In the days of the heavy situation, axes, knives, and other items that could be used by hooligan elements were made in the shop of the factory (tube-rolling)”.
It is quite obvious that some persons, who were not identified as a result of the investigation, had created favorable conditions for carrying out the mass massacre of Armenians.
On February 29, 1988, a session of the Politburo of the USSR Communist Party Central Committee took place in the Kremlin, at which it was stated for the first time officially, though classified as ‘top secret’, that the mass pogroms and massacre had been carried out in Sumgait on an ethnic basis, that is exclusively against Armenians. However, the USSR official structures were quick to taboo the topic of ‘Sumgait’, artificially dividing the mass slaughter of Armenians into separate crimes. The crimes, which, according to the International Convention on Genocide, must be assessed as crimes against the humanity, were classified as crimes committed out of 'hooliganism motives'. In other words, the committed Genocide was veiled, and its organizers were defended at the official level.
In particular, employees of the municipal and law enforcement agencies remained unpunished, though many witnesses stated some well-known persons in the city, who were directly involved in the 'rallies'. Moreover, Sumgait Prosecutor Ismet Gaibov, less than a year after the massacre of Armenians in the city, where he ‘carried out’ the control over law and order, was... appointed Prosecutor General of Azerbaijan. Only the Communist leader of Sumgait Muslimzade was dismissed from his position, though he wasn't either brought to justice. It is rather because at the next plenary session of the Azerbaijani Communist Party Central Committee well-informed Muslimzade directly accused the Republic's leadership of organizing the massacre: “On May 21, 1988, at the plenary session of the Azerbaijani SSR Communist Party Central Committee, the former First Secretary of the Sumgait City Committee of the Communist Party blamed also the Republic’s leaders for the tragic events in Sumgait. The day before, he stated considerable details of this at the Bureau of the Azerbaijani Communist Party Central Committee, when his personal responsibility was discussed, what can be found in the verbatim records" (the Epoch , # 4, September 13, 1990).
Unfortunately, the February 27-29 pogroms in Sumgait, organized at the highest state level, are not given yet an adequate political and legal assessment, and the Moscow trial did not become the Nuremberg trial, because the roots of the mass crimes were not identified.
The policy of silence related to the Genocide in Sumgait, concealment of the reasons, which gave rise to it, and leaving its real organizers unpunished made possible the ethnic cleansing carried out by the Azerbaijani SSR authorities throughout the Republic, which culminated in the January 1990 bloody bacchanalia in the Republic’s capital city of Baku and led to further large-scale military aggression against the people of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
Meanwhile, the truth about Sumgait, like the materials of the Nuremberg trial, is needed to the people for preventing a new ‘brown plague’.
“KHOJALU” IS A SPECULATIVE POLITICAL CAPITAL FOR OFFICIAL BAKU
Azerbaijan has started its traditional anti-Armenian campaign related to the 1992 events in the settlement of Khojalu - a village in the territory of Nagorno Karabakh, which, in 1988-1990, was intensively populated by the Azerbaijani SSR authorities, in particular, with Meskhetian Turks from the Fergana valley of Uzbekistan, to give it the status of a town. The official propaganda doesn't disdain any means to make the Armenian party guilty of the tragedy and inject a new portion of hatred towards Armenians into the conscious of the international community and in the thought of its own people.
On February 25-26, 1992, the authorities of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic organized a military operation for lifting the blockade off the airport near the settlement of Khojalu and for neutralizing the enemy’s fire points just in Khojalu, from where, since the spring of 1991, the NKR settlements had been periodically attacked by the Azerbaijani OMON (Special Purpose Militia Detachments) groups and systematically shelled from Alazan, Crystal, and Grad rocket volley fire facilities. In the period before the neutralization of the fire points in Khojalu, over 20 Armenian civilians were killed and hundreds were kidnapped, cattle and small cattle numbered in thousands were driven away from the nearby collective and private farms.
Due to the lasting blockade, the inflow of a great number of refugees, the lack of fuel, the forced stagnation of enterprises, the siege of the inter-regional roads and others, the situation in the NKR, and especially in its capital town of Stepanakert, worsened with the passage of time, the food products, medicines, and fuel were exhausted, and so lifting the blockade off the airport and neutralizing the enemy's fire points in Khojalu became a matter of life-and-death for the population of Nagorno Karabakh, which Azerbaijan tried to subject to death.
The necessity of neutralizing the military base in Khojalu was, in particular, caused by the fact of concentration of manpower and offensive weapons there. The Azerbaijani authorities deployed numerous OMON units in Khojalu; besides, fighters of the Azerbaijani Popular Front were positioned there. The NKR leadership had to prevent the intended operation of the Azerbaijani armed forces on attacking the Armenian regional center of Askeran and later - the capital town of Stepanakert.
The military operation on liberating Khojalu and deblocking the airport started on February 25, 1992, at 11:30 pm and ended on February 26, at 3:00 am. The units of the NKR self-defense forces left a corridor for the civilians to safely leave the military operations area, of which the Azerbaijani party had been informed beforehand. The corridor extended from the eastern end of Khojalu to the north-east, along the Karkar River bed and from the north end of the settlement to the north-east. But, the Azerbaijani authorities did nothing to evacuate the civilian population from the military activities area.
During the military operation in Khojalu, the NKR self-defense forces freed 13 Armenian hostages, including one child and six women, took as trophies two Grad MM-21 volley fire rocket facilities, four Alazan facilities, one 100-milimeter howitzers, and three units of armored equipment. The NKR Artsakh Rescue Service discovered 11 bodies of civilians in Khojalu and its suburbs. The area, where shots with numerous bodies of killed civilians were made later, is situated in three kilometers from the town of Aghdam and 11 kilometers from Khojalu, and it had been under the permanent control of the Azerbaijani units up to Aghdam's fall in the summer of 1993, which excluded any access to the area for the units of the Nagorno Karabakh Army.
The NKR authorities had informed the Azerbaijani party about the scheduled operation on neutralizing the fire points in Khojalu two months before its start, which was repeatedly confirmed even by the Azerbaijani officials, in particular, the then President, Ayaz Mutalibov. But, the column of civilians, as it was noted above, was fired at the approaches to Aghdam, on the border between the NKR and the Aghdam region of Azerbaijan, which was later confirmed by Mutalibov who interpreted this criminal act as the opposition’s attempt to dismiss him from the position, making him answerable for all had happened.
Later, the shots made by the Azerbaijani cameraman Chingiz Mustafaev, who was also given access to the place of exchanging the bodies of the deceased Armenians and Azerbaijanis, were disseminated. It is known that Mustafaev made the filming twice, with a two-day break. The film testifies that some bodies had been disfigured by the second filming.
During the second flight over the area of mass killing of the people, March 2, 1992, the journalists noticed that the bodies’ position on the land and the degree of the injuries and wounds had strikingly changed, in comparison with the first examination. And this was in the territory fully controlled by the Azerbaijani Popular Front till the summer of 1993. Just this very fact is thoroughly concealed by the Azerbaijani propagandists. It is quite obvious that the bodies’ position was changed to put all the blame for the events on Armenians, making semblance as if the Khojalu inhabitants had been killed as a result of the fire from the Armenian side.
