"KHOJALU" IS A SPECULATIVE POLITICAL CAPITAL FOR OFFICIAL BAKU

Tert.am
2012-02-15 12:35

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'etat 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.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nagorno-Karabakh Republic NKR, Stepanakert,
Azatamartikneri 28