Khojaly victims remembered in Moscow

On February 28, an evening called “Eternity of Memory” took place at Ukraine Hotel’s congress hall in Moscow, to mark the 25th anniversary of the Khojaly genocide, in the framework of the international campaign “Justice for Khojaly”.

Organized by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Azerbaijan’s Embassy in Russia, Azerbaijani Youth Organization of Russia and All-Russian Azerbaijanis Congress, the memorial evening was attended by Vice-president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Leyla Aliyeva.

Literature and booklets about Armenia-Azerbaijan, Daghlyg Garabagh conflict and Khojaly genocide were presented in the congress hall’s foyer, and an exhibition called “Destinies of 25 Khojaly residents” was arranged. Life stories of the people who have been through the Khojaly horror are presented here. The booklet “Destinies of 25 Khojaly residents” has been printed in the framework of the international campaign “Justice for Khojaly”, following the initiative of Vice-president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Leyla Aliyeva.

Video materials about the Khojaly tragedy were shown on monitors installed in the foyer of the congress hall.

In the framework of the event, presentation of the book “8 Days in Armenian Captivity. Recollections of a Khojaly girl” by Khojaly resident Durdana Aghayeva took place. The book talks about the destiny of a 20-year old girl from Khojaly who had been through the Khojaly genocide and was taken prisoner by Armenians. Participating in the memorial evening, D. Aghayeva talked about the horrors she had been through while in Armenian captivity, the ruthless tortures she had been subjected, as well as her life after these tragic events, and the horrifying traces these events has left in her destiny and memory.

Students of the S.Stroganov Moscow State Industrial Production Academy had drawn pictures on the themes of Khojaly, war, peace and justice in an online regime.

The official part of the evening started with a minute of silence to revere the victims of the Khojaly genocide.

Vice-president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Leyla Aliyeva, thanking all who had come to revere the victims of Khojaly, said: “On the night from the 25th to the 26th of February 1992, Armenian armed forces, having occupied Khojaly town of Azerbaijan while civilians were sleeping, killed 613 innocent people, including 106 women, 63 children and 70 elders with special cruelty, 8 families annihilated completely, and 1275 people were taken prisoner. They say time heels wounds, bitter moments are forgotten. But time is no cure for our wounds. The victims of Khojaly have been engraved in our memory forever.”

It was mentioned that 25 years have passed since those horrifying tragedy. Children who have lived through the Khojaly massacre have grown up and become parents themselves. But so far they cannot return to their homes, native lands. This is a painful and unjust situation. It is of paramount important that the world society give a legal assessment of this tragedy and that the perpetrators be punished.

The Armenia-Azerbaijan, Daghlyg Garabagh conflict has been continuing for about 30 years, 20 percent of our lands is under occupation, and the country has over a million refugees and IDPs. Azerbaijan is a peace-loving country, always well-known for its tolerance. For centuries, representatives of different nations, religions and cultures have lived in our country in a peaceful environment, and we have been having peaceful relations with our neighbours. Nevertheless, today we are ready to be merciless, as we are defending our territorial integrity, fight for our own lands.”

It was mentioned that the campaign “Justice for Khojaly” started in 2008: “The campaign aims at delivering correct information to the world society about this horrible tragedy. Events are held these days in almost all countries of the world to mark the Khojaly tragedy. We hold conferences, seminars and exhibitions, shoot films, and publish books. In recent days, mourning concerts took place in Vilnius, Bern, Athens, London and Paris, and exhibition was arranged in Berlin and an international conference dedicated to the victims of Khojaly took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Presentation of the film “Endless Corridor”, which talks about the horrors of Khojaly, took place recently in the USA. This film has been made by people who have no relationship to the sides of the conflict, who have great universal values.”

The long years of friendly and kind neighbourhood relations between Azerbaijan and Russia were mentioned: “I would like to thank you today for supporting us and for sharing our grief. We will not be satisfied with what we have achieved and will do everything to make the world aware of this horrible event so that such an event never recurs in any part of the world.”

It was brought to attention that the campaign “Justice for Khojaly” was supported by tens of world states: “Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Pakistan, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, Czech Republic, Jordan, Sudan, Panama, Honduras and Indonesian parliaments, legislative bodies of over 20 states of USA, as well as the Islamic Cooperation Organization have recognized the Khojaly tragedy as a genocide. Recently, Djibouti National Assembly and Scotland’s parliament too passed resolutions condemning the Khojaly genocide.”

Leyla Aliyeva gave information about the booklets containing life stories of 25 Khojaly residents who could manage to escape the massacre, and the book by Durdana Aghayeva called “8 Days in Armenian Captivity. Recollections of a Khojaly girl”. She, calling on everybody wishing to support the campaign via “” website, said: “It is impossible to read this book without experiencing shock. This book talks about all the horrors and tortures this poor girl has been through. As she had said, these 8 days seemed like 800 years.”

Leyla Aliyeva concluded her speech by these words: “Regardless of all of these, Azerbaijani people remains strong-willed, and today Azerbaijan is a strong, independent and developing country. Memories of the Khojaly victims are living in our thoughts, in the works we do, and in our souls. We believe that justice will gain victory, Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity will be restored, and all refugees and IDPs will return to their homes.”

Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Russia Polad Bulbuloghlu said the international society and organizations have behaved as an outside observers only and preferred to silently observe how all high principles and ideals that they have to cherish are depressed in Azerbaijan. “Authors” of this merciless night should receive the punishment they deserve. The diplomat said: “I, as an ambassador of my country, a cultural figure, a person with rich life experience, want to specially thank Leyla Aliyeva for being the initiator of the process, which aims to get the Khojaly tragedy recognized on an international level. It is by no chance that “justice” is the main word of the campaign. I am confident that securing the victory of justice in relation to Khojaly is not only our duty before the memories of the victims of this tragedy, it is also the duty of all people who are responsible for the future of their people and of the world, as a whole.”

Chairperson of the Russian Federation State Duma’s International Affairs Committee Leonid Slutski said that the Khojaly tragedy should be given a just assessment. He said: “The perpetrators of these events should be tried in our generation’s lifetime, rather than a hundred year from now. We have no right to leave solution of such bloody conflicts as the Daghlyg Garabagh conflict to our grandchildren, not to mention our children.”

Deputy of the Russian State Duma, head of the Russia-Azerbaijan Interparliamentary Friendship Group Dmitry Savelyev said those people have committed an atrocious crime in Khojaly. He said: “Those who have committed this crime may not be considered a human being. These predators are far from such feelings as compassion and mercy. They have killed not only men who were capable of fighting, but also old people, women and children. This horrible crime has been committed not only against Azerbaijan, but also against the whole mankind.”

D. Savelyev noted that this crime should be given assessment both in Russia and in the whole world at a state level. He said: “Our parliament too should make its assessment. We have to be vocal about this, because if we keep silence, such crimes will recur in other parts of the world and they will be more victims. This is why we revere each year the memories of innocent men, women, children and elderly who have been mercilessly killed. Everyone who carries this grief in his heart can feel a true human.”

Then a concert by “Musica Viva” Moscow Chamber Orchestra took place under the leadership of Russia’s People’s Artist Alexander Rudin.

The memorial evening was attended by representatives of the Russian society, ambassadors of a number of foreign countries accredited in Moscow, and well-known politicians.