This fact was so shocking for Mustafaev that he presented it to President Mutalibov who had obviously guessed the tragedy’s reasons by the moment. Mutalibov answered with really prophetic words, “Chingiz, do not tell anybody that you have noticed that something is wrong. Or, you'll be killed”.
Doubting that is was committed by the Armenian party, Mustafaev started his own independent investigation. But, after his information appeared in DR-Press Information Agency in Moscow on the possible participation of the Azerbaijani party in the crimes against the Khojalu inhabitants, the journalist was killed not far from Aghdam, under unclear circumstances.
By the way, the fate was shared by field commander Ala Yakub who had stated carelessly that “...he could cast light on the slaughter near Nakhijevanik (an Armenian village near Khojalu), as well as give sufficient details on the recent downfall of the helicopter over Karabakh, with statesmen in it”, for which the Azerbaijani Popular Front, on coming to power in the summer of 1992, arrested him and brought to death in the prison ward...
Czech journalist Dana Mazalova, who, by an oversight of the Azerbaijanis, was included in both groups of the mass media representatives, to whom the “bodies disfigured by Armenians” were demonstrated, noticed a considerable difference in the bodies' condition. Having visited the place immediately after the events, Mazalova didn't see any traces of barbarity on the bodies. And two days later, the journalists were shown the disfigured bodies already “prepared” for filming.
Some details of the military operation on neutralization of the enemy's fire points in Khojalu are still vague, on which official Baku actively cashes in for achieving its political goals. The topic of ‘Khojalu’ is still one of the corner-stones of the Azerbaijani domestic and foreign information, or rather, misinformation policy in the context of the Karabakh issue. Meanwhile, the statements on and assessments of the Khojalu events made by some high-ranking Azerbaijani officials, human rights activists, journalists, and inhabitants of Khojalu refute completely the false theses of Baku.
Thus, Azerbaijani human rights activist Arif Yunusov wrote: “The town and its citizens were deliberately sacrificed to the political goals” (Zercalo Azerbaijani newspaper, July 1992).
Following is the testimony by Tamerlan Karaev, the then Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Azerbaijani Republic: “The tragedy was committed by the Azerbaijani authorities, specifically – by a top official” (Mukhalifat Azerbaijani newspaper, April 28, 1992).
Even Heydar Aliev admitted that “the former leadership of Azerbaijan is also guilty” of the Khojalu events. According to Bilik-Dunyasi Agency, yet in April 1992, he expressed an extremely cynical idea, “We’ll benefit from the bloodshed. We shouldn’t interfere in the course of the events”.
Later, when representatives of the Popular Front came to power, Azerbaijani former Minister of National Security Vagif Guseynov stated shortly before his arrest: “The January events of 1990 in Baku and the events in Khojalu are the doing of the same people”, hinting at some political figures from the Azerbaijani Popular Front.
The abovementioned facts testify unambiguously that the Azerbaijani party is guilty of the civilians' killing in Khojalu, having committed a monstrous crime against its own people for political intrigues and power struggle.
It is noteworthy that the number of victims stated by the Azerbaijani party increases from year to year. A few days after the neutralization of the fire points in Khojalu, the number of casualties stated by the Azerbaijani officials made 100, increasing in a week to 1234; the parliamentary commission “corrected” it to 450, and in Heydar Aliev’s decree “On the Azerbaijani Genocide” the casualties were estimated at thousands.
Meanwhile, by the start of the military operation in Khojalu the settlement had not comprised such a number of civilians, which is, by the way, confirmed even by the Azerbaijani official sources. The majority of about 2000-2500 inhabitants of Khojalu, or those who really lived there and were not just registered during its intensive construction for giving it the status of a town, had left the village beforehand.
Thus, in late April 1993, at the CSCE Conference in Prague, the AR MFA disseminated document #249 entitled as “The list of the Azerbaijani-populated and mixed villages occupied by the Armenian armed forces”. In this document, the ‘population’ column stated 855 inhabitants for ‘Khojalu’.
In the first decade of March 1992, Azerbaijani journalists Ilya Balakhanov and Vugar Khalilov brought to the office of Memorial Human Rights Center a videocassette with the recording of the place of Khojalu inhabitants' killing made by Baku TV reporters from a military helicopter and just in place. Actually, all those present in the office admitted that the number of the casualties in the video didn’t exceed 50-60 people.
It should also be noted that the NKR Foreign Ministry disclosed a false photo placed at some Azerbaijani websites, including their honorable webpage of The Heydar Aliev Fund, which allegedly testifies to mass killings of Azerbaijanis in Khojalu. In fact, the photo has a direct relationship to the events in Kosovo. The Azerbaijani propaganda uses also other false materials, in particular, photos of the Kurdish pogroms’ victims in Turkey, to mislead those uninformed.
A month after his resignation, Mutalibov gave an interview to Czech journalist Dana Mazalova, which was published in the Nezavisimaya Gazeta. Speaking of Khojalu, Mutalibov noted, “According to the Khojalu inhabitants who escaped, all this was organized to dismiss me. Some forces acted to discredit the President. I don't think that the Armenians, who act very skillfully and accurately in similar situations, could let the Azerbaijanis gain any documents exposing them in fascist actions... The general reasoning is that a corridor for the people to escape was really left by the Armenians. Then why did they need to fire? Especially in the area near Aghdam, where sufficient forces were available for coming out and assisting the people”.
About 10 years later, the Azerbaijani ex-president confirmed his own idea in an interview to Novoye Vremya magazine, “The massacre of the Khojalu inhabitants was obviously organized by somebody for achieving coup d'état in Azerbaijan”.
In February 2005, Azerbaijani journalist Eynulla Fatullaev from Monitoring independent magazine spent ten days in the NKR, describing his visit in his materials and interviews. He also dared to doubt the truthfulness of Baku's official version on the death of some Khojalu inhabitants, “...Once, ten years ago, I met with the Khojalu refugees, temporarily living in Naftalan, who frankly told me... that a few days before the attack, the Armenians, with the help of loudspeakers, kept warning the population of the scheduled operation, suggesting the civilians to leave the settlement and break out of encirclement via a humanitarian corridor, along the Karkar River. Even according to the Khojalu people, they took advantage of this corridor and the Armenian soldiers on the other side of the corridor didn't really fire at them... Getting acquainted with the geographical area, I can confidently say that the inventions on the lack of an Armenian corridor have no grounds. The corridor really existed; otherwise, the Khojalu people, fully encircled and isolated from the outer world, couldn’t have run the rings and broken out of encirclement. But, having run the area over the Karkar River, the refugees divided into groups and, for some reason, a part of them made their way to Nakhijevanik. Apparently, the APF battalions sought more blood on their way to Mutalibov's dismissal and not the liberation of the Khojalu inhabitants”.
