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 AzSSR authorities, in particular, with Meskhetian Turks from the Fergana valley of Uzbekistan, to give it a 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 international public conscious and 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 of 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. For the period till neutralizing the fire points in Khojalu, over 20 Armenian civilians had been killed and hundreds had been kidnapped; thousands of cattle and small cattle had been driven away from the nearby collective and private farms.
Due to the lasting blockade, 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 time, the food products, medicines, and fuel were exhausted, as a result of which lifting the blockade from the airport and neutralizing the enemy’s fire points in Khojalu became an extremely important step for the physical survival of Nagorno Karabakh’s population, 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 weapon there. The Azerbaijani authorities deployed numerous OMON units in Khojalu; besides, fighters of the Azerbaijani Popular Front settled in Khojalu. The NKR leadership had to prevent the intended operation of the Azerbaijani armed forces on the attack of the Armenian regional center of Askeran and later – 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 NKR self-defense forces’ units 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 suburb of Khojalu to the north-east, along the Karkar River bed and from the north suburb of the settlement to the north-east. But, the Azerbaijani authorities did nothing to lead the civilian population out of the military activities area.
During the military operation in Khojalu, the NKR self-defense forces released 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 territory, where frames 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 summer 1993, which excluded any access to the territory for the Karabakh Army’s units.
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 the Aghdam region, 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 frames 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 film twice, with a two-day break. The film testifies that some bodies had been disfigured by the second filming.
During the second fly to the area of mass killing of the people, March 2, 1992, the journalists noted that the bodies’ position on the land and the degree of the injuries and wounds had strikingly changed. And this was in the territory fully controlled by the Azerbaijani Popular Front till the summer of 1993. Just this 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 were fired by the Armenian party.
This fact was so shocking for Mustafaev that he introduced 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 about what you have noticed. Or, you’ll be killed”.
Hesitating that is was committed by the Armenian party, Mustafaev started his independent investigation. But, after his information 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 state figures in it”, for which the Azerbaijani Popular Front, on coming to power in summer 1992, arrested him and brought to death in the prison ward…
Czech journalist Yana 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 and assessments on 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 writes: “The town and its citizens were deliberately sacrificed to the political goal” (Zercalo Azerbaijani newspaper, July 1992).
Following is the testimony by Tamerlan Karaev, in due time 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, “The bloodshed will profit us. 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 that “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; according to the parliamentary commission’s “specification”, it made 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 number 855 was put in the column of ‘population’ opposite the name of ‘Khojalu’.
In early March 1992, Azerbaijani journalists Ilya Balakhanov and Vugar Khalilov brought to the office of Memorial Human Rights Center a videocassette with the record of the place of Khojalu inhabitants’ killing made by Baku TV reporters from a military helicopter and just in place. Actually, all the attendants admitted that the number of the casualties in the video didn’t exceed 50-60 people.
It should be also 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, strictly and professionally treating 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. Why then should they fire? Especially in the area near Aghdam, where sufficient forces were available for assisting the people”.
About 10 years later, the Azerbaijani ex-president confirmed his own idea in the interview to Novoye Vremya magazine, “The massacre of the Khojalu inhabitants was obviously organized by somebody for dismissing the power 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 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, in the entrance into his house in Baku by a stranger. And Eynulla Fatullaev was convicted of a series of accusations, including of high treason…
AR ex-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 systematically destroyed the 55-thousand town of Stepanakert and other nearby Armenian settlements from Grad facility took the second place.
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 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 for suppressing also the opposition with its support”.
As we see, the Khojalu inhabitants were merely left in the lurch; 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 victims. It should be also noted that the corresponding order, regulating the behavior of the NKR self-defense forces, strictly prohibited violence over 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 the Moscow Human Rights Center of Memorial Association, 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 Memorial Moscow 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 take any actions on mass massacre of the civilians in the settlement of Khojalu.
It should be also noted that on February 26, 47 Armenians were taken 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 we have 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 introduce 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, committed; 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.
NKR MFA Information Department
Photo № 8. Skeletons in rags and tatters
A very interesting false photograph!
We would like to remind one more time that the bodies remained at Nakhijevanik for only a few hours and could have turned into skeletons only in one case: if they had been burned. However, there were no conflagrations there. And even if we find fires conceivable, it seems very strange, that the bodies burned down, while the clothes didn’t. Pay attention to the fact that in the colored photo we can see nothing beneath the clothes: there are no bodies there, only skeletons.
And there is no point in claiming that the skull is taken off while the arms and legs are “in there usual place”.
It is evident that this is an exhumed body of a man who died a very long time ago. By the way, judging by the expressions on “spectators’” faces, there cannot be found signs of special grief on them.
You can find more information about these events at the following web site (www.xocali.net).