On the night of Feb. 25-26, 1992, a tragic and brutal event unfolded in the small town of Khojaly, in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. The Khojaly massacre, also known as the Khojaly tragedy, was one of the deadliest and most horrific massacres in modern history, leaving hundreds of innocent Azerbaijani civilians dead, injured, or missing.
The Nagorno-Karabakh region has been the subject of a long-standing conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, with both countries claiming ownership of the area. In the late 1980s, tensions rose between the two countries, escalating into a full-scale war in the early 1990s. This led to numerous human rights violations and the forced displacement of thousands.
On the night of Feb. 25, 1992, Armenian forces, including the Armenian army and separatist militants, heavily attacked Khojaly. The indiscriminate massacre carried out by Armenian troops resulted in the brutal murder of 106 women, 63 children, and 70 older adults, leaving nearly 487 seriously wounded. The Armenian forces used heavy artillery, machine guns, and grenades to target the town’s civilian population, killing men, women, and children. They also targeted the town’s infrastructure, including water and electricity, leaving the survivors without necessities. To this day, 150 people captured during the Khojaly massacre remain missing.
The Khojaly massacre has profoundly impacted Azerbaijan and the wider international community. The massacre has been recognized as genocide by the Azerbaijani government and many global communities. The international community has condemned the massacre, including the United Nations, the European Union, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The Khojaly massacre is a stark reminder of the devastating human cost of war and conflict. It is essential that civilians must be protected from the horrors of war, and that human rights violations must be held accountable. Justice for Khojaly is essential, and those responsible for this tragedy must be held accountable for their actions and brought to justice. The international community must work towards finding a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, one that respects the rights of all parties involved and ensures the safety and security of civilians.
Azerbaijan Regains Territory in Second Karabakh War
The Second Karabakh War between Azerbaijan and Armenia resulted in significant territorial gains for Azerbaijan. Over six weeks, from Sept. 27, 2020, to Nov. 10, 2020, Azerbaijan recaptured several areas previously occupied by Armenian forces, including parts of the Nagorno-Karabakh region and neighboring territories.
On Nov. 10, 2020, a ceasefire agreement was signed between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which Russia brokered. The agreement established a peacekeeping force to monitor the ceasefire and facilitate the return of refugees.
Despite Azerbaijan’s territorial regains, about 20 thousand Armenians, with the help of Russia, are still occupying areas such as Khojaly, Khankandi, Askaran, and Khojavand. It is hoped that Russia and other parties, including Turkey and the United States, in the framework of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, will encourage the Armenians living in these areas to accept the realities.
The Second Karabakh War had important regional consequences and raised questions about the future of the broader South Caucasus region. Moving forward, Azerbaijan and Armenia must take steps to find a lasting solution for peace and stability. Peace in the Caucasus can bring prosperity and comfort to both countries and the entire region. According to one of the clauses of the agreement, Armenia must admit and act to open the Zangezur corridor, allowing Azerbaijan to connect to Nakhchivan. However, the situation is not straightforward, and historical, political, and security concerns are at play.
To prevent incidents like Khojaly from happening, the international community, including the United States, should encourage Armenia to comply with the provisions of the ceasefire agreement.
[Header image: Khojaly massacre memorial in The Hague, Netherlands. Credit: Mursel, via Wikimedia Commons]
Babek Chalabi is a South Azerbaijani activist based in Washington DC; Chalabi also is the founder of ArazNews.org. Babek tweets at @BabekChelebi.