A few days after the Monitor's publication of Eynulla Fatullaev's first report from Karabakh, the magazine's editor, Elmar Guseynov, was shot, March 2, 2005, at the entrance into his house in Baku by a stranger. And Eynulla Fatullaev was convicted of a series of accusations, including of high treason...
Azerbaijani former Minister of Defense Ragim Gaziev also confirms that “a trap was prepared for Mutalibov in Khojalu”. In this way, the organizers of the mass massacre of the Khojalu inhabitants achieved two goals at once – dismissed Mutalibov, who became needless after the USSR collapse, and gained a reason for starting a noisy campaign on accusing the Armenians of inhuman war methods. The fact that since February 13, the Azerbaijani army had been systematically firing Grad rockets aimed at destroying the town of Stepanakert with its 55-thousand inhabitants and other nearby Armenian settlements was pushed back.
A Khojalu woman said in her interview to the Helsinki Watch on April 28, 1992, “The Armenians delivered an ultimatum… that it was better for the Khojalu inhabitants to leave the town with a white flag. Alif Gajiev (leader of the Khojalu defense) informed us about it on February 15 (10 days before the attack), but this didn’t frighten either me or the rest. We didn’t believe at all that they would be able to capture Khojalu”.
However, following these warnings, the majority of the civil population of Khojalu, being informed of the planned operation, moved to a safe place beforehand. The mass out-migration of the Khojalu population was widely covered by the Azerbaijani TV and Radio. The Azerbaijani mass media created deliberately a negative attitude to those leaving Khojalu and disgraced them constantly. We should note that Khojalu, which was turned into a town, was first left just by the people who had been forcedly moved here, mainly Meskhetian Turks, though they were constantly obstructed. Moreover, the municipal administration of Khojalu, which had been warned by the Armenian party, asked for assistance in evacuation of the population, but in vain. The Khojalu Mayor noted in his interview to Megapolis-Express Moscow newspaper that “after getting the news on the expected operation on the town capture I asked Aghdam to send helicopters for evacuation of the old people, women, and children. We were assured that a deblocking operation was being prepared. But, no assistance was provided”. And board member of the APF Aghdam branch R. Gajuev stated, “We could help the Khojalu people, having the corresponding forces and abilities. But, the republican leaders wanted to demonstrate to the people that they had no forces, wishing to call upon the CIS Army for help also to suppress the opposition with its support”.
As we see, the Khojalu inhabitants were merely left at the mercy of fate; moreover, they were destined to become victims of a power struggle.
However, by the start of the military operation, part of the civil population of Khojalu had left the settlement, and by late February 1992, according to different sources, about 1,000-2,500 people had stayed there, the majority of them making soldiers of the Azerbaijani armed forces. Investigating the destructions in Khojalu, the observers of Memorial Human Rights Center confirmed the fact of artillery shelling and not persistent street battles, which could have resulted in numerous casualties. It should also be noted that the corresponding order, regulating the behavior of the NKR self-defense forces, strictly prohibited any violence against the enemy’s civilians.
All the civilians left in Khojalu were moved to Stepanakert, and a few days later, according to their will and without any conditions, they were passed to the Azerbaijani party. After a thorough investigation, the fact of voluntary passing of the Khojalu citizens to Azerbaijan was confirmed in the conclusion of Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Center, as well as testified in the documentary film of Petersburg journalist Svetlana Kulchitskaya.
After the operation, the teams of Artsakh Republican Rescue Service, besides members of the armed detachments dresses in military uniforms, found 11 civilians' bodies, including a child and four women, in Khojalu and its suburbs. So, the assertion of the Azerbaijani party on the alleged mass massacre of Azerbaijani civilians in Khojalu is exposed. This is also testified by radio interceptions of the Azerbaijani servicemen in Aghdam, later published even in the Azerbaijani mass media.
It is noted in the report of Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Center that a state forensic medical examination of 181 bodies (130 men and 51 women, including 13 children) was made in Aghdam, where all the refugees came. The experts' conclusion testifies that 151 people's death was caused by bullet wounds, 20 people's – by missile wounds, 10 people's – by blow with a blunt item. The NKR official structures informed the observers that they had passed to Aghdam about 130 bodies (all those killed in Khojalu and near Nakhijevanik), 96 of which were buried in Aghdam, and the bodies of the rest were taken by their relatives.
The comparison of the information of different sources, including the Azerbaijani ones, convincingly demonstrates that the NKR self-defense forces didn't plan and especially didn't carry out any actions on mass massacre of the civilians in the settlement of Khojalu.
It should also be noted that as of February 26, 47 Armenians were being held hostages in Khojalu, but only 13 were left there after the operation (including 6 women and a child); the rest 34 hostages were taken by the Azerbaijanis in an unknown direction and there is no information confirming their further stay in the Azerbaijani imprisonment.
Summarizing the abovementioned, we can state that the inhabitants of Khojalu became hostages of the dirty games of the Baku authorities who later turned this tragedy into a speculative political capital. Official Baku tries to present the Azerbaijani authorities' betrayal of the Khojalu inhabitants as Armenians' revenge for the bloody bacchanalia in Sumgait. And the entire propaganda is realized with expressive insinuations and aggravation of the ethnic intolerance and hatred towards Armenians. Regularly launching the issue of 'Khojalu', official Baku tries to draw the attention of the international community away from the Armenian massacres in Sumgait, Baku, Kirovabad, Khanlar, and other settlements of Azerbaijan, in the whole territory of which open extermination of Armenians was, actually, carried out; it also took place in the borderline settlements of the NKR, in particular, Maragha village where, in April 1992, the invaded subunits of the Azerbaijani regular army fiercely killed about 100 civilians.
Unfortunately, the crimes committed by Azerbaijan are not given yet a corresponding assessment by the international community.
Information Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nagorno Karabakh Republic
COMMENTARY OF THE NKR MFA PRESS SERVICE
“Inter-community” format is unacceptable
Again, the Azerbaijani authorities implant actively the notion of “inter-community” aimed at distorting the essence of the Karabakh issue and transforming the actual trilateral format of the conflict into a bilateral one, which is favorable for official Baku.
The Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict is the consequence of official Baku's inability to display civilized approaches to the solution of the issue, which occurred as a result of the natural process of desintegration during the USSR collapse. The Nagorno Karabakh Republic, which had been established in full accordance with the then legislation and all the international norms, became an object of Azerbaijan’s full-scale aggression aimed at physical extermination of the NKR citizens. Having lost the war, which it had unleashed, Baku, unfortunately, became more sophisticated in its intrigues and provocations in the political sphere. The attempts to introduce the Karabakh conflict as “inter-community” are a propaganda trick of official Baku, trying to distract the international community from the real essence of the issue, which testifies again to Azerbaijani authorities' lacking a political will and desire for a peaceful settlement of the conflict. The “inter-community” format pursues far-reaching goals, in particular, unilateral return of Azerbaijani refugees to Nagorno Karabakh without resolving the issue of the 500.000 Armenians deported from Azerbaijan; turning the issue of former «colony» and former «metropolis» into inter-ethnic problems of the region’s inhabitants, while it is a consequence of the general discrimination policy of the Azerbaijani authorities towards the Karabakh Armenians; ignoring the factor of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic’s being an entity, and introducing the established Karabakh state as a region in Azerbaijan’s structure with equal rights of two communities. On Baku's consideration, all the abovementioned should ultimately become the basis for the issue’s solution in the radically nonviable format of «self-determination of Nagorno Karabakh within Azerbaijan».
