The Khojaly genocide is the gravest crime of genocide committed against peaceful Azerbaijani people in the course of Armenia’s aggressive war against Azerbaijan. Prior to this, as part of a planned occupation, the peaceful population of the Baghanis Ayrim village in Azerbaijan’s Gazakh region bordering with Armenia and the Azerbaijani-populated villages of Imarat-Garvand, Tug, Salakatin, Akhullu, Khojavand, Jamilly, Nabilar, Meshali, Hasanabad, Karkijahan, Gaybaly, Malibayli, Yukhari and Ashaghi Gushchular, Garadaghli villages in Nagorno-Karabakh, were murdered with particular cruelty. It is sufficient to note that just a few days before the Khojaly genocide, on February 17 1992, 80 Azerbaijanis were massacred in the Garadaghli village in Khojavand.
The town of Khojaly was located in the strategically important part of the Nagorno-Karabakh region in Azerbaijan. It is situated 10 km south-east from Khankandi, between Aghdam-Shusha and Asgaran-Khankandi highways. The strategic importance lies in the fact that the only airport in the Nagorno-Karabakh region was located here. In the second half of February 1992, Khojaly was under total siege by Armenian military units and any attempts by local civilians to break the siege were prevented.
On the night of 25-26 February 1992, in violation of all international legal norms, Armenian armed forces attacked the civilian population of the sieged town of Khojaly with heavy military equipment, killing them with unprecedented brutality and razing the town to the ground. As a result of crime against not only the people of Azerbaijan, but against humanity, 613 civilian Azerbaijanis, including 63 children, 106 women and 70 elders were brutally murdered on grounds of national identity.
National leader Heydar Aliyev sharply protested against the country’s leadership at that time for the absolute defenseless position of Khojaly: “The then authorities` betrayal against the national independence of Azerbaijan and our people, their indifference to their constitutional duties, the continuous political power games, anarchy and arbitrariness reigning in the republic, personal ambitions of some politicians encouraged the Khojaly tragedy. Our citizens` cry for help was ignored, and despite possessing real capabilities to rescue Khojaly, the innocent population was knowingly subjected to this massacre. The Khojaly genocide, which once again exposed the face of Armenian fascism, is a historical crime against not only the people of Azerbaijan, but also against humanity. It must be condemned by the civilized world in compliance with international law.”
The nature and gravity of the crimes committed in the town of Khojaly fully suits the definition of the word genocide as indicated in the Convention “On Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide” adopted on December 9, 1948 under Resolution 260 (III) of the UN General Assembly. The premediated massacre on this territory was committed with intent to annihilate residents solely on grounds that they were Azerbaijanis. Khojaly villagers were beheaded, had their eyes gouged out, skinned, and burned alive. Those trying to flee were killed with a particular brutality by Armenian troops who ambushed them on roads and forests.
Khojaly does not differ from other horrifying tragedies of Katyn, Lidice, Oradour-sur-Glane, Holocaust, Songmy, Rwanda and Srebrenica, which remain in history as deep and shameful scars.
The Khojaly genocide was organized by the political and state leadership of the Republic of Armenia and was carried out by Armenian armed forces, Armenian terrorist groups in Nagorno-Karabakh and the infantry units of the 366th motor rifle regiment of the former USSR army deployed in Khankandi.
The Khojaly genocide is one of a series of acts of mass slaughter aiming to crush those who rose up for the defense of their lands from Armenian armed forces’ aggression, to break their will to fight and annihilate the Azerbaijani population of Nagorno-Karabakh. This was witnessed once again by a massacre committed during the occupation of Aghdaban village in Kalbajar region on April 8, about a month and a half after the Khojaly tragedy. 67 civilians, including children, women and elderly were brutally killed, dozens of people were taken hostage and many others went missing. As a continuation of these events, on August 28, 1992, another ruthless crime – the Balligaya massacre – was committed in the village of Balligaya in Goranboy region. 24 Azerbaijani civilians were killed with special cruelty, including 6 kids and a 6-month-old baby, a 93-year-old woman, and 3 children lost both parents. The corpses of some civilians were burned.
According to a February 24, 1994 Resolution of the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan, February 26 was declared as the Day of the Khojaly genocide.
On February 24, 2017, the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan, referring to its resolutions dated 24 February 1994, 24 February 1995, 27 February 2007 and 24 February 2012, reaffirmed its recognition of mass slaughter of Azerbaijanis in the town of Khojaly over the night of February 25-26, 1992 as genocide, carried out by the military units of the Republic of Armenia, Armenian armed formations in Nagorno-Karabakh and the 366th motor-rifle regiment of the former Soviet army.
Law enforcement bodies of the Republic of Azerbaijan continue to take measures to identify and prosecute the persons responsible for committing genocide in the town of Khojaly.
Speaking about the Khojaly genocide, national leader Heydar Aliyev said: “We have a duty to the people and the government of Azerbaijan to convey to the world community, to parliaments and to public organizations the truths, facts and evidence about the Khojaly genocide as well as the atrocities committed against our people in the Nagorno-Karabakh region in order to achieve proper legal and political recognition of these events as a real act of genocide. This is a sacred duty we share as citizens and fellow humans for the victims of the genocide. On the other hand, ensuring that idolizers, organizers and perpetrators of genocides are brought to justice is a crucial step for preventing a repeat of such brutal acts against humanity in general.”
Promotional activities carried out under “Justice for Khojaly” campaign organized by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation is widening its scope every year. As a result of systematic efforts to increase the international community’s awareness of the Khojaly genocide, the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, as well as the parliaments of Mexico, Pakistan, Czech Republic, Peru, Columbia, Panama, Honduras, Indonesia, Sudan, Guatemala, Paraguay and Djibouti recognized the mass killings committed in the town of Khojaly as a genocidal crime. The parliaments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jordan, Slovenia, Scotland, as well as executive and legislative bodies of more than 20 American states strongly condemned and recognized the Khojaly events as a massacre.
Annual events are organized to remember the Khojaly genocide under orders of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. In 2017, a nationwide march was held in Baku to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Khojaly genocide. Slogans reading “The world must recognize the Khojaly genocide”, “Justice for Khojaly”, “Do not forget Khojaly”, “No to Armenian fascism”, “Khojaly – genocide of 20th century”, “The criminals won’t go unpunished’ and others were displayed on large monitors along the streets during the rally.