TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgian Azerbaijani activists marked the anniversary of the Khojaly tragedy and called for its recognition as a genocide.
On 25 February, a conference on the Khojaly (Xocalı) genocide was held in Tbilisi. The event was organised by the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Georgia in cooperation with the Mirza Fatali Akhundov (Mirzə Fətəli Axundov) Museum of Azerbaijani Culture in Tbilisi and the Youth Department of the Azerbaijani Culture Centre in Georgia. It was attended by up to 25 people, including Azerbaijani government representatives, young activists, and journalists.
The event commemorates a tragedy which took place in the town of Khojaly (Ivanyan in Armenian) during the war in Nagorno-Karabakh. On 25–26 February 1992, the town’s ethnic Azerbaijani civilian population was killed by Armenian forces, claiming, according to different estimates, between 161 and 613 victims.
The government of Azerbaijan has campaigned for international recognition of the tragedy as a genocide, establishing International Civil Awareness Campaign ‘Justice for Khojaly’ in 2008. The campaign’s biggest achievement so far has been recognition of the tragedy as a genocide by parliaments of Pakistan and Sudan. A handful of other countries and fifteen US states have recognised the tragedy as a massacre.
Issues related to Khojaly are considered extremely sensitive in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Nagorno-Karabakh due to high politicisation of mutually exclusive historical narratives.
‘We should inform the world about the Khojaly genocide. Armenians claim that 100 years ago there were genocide against Armenians, but Khojaly was just 24 years ago. And they deny it. [President of Armenia, Serzh] Sargsyan said that Azerbaijanis did not expect from us this action, but we did it. It was confessed by him. The tourists, foreigners should be informed about this horrible story of our nation’, Azer Huseyn (Azər Hüseyn), the ambassador of Azerbaijan in Georgia said during his speech at the conference.
‘Already for several years, February has been known as the “Khojaly” month in Georgia. Last year we organised a rally in memory of Khojaly’s martyrs in front of the Embassy of Armenia in Tbilisi and demanded justice for Khojaly. This was the first time in Georgia’s history. There were many Azerbaijani youths there’, Nargiz Aliyeva (Nərgiz Əliyeva), head of the Youth Department of the Azerbaijani Culture Centrein Georgia, said.
‘First of all, our youth should know the history of their motherland. They should know it perfectly in order to inform the whole world about it. When we distributed brochures with the history of Khojaly, with the pictures of martyrs, Georgians were so surprised. They were horrified with such kind of inhuman action towards civil population which was killed in Khojaly. And we saw that Georgians don’t hear about this genocide at all. That is why Azerbaijani students should know the Georgian language; they should know the history, and talk, spread information about this genocide to more people’,Ms Aliyeva said.
A similar event was held the same day in the town of Marneuli in Kvemo Kartli, which has a majority Azerbaijani population.
Reported by Dominik K. Cagara and Gülnar Səlimova