The Karabakh party considers the «inter-community» approach not only non-perspective, but also extremely dangerous, as it leads the peacemaking process to a deadlock and discredits the very idea of peacemaking, causing additional tension and non-confidence between the societies of the conflicting parties.The attempt of artificial granting of this status to the Azerbaijani minority has no legal basis; it contradicts, in particular, the OSCE Budapest Summit resolution (1994) on the recognition of Nagorno Karabakh as an independent party to the conflict, without noting the «communities». The right of the Nagorno Karabakh population to self-determination didn't depend on the existence of consensus between the Armenians and Azerbaijanis. The former citizens of Nagorno Karabakh of Azerbaijani origin, to whom the Karabakh authorities gave the chance of participating in the voting and resolving the future fate of the region, preferred leaving Karabakh and becoming citizens of the newly proclaimed Azerbaijani Republic.
A constructive dialogue between the NKR citizens and former Azerbaijani citizens of Nagorno Karabakh is possible only after the legal recognition of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic. Only direct negotiations between the political leadership of Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan can give specific results on the comprehensive settlement of the issue and establishment of long-term peace in the region.
STATEMENT OF THE NKR MFA
on the recent initiatives of Azerbaijan and reaction of Baku related to the municipal elections in the NKR
October 1, 2011
COMMENTARY OF THE NKR MFA PRESS SERVICE
Investigating the report of the International Crisis Group (ICG) entitled ‘Armenia and Azerbaijan: preventing war’, one automatically comes to the conclusion that it was written exclusively for convincing Armenia to 'soften' its positions in the negotiation process, in particular, on the issue of the final status of Nagorno Karabakh.
As we know, the positions of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic in the negotiation process are presented today by the Republic of Armenia, in the part delegated to it by the NKR. But, all the actors of the peacemaking process, as well as the public sector, which is interested in the peaceful settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict, including the ICG, must consider the fact that the final decision should be made by the NKR people and authorities.
Another matter is the fairness of the report, which is written thousands of kilometers from Nagorno Karabakh and the authors of which haven’t visited the NKR at all, even for the sake of propriety. Let alone the fact that recently, Director of the ICG European Program Sabina Freiser has settled down in Istanbul, from where, basing on the publications in the mass media and often on unreal data, gives recommendations to the conflicting parties. But, only one visit to the NKR is enough for both comprehending the essence of the conflict and making sure of the Republic’s efficiency and viability.
Actually, the ICG offers to settle the conflict’s consequences and not the conflict itself, which just adds fuel to the fire in the conditions of extreme tension between the parties' societies. Sabina Freiser, maybe without realizing this, creates a new crisis situation, which, in fact, the Azerbaijani-Turkish tandem seeks for attempting to resolve on the quiet the issue in its own way. It isn't accidental that Freiser assigns Ankara the role of the basic regulator in the region and a mediator in the Karabakh issue settlement. So, it is time to rename the International Crisis Group into Crisis Creation Group.
Surely, those in Artsakh share the ICG concerns about the possible war resumption in any moment, which will lead to unprecedented destructive consequences for the entire region. But, similar reports should note the specific creators of the emerged explosive situation. The tension on the contact-line is the result of Azerbaijan's purposeful policy for the recent years. In the conditions of the increasing militant rhetoric and moods in Azerbaijan, the soft position of the mediators and foreign states' representatives is strange, while they had to flatly condemn President Aliev long ago, calling upon him to refuse of the policy of threats and to negotiate with the basic party to the conflict – the Nagorno Karabakh Republic. Unfortunately, the ICG proposals cannot resolve principle conflicts. The tactics of small concessions in favor of the aggressive party will only whet its appetite.
War should be opposed by the NKR recognition and not by signing a frame agreement or other half measures. Speeding up the signing of an agreement on the basic principles, without the detailed elaboration of all its key provisions, will become ‘a delayed action mine' under the entire peace process.
In the current situation, the soonest realization of confidence-building measures, both military and civic, is needed. The international community should establish direct relations with Nagorno Karabakh. The NKR integration into the international processes is about the only tool in the international community's arsenal for resisting the situation's running into a new war. The international community's ignoring of the NKR in favor of Azerbaijan only strengthens the latter’s confidence of its own right to new aggression.
The international community should not repeat its mistake made in early 1990s, when the recognition of Azerbaijan’s right to self-determination and rejection of Nagorno Karabakh's similar right were accepted by Azerbaijan as a carte blanche for realizing wide-scale aggression against the NKR and suppressing its people's will. Isn't it time to learn a lesson from the past?
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STATEMENT of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic concerning the referendum on the self-determination of South Sudan
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic (Republic of Artsakh) welcomes the referendum on the self-determination of South Sudan. The referendum in South Sudan testifies that the recognition and realization of peoples’ inalienable right to self-determination is the most optimal and democratic way of the peaceful settlement of similar conflicts. The conflicts between Ethiopia and Eritrea, Indonesia and East Timor were settled in the same way.
The NKR MFA emphasizes with satisfaction the position of the international community, which has exerted corresponding pressure on the central government in Khartoum and once again expressed its support of the implementation of nations’ right to self-determination as the basis for the declaration and further official recognition of the state independence.
The NKR MFA expresses hope that the referendum in South Sudan will result in the establishment of long-term peace and stability, which will allow to direct efforts to constructive and mutually beneficial cooperation between the countries of the region.
The NKR Foreign Ministry expects fair and firm consistency by the world powers in applying the same approach in relation to the Azerbaijani-Karabakhi and other similar conflicts, in the spirit of the modern tendencies of applying the international law and in accordance with the UN General Assembly’s December 2009 Resolution on the “Peoples’ Universal Right to Self-Determination”. In this connection, the NKR MFA reminds that the people of Artsakh enjoyed its right to self-determination yet in 1991, having declared for independence at the referendum, and confirmed its will in 2006, when adopting the NKR Constitution.
Тhe ignoring of the Nagorno Karabakh people’s right to independence by Azerbaijan and the international community's inaction led to Azerbaijan's full-scale aggression against the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, as a result of which tens of thousands of people were killed, hundreds of thousands underwent ethnic cleansings and deportations and became victims of the human rights' mass violations.
The international recognition of the results of the actually expressed will of the people of Artsakh is the shortest way to settle the Azerbaijani-Karabakhi conflict, to consolidate the stability and security of the South Caucasian region and to create corresponding conditions for establishing civilized relations between the Republic of Artsakh and the Republic of Azerbaijan.
The NKR Foreign Office states that people’s freedom and security are the supreme values in the modern world. Any efforts to impede the realization of the basic human rights should be considered regardless of the political conjuncture and should be given an unambiguous and strict assessment by the international community.
Stepanakert, January 24, 2011
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STATEMENT OF THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE NAGORNO KARABAKH REPUBLIC
Recently, Azerbaijan has intensified its attempts to cast doubt on the expediency of visiting the Nagorno Karabakh Republic (NKR) by foreign citizens.
The NKR Ministry of Foreign Affairs states another destructive initiative of official Baku. The Azerbaijani leadership’s attempts to interfere with the processes concerning the interests of the neighboring Nagorno Karabakh Republic are groundless and must be considered as another manifestation of hostility towards our country.
For two decades, the NKR has developed as an independent and democratic state, which is able to defend its sovereignty and ensure all the democratic rights and liberties for its citizens. Since the declaration of its independence, our country has been visited by tens of thousands of guests from many states of the civilized world. Missions of international organizations, including NGOs, and business-companies constantly operate in the Republic. Annually, the NKR MFA registers average 15-percent increase of the number of tourists, which testifies to the sincere and increasing interest of the international community towards the Karabakh phenomenon.
Unfortunately, any testimony for the consolidation of the NKR statehood causes inadequate reaction by Baku, as a result of which the Azerbaijani authorities often resort to a state blackmail or other typical actions contradicting the modern system of international legal and moral standards.
The recent initiative is encroachment on the interests of the Karabakh people by Baku impeding confidence-building between the AR and NKR, which is a necessary term for an efficient settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict.
The Azerbaijani leadership should refuse of its destructive steps and direct its political potential to the negotiations on the achievement of mutually acceptable peace and stability in the South Caucasus, with the consideration of the existing realities.
Stepanakert, January 21, 2011
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In connection with the OSCE field mission being implemented in the territory of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, the political parties, public organizations, and creative unions of Artsakh sent a message to OSCE Chairman-in-Office Kanat Saudabayev and the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmen, which was passed the same day to Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk.
Following is the text of the message:
TO: OSCE Chairman-in-Office Kanat Saudabaev
OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmen:
Ambassador Robert Bradtke – the United States of America
Ambassador Igor Popov – the Russian Federation
Ambassador Bernard Fassier – the French Republic
The reason for our appeal to you is the realization of the OSCE field assessment mission taking place now in the Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) Republic and the corresponding views and concerns existing in public-political life of our country.
The basic issue of the NKR population’s concern is the goal of this mission. If its real goal is indeed the assessment of the current humanitarian situation in the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict zone it is at least strange why the field mission is implemented only in one section of this zone, in the NKR territory.
Appreciating your awareness of the history of the Karabakh issue, however, we consider it necessary remind you some facts and events, which played their role in the formation of the current humanitarian situation in the region.
The subordination of Nagorno Karabakh to the Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) via wide regional autonomy was endorsed by the July 5, 1921 resolution of the Caucasian Bureau of the Communist (Bolshevik) Party.
Prior this the League of Nations left the resolution of the issue of internationally recognized status of Nagorno Karabakh upon the Paris Peace Conference.
At the same time only two years later, in 1923, after the urgent demands of the Armenian majority of NK and Soviet Armenia, the Central Executive Committee of the Azerbaijan SSR proclaimed the Autonomous Oblast (Region) of Nagorno Karabakh on the part of the predominantly Armenian populated region, which always constituted an integrated whole as well as deprived the town of Shoushi from its status of Karabakh’s capital.
For the whole period of the Soviet rule this unilateral resolution, which violated the interests of the Armenian majority of Nagorno Karabakh, caused constant indignation and complaints, which were sharply oppressed by the Azerbaijani authorities, and were leading to mass emigration of the Armenian population from the region.
Suffice it to say that within 25 years after the forced subordination to Azerbaijan the number of the Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh declined by 22000 people, while the Azerbaijani population of the oblast (region) increased almost threefold.
The discrimination towards Nagorno Karabakh is also testified by the fact that during the war in 1941-1945, over a third of its population, 44000 people, were recruited to the active army and almost half of them perished. In percentage, such horrible human losses were suffered only by the nations that underwent through the fascist occupation and ethnic cleansing. To compare, it should be noted that only 20% of the population of the Azerbaijan SSR was recruited to the front.
The issue of Armenian expulsions from Nagorno Karabakh was always on the agenda of the Azerbaijani state policy. In 2001 during a meeting with a group of writers Azerbaijani president Heydar Aliyev stated proudly that within 1969-1982, while being the leader of Soviet Azerbaijan, he could “radically change the demographic situation in Nagorno Karabakh in favor of the Azerbaijanis”. This was one of the rare cases when president Aliyev said the truth.
Today, about a million of Karabakh Armenians live in various countries of the world. A considerable part of them was forced to leave the homeland for the reason of political persecution, real threats of physical extermination, and being deprived of the livelihood.
The last ethnic cleansing in Nagorno Karabakh took place in the regions of Shahoumyan and Getashen in 1991-1992 with the rough use of military force. As a result over 50000 Armenians were deprived of their homeland. Overall, 420000 Armenians were deported within 1988-1992 from Azerbaijan, having left in this country their property and wealth worth of billions of dollars and having got no compensation so far.
Unfortunately, Azerbaijan closed the window for a dialogue, resorting to violation. We had no other way but following the fundamental principles of international law proclaim our independence, create our national state institutes, and resist the military aggression, which led to destructions, tens of thousands of human losses and hardships.
Meanwhile, human sufferings of both the Armenians and the Azerbaijanis in the conflict zone could have been prevented if the Azerbaijani authorities had displayed elementary understanding of the Armenian population of the region.
Thus, the existing situation is the consequence of the war imposed by Azerbaijan. This is why the Azerbaijani authorities bear the full responsibility for the human losses.
The criminal style and anti-Armenian rhetoric, armament drive and militant statements still depict Azerbaijani ideology.
We hope that the structure, which has assumed the mediation between the parties to the conflict, realizes that such a style of actions does not contribute to the peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict and provokes a new war.
We have to remind that in the existing situation where the Karabakh party is deprived of the possibility of full-fledged participation in the negotiation process, Azerbaijan and the structure, which has assumed the settlement mission, will again be responsible for the consequences in case of resuming the war in the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict zone.
We hope that your further mediation activities will not inflame the ill imagination of Azerbaijan suffering from a mania of new bloodshed, will sober it up and will contribute to the creation of an atmosphere of a civilized dialogue and to the peaceful settlement of the conflict.
The Free Motherland Party
The Democratic Party of Artsakh
Artsakh organization of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutiun) Party
The Armenakan Party of Artsakh
The Nagorno Karabakh Communist Party
The Union of the Relatives of Perished in the Artsakh War
Union of the Relatives of the Artsakh War Missing in action Soldiers
Nagorno Karabakh Committee of the Helsinki Initiative-92
Artsakh Union of Writers
Artsakh Union of Journalists
Artsakh Union of Painters
Artsakh Union of Intelligentsia
Vita organization of the Artsakh War Disable Freedom Fighters
The NKR Union of Refugees
The Union of War and Labor Veterans
Federation of NKR Trade Unions
October 11, 2010
OF THE COUNCIL OF NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS
OF THE NAGORNO KARABAKH REPUBLIC
In connection with the decision on conducting an OSCE Field Assessment Mission on the liberated territories of the NKR, members of the NKR Council of NGOs consider it necessary to state that:
We perceive the OSCE Field Assessment Mission as an action, which is escalating tension in the region of the conflict and which is not expected to contribute to the process of the peaceful settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict.
While official Baku is voicing threats against the NKR and its people and the Azerbaijani leadership is continuously threatening with a resumption of war, while during the last few months the Line of Contact is being under heavy fire on a daily basis and people are dying, while the Azerbaijani armed forces keep on attempting reconnaissance and sabotage actions in the territory of the NKR, while Baku only confirms its aggressive intentions with its flat refusal to withdraw snipers from the Line of Contact, the OSCE Minsk Group mediators instead of dealing with all these issues are organizing a mission, which looks like an attempt to appease the aggressive party.
We, the representatives of the Artsakh public, do not understand why the war rhetoric of the Azerbaijani leaders and the aggressive behavior of the Azerbaijani armed forces, threatening to escalate into a large-scale war, remain out of the attention and the adequate targeted assessment of the OSCE Minsk Group. The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries, which assumed responsibility for the peaceful settlement of the conflict, have to make every effort to prevent violence and any kind of activity, provoking an escalation of tension.
Moreover, it is absolutely clear that Baku will use the results of the OSCE Field Assessment Mission to intensify the information war, just as the political readership of Azerbaijan is continuing its cynical speculations over the results of the work of previous OSCE Missions.
The one-sided character of the upcoming OSCE Field Assessment Mission, in our opinion, also cannot give a positive impulse to the process of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict settlement.
For the mission to be able to give a complete picture, it should also simultaneously take place in the territories of the NKR, occupied by Azerbaijan.
The Field Assessment Mission should also draw the attention of the public to the facts of vandalism towards the Armenian historical and cultural monuments in these territories, aimed at the destruction of any historical and cultural evidence of continued Armenian presence in those lands, including through populating these territories with Azerbaijanis.
We protest against the mediators` disregard of the rights of the Armenian refugees and displaced persons.
Besides, Armenians that have once been deprived of their Homeland by being forcibly expelled from Azerbaijan and found shelter on the liberated territories again will be subjected to psychological pressure and stress and for some reason to maintain their right to life on this land.
We strongly believe that any decision should be based on parity, as well as proceed from the principles of equal rights and justice, accommodating the opinions of all societies involved in the conflict, and most importantly, it should serve to prevent tension and violence and establish lasting peace.
7 October, 2010***
COMMENTARY OF THE NKR MFA PRESS SERVICE
During the last visit of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmen to Stepanakert, French mediator Bernard Fassier, answering the journalists' questions, stated that «...we crossed the contact-line and not the border».
Mr. Fussier is an experienced diplomat and he wasn't mistaken saying that the Co-Chairmen had crossed the contact-line and not the border, for two reasons. First, the OSCE MG Co-Chairmen crossed the contact-line of the NKR and AR armed forces from the NKR territory proper under Azerbaijan's occupation so far. And second, this is the section of the contact-line that is gradually turning into a confrontation-line of the NKR and AR armed forces, due to the persistent and aggressive efforts of Azerbaijan.
Just on this reason, the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmen conducted personally the monitoring, crossing the contact-line and aiming at the reduction of confrontation between the NKR and AR armed forces.
Statement of the NKR Ministry of Foreign Affairs related to the resolution of the UN International Court on the independence of Kosovo
By its resolution of July 22, 2010, the International Court of Justice confirmed and legally endorsed that the right of nations to self-determination and its realization do not violate any principle or norm of the general international law, including the principle of territorial integrity.
This resolution is of extremely legal, political and moral, as well as universal precedent-related significance and cannot be limited just with Kosovo's example.
Having realized its right to the creation of an independent state, the Artsakh people was forced to confront the military aggression organized by Azerbaijan, as a result of which thousands of people perished, tens of thousands were deported and became refugees. The international community hasn’t properly assessed these actions so far.
In the conditions of confronting the aggressive policy of Azerbaijan, the Artsakh people continues building a civil and democratic state, which has become a component of the regional security system in the South Caucasus.
The right of the Artsakh people to build and possess its own state and to be the master of its own fate, will be, surely, recognized by the international community, as it was realized in full accordance with the basic principles of international law, is just and is achieved through much suffering.
Stepanakert, July 24, 2010
Commentary of the NKR MFA Press Service
The events of late February 1988 in the town of Sumgait shocked the international community with their savagery and brutality. They became an embodiment of the Azerbaijani authorities’ policy of hatred towards Armenians conducted within the whole soviet period.
Unfortunately, the pogroms organized and implemented in Sumgait on February 27-29 on a top state level haven’t got corresponding political or legal assessment, and their organizers and basic executors haven’t only avoided any punishment, but they still occupy top positions in Azerbaijan. The official structures of the USSR hurried to put veto on the «sumgait» issue, artificially dividing the mass massacre of Armenians into separate crimes. In other words, the committed genocide was veiled, and its organizers and executors were shielded on an official level.
The policy of concealment towards the genocide in Sumgait made possible conducting ethnic cleansing in the whole territory of the Republic by the Azerbaijani SSR authorities and led to further unleashing a wide-scale military aggression against the people of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic. Having suffered a crushing defeat in its unleashed war, official Baku is not going to learn a lesson from the recent past and keeps on intensifying its military rhetoric.
Official Baku's unwillingness to face the truth only distances the prospect of confidence building between Artsakh and Azerbaijan, without which the Karabakh conflict settlement and solution of other regional issues are impossible.
STATEMENT OF THE NKR MFA PRESS SERVICE
The anti-Armenian campaign in connection with the regular anniversary of the tragic events in the settlement of Khojaly, which has set everybody’s teeth on edge for a long time, has gained an unprecedented scope this year in Azerbaijan. In connection with the insinuations of official Baku, the Press Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic considers it necessary to remind that a military operation was organized on February 25-26, 1992 with the aim of unblocking the only airport in the Republic situated near the settlement of Khojaly and neutralizing the fire-points of the enemy just in Khojaly, from where, beginning from spring 1991, the settlements of Nagorno Karabakh were regularly attacked by the Azerbaijani OMON-members and exposed to artillery bombardment, including from «Grad» rocket launchers – weapon of mass destruction (WMD) prohibited by numerous international conventions.
Fulfilling a vital goal for the Karabakh people, the units of the NKR self-defense forces, attacking Khojaly, provided a corridor for the civilians' safe leaving the military activities zone, about which the Azerbaijani party was informed beforehand. This fact was repeatedly confirmed by the Azerbaijani officials, in particular, the then President Ayaz Mutalibov. But, the Azerbaijani authorities made nothing for the peaceful population's withdrawal from the military activities area. Moreover, a column of civilians was shot down at the approaches to the Aghdam region’s border, which was later confirmed by Mutalibov, connecting this criminal act with the opposition’s attempts to remove him from his position, making him responsible for the events.
The territory, where pictures of numerous corpses were made, is in a three-kilometer distance from the town of Aghdam and in 11 kilometers from Khojaly. Up to the summer of 1993, this territory was under permanent control of the Azerbaijani armed forces, which excluded any access for the units of the Karabakh self-defense forces.
«The Azerbaijani official propaganda tries to blame Armenians for the killing of the civil population of Khojaly, but even Azerbaijani President Mutalibov admitted that “Armenians still provided a corridor for the civilians' leaving the place», the Russian Nezavisimaya Gazeta from April 2, 1992 wrote. Also, Ogonyok journal (#14-15, 1992) noted that «...the attack of Khojaly wasn't sudden».
Some details of that military operation are still shrouded in mystery, which is actively speculated by the Azerbaijani state propagandistic machine, using various falsifications, forgeries, and obvious lie. Last year, the NKR MFA drew the public attention to the false photo placed at some Azerbaijani websites, including the one of a generator of false ideas – The Heydar Aliyev Fund (www.azerbaijan.az). In fact, the photo related immediately to the events in Kosovo and just as such, along with numerous others, was introduced at the Serbian, Albanian, and one of the specialized German forums, at the site of The New York Times authoritative journal, and others. This year, new forgeries have been added to the noted one. Thus, about 20 false photos used by the Azerbaijani party, in particular, those of the victims of the Kurdish pogroms in Turkey, the victims of the massacre in Srebrennitsa, and others, were introduced during the February 24 presentation of the www.xocali.net project in Yerevan. Besides, outrageous falsifications were discovered in the lists of the Aghdam tragedy victims introduced by the Azerbaijani official structures – embassies, the presidential library, etc. Also, the site provides video-films about the interrogations of the Turks-Meskhetians, which testify that despite the Armenian party's warning of the Khojaly attack, the Azerbaijani servicemen banned the escape of the Turks-Meskhetians' families, which were artificially settled there by the Azerbaijani authorities.
The Azerbaijani propaganda tries to introduce the betrayal of the Khojaly civilians by their high-rank compatriots as the Armenians' revenge for the bloody orgy in Sumgait.
But, the remarks and assessments of the Khojaly events by some Azerbaijani top officials, human rights activists, and journalists refute flatly the false thesis of official Baku. Thus, Azerbaijani human rights activist Arif Yunusov wrote: «The town and its citizens were deliberately made victims of the political goal – to prevent the Azerbaijani Popular Front’s coming to power” (Azerbaijani Zerkalo newspaper, July 1992).
Tamerlan Karayev, in due time Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Azerbaijani Republic (now AR Ambassador to India), testified: «The tragedy was implemented by the Azerbaijani authorities», specifically «some of the top officials» (Mukhalifat Azerbaijani newspaper, April 28, 1992).
Heydar Aliyev admitted himself that «the former leadership of Azerbaijan is also guilty” of the Khojaly events. According to Bilik-Dunyasi Agency, still in April 1992 he expressed a cynically monstrous idea: “The bloodshed will do good to us. We shouldn’t interfere in the course of the events». Did the «father» of Azerbaijan bear the responsibility for these words?
Czech journalist Yana Mazalova who, by the Azerbaijanis’ oversight, found herself in both groups of the mass media representatives, which were shown the «corpses defiled by Armenians», noted a sufficient difference in the latters' condition. Visiting the field immediately after the events, Mazalova didn't see any traces of barbarity on the corpses. And two days later, the journalists were shown the disfigured bodies already «prepared» for filming.
The Russian Megalopolis-Express newspaper wrote: «We cannot but admit that if the Azerbaijani Popular Front had really far-reaching goals, so it has achieved them. Mutalibov is compromised and dismissed, the international community is shocked, the Azerbaijanis and the friendly Turks believed in the so-called «genocide of the Azerbaijani population in Khojaly».
As it is known, still on February 26, 47 Armenian hostages were kept in Khojaly, which is deliberately concealed by the Azerbaijani mass media. After liberating Khojaly, there were only 13 of them (among them 6 women and a child), while the rest 34 were taken away in an unknown direction by the Azerbaijanis. So far, there is no information about there further fate. We only know that they were taken away from the village in the operation night, but they didn't enter Aghdam.
It is evident that those who wanted to make a semblance of the corpses' defilement by Armenians disfigured, first of all, the bodies of the Armenian hostages in order that they couldn’t be identified. Just for this purpose, the majority of the corpses were undressed, and just for this purpose, the victims' bodies were exposed to outrages, which changed them out of all recognition.
Proceeding from the abovementioned facts, we can confidently state that the Azerbaijani party is guilty of the death of the civilians of Khojaly and the Armenian hostages kept there, and that the Azerbaijani party committed a monstrous crime against its own people for the sake of its political intrigues and struggle for power.
It is already obvious for everybody that the «genocide» of Azerbaijanis in Khojaly is a myth created still by Heydar Aliyev and taken up by his throne-successor Aliyev-the-junior in order to draw the international community's attention away from the massacre of Armenians in Sumgait, Baku, Kirovabad, and many other populated-by-Armenians settlements, as well as to conceal the political, humanitarian, military, economic, and other penal offences of the Azerbaijani leadership against Armenian civilians and against its own people.
STATEMENT OF THE POLITICAL FORCES OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF THE NAGORNO KARABAKH REPUBLIC
On January 19, the political forces of the NKR National Assembly, in particular, “Democracy”, “Motherland”, and “ARFD-Movement-88” factions, issued a statement related to the January 1990 Armenian massacres in Baku.
Following is the full text of the statement.
Twenty years ago, massacre of the Armenian population was organized and coolly implemented on the state level in the capital city of the then official Soviet Azerbaijan – Baku. Thousands of innocent people - women, children and old people - were killed with extreme brutality, and tens of thousands of people, suffering from heavy physical wounds and moral shock, were deported and deprived of their homeland.
In fact, the January massacres in Baku became the finale of the violations and deportations committed towards the native and state-making Armenian population of the Eastern Transcaucasia in 1905-1906, 1918-1920, and 1988-1990. It was the specific response of the Azerbaijani authorities to the peaceful, just, and legal right of the Nagorno Karabakh people to worthy life in their homeland, which took place with the criminal connivance of the USSR authorities.
We, the representatives of the political forces of the National Assembly of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, condemning once again the violations committed towards Armenians in Azerbaijan during the whole 20th century, as a result of which the native Armenian population was deprived of its inalienable right to state self-organization, in particular, the massacres, which started on January 13, 1990 in Baku, assess them as:
-a fact of mass violation of the human rights and freedoms, first of all, the right to life;
-evident demonstration of the Azerbaijani state policy of xenophobia, national intolerance, and ethnic cleansing;
-the heaviest crime committed against the humanity on the state level – Genocide, the responsibility for which, according to the international law, has no time limitation.
The Nagorno Karabakh Republic will seek the legal assessment of the violations, deportations and ethnic cleansing implemented in Azerbaijan and the punishment of the organizers, regardless of their current political and public position and residence.
As demonstration of this legal and just intention, we call upon the UN, EU, OSCE, and member-states of the OSCE Minsk Group:
-to hold an impartial investigation of the violations committed towards the Armenian population in Baku between January 13 and January 20 and give the legal assessment to the actions of the organizers and executors of the crime;
-not to equate the crimes organized on the state level in peaceful conditions with the privations, which the region's peoples suffered due to the war unleashed by Azerbaijan.
To avoid further undesirable developments, we demand to condemn and use corresponding penalties towards the criminal state. This is not only the right of the sufferer, but also the duty of the international structures, as Genocide is a crime against the humanity.
COMMENTARY OF THE NKR MFA PRESS SERVICE
January 13, 2010 is the 20th anniversary of the Armenian pogroms in Baku, which had become the direct and logical continuation of the massacre of Armenians in February 1988 in another Azerbaijani city – Sumgait reputed to be “international”.
The unpunished evil was repeated, still on an expanded scale. The January 13-19, 1990 massacre in Baku, with the use of the most brutal and subtle methods of killing people, completed the ethnic cleansing of the Azerbaijani capital from Armenians – representatives of one of the state-constituting nations of the country, a nation representing the pride and fame of Baku. Thousands of Armenians in Baku deceased or became handicapped, and hundreds of thousands became refugees. Mainly children, old people, and women became victims of the really fascist atrocities.
The Armenian issue was resolved via the experienced Turkish tool – genocide, with the connivance of the central Soviet authorities, with the silent consent and participation of the Azerbaijani SSR leadership. And while the Soviet troops «were late» for 3 hours in Sumgait, they «were late» for a whole week in Baku, entering the city only when actually no Armenians were left there.
The monstrous crime in Baku hasn’t got any political, legal or moral estimation so far. The very fact of the Azerbaijani authorities’ concealment of the atrocities against Armenians is outrageous cynicism. The lack of even a shadow of repentance, moreover, the increasing threats towards the Armenian people confirm that «bakus», «sumgaits», and «kirovabads» are still on the agenda of Azerbaijan's official policy. And all this is witnessed by the international community, which probably isn't going to take lessons from the past – as just the connivance of the international community made possible the bloody bacchanalia, which covered the whole territory of the AzSSR and achieved its peak in January 1990 in Baku.
The Armenian pogroms in Baku are one of the convincing grounds for the impossibility of Nagorno Karabakh(Artsakh) Republic’s being part of Azerbaijan.The atrocities towards Armenians, which were systematically organized by the Azerbaijani authorities during the whole 20th century, emphasize once again the rightness of the Artsakh people struggling for freedom and defense of its primordial rights.
Statement of the MFA of NKR
Due to the recent developments around the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict settlement, the NKR Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers it essential to issue the following statement:
The NKR stance on the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict settlement is stable. It is impossible to achieve the conflict settlement, ignoring the existing reality. Any attempts to return the Nagorno Karabakh Republic to the past are not only counterproductive, but are also fraught with new escalation of the conflict. Real progress at the negotiations is possible only under the Karabakh party’s equal participation in all the stages of the negotiation process. No agreement regarding the interests, fate, and future of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic can be adopted without the participation of its people and leadership, which bears the principal responsibility for it.
We hope that all the actors interested in the peaceful settlement will prevent any violation of the status-quo in the region caused by the intensification of the negotiation process on the basis of the current settlement wording.
Proceeding from the abovementioned, we consider it required to reset the distorted negotiation process, to return the NKR to the negotiation table as an equal party to the negotiation process, and to transform the basic principles of the settlement.
Azerbaijan keeps on gambling the “khodjalu” topic
The traditional anti-Armenian campaign connected with the events of 1992 in Khodjalu settlement begins in Azerbaijan. At that, the official Azerbaijani propaganda does not disdain to use any methods and means to display the Armenian side as a party responsible for the tragedy and to inject another portion of poison of Armenian phobia into the world public consciousness and the consciousness of its own people. Moreover, Baku goes on circulating the already unmasked frauds.
Thus, next year the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic drew the public’s attention to a forged photograph exposed in a number of Azerbaijani websites, including the website of “Heydar Aliyev Foundation”, which is very respectable in Azerbaijan (www.azerbaijan.az). It has been mentioned, that the propaganda machine of the neighboring republic tries to use the fact that besides a great number of corpses of civilians in the foreground of the photograph, outskirts of a settlement are seen in the background, which, in principle, should add verisimilitude to Baku’s version on mass killings of Azerbaijanis in Khodjalu. Meanwhile, color version of the above-mentioned photograph absolutely refutes it, namely the faces of the deceased, their garments, etc. In fact, this photograph is directly connected with the events in Kosovo. Namely as that the photograph along with a great number of the others was exhibited in one Serbian, one Albanian, and in one specialized German forum, in internet-page of reputable edition “New York Times” etc.
However, the mentioned undisguised fraud still remains in a number of Azerbaijani sites, thus deluding those uninformed. Booklets with similar fraud are circulating all over the world.
The NKR MFA Information Department reminds that on February 25-26, 1992, the Karabakhi side launched a military operation to release the only airport of the republic, situated near Khodjalu settlement and to neutralize the weapon emplacements of the enemy in Khodjalu, from where since summer of 1991 the populated areas of Nagorno Karabakh have been regularly exposed to attacks of the Azerbaijani special police squads (OMON), artillery bombardments from “Alazan”, “Crystal” and rocket facility of volley fire “Grad”.
The release of the airport and neutralization of weapon emplacements of enemy in Khodjalu was of vital importance for the NKR people. The subunits of the NKR Defense Army granted a corridor to the peaceful population for safe and timely leaving the battle zone and the Azerbaijani side was informed of it beforehand. It is well-known that the NKR authorities informed the Azerbaijani side of preparation for the neutralization of the Khojalu weapon emplacements two months prior to the operation and that was repeatedly confirmed by the officials of Azerbaijan, in particular, by the then president Ayaz Mutalibov.
However, the leadership of Azerbaijan did not undertake anything to help the peaceful population to leave the battle zone. Moreover, a column of peaceful population was shot near the border of Aghdam region, which was later on confirmed by Mutalibov, who connected the crime with the opposition’s efforts to remove him from the office by making him responsible for everything.
The territory where subsequently many corpses were filmed is 3 km far from Aghdam and 11 km from Khojalu. Up to the fall of Aghdam (summer 1993) this area was under permanent control of the Azerbaijani units, which excluded the access of the Karabakhi self -defense units there.
Some details of this military operation are so far shrouded in mystery and namely using this circumstance official Baku tries to profit from it to gain its political goals.
It is noteworthy, that all the propaganda is being carried out with pronounced anti-Armenian insinuations and is used for forcing ethnic intolerance and hatred towards Armenians among Azerbaijanis.
Unfortunately, the topic of “khodjalu” remains to be one of the cornerstones of the Azerbaijani domestic and foreign information or rather misinformation policy within the context of the Karabakh problem in general.
NKR MFA Information Department