The Land of Fire

The mass killing of Azerbaijani civilians by Armenian forces and the 366th CIS regiment in the town of Khojaly

The Khojaly massacre was the mass killing of Azerbaijani civilians by Armenian forces and the 366th CIS regiment in the town of Khojaly on 26 February 1992. The event became the largest single massacre throughout the entire Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Khojaly was an Azerbaijani-populated town of some 6,300 people in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region of Azerbaijan SSR, also housing the region's only airport in 1992. The town was subject to daily shelling and total blockade by Armenian forces during the First Nagorno-Karabakh War. Without supply of electricity, gas, or water, it was defended by the local forces consisting of about 160 lightly armed men. The Armenian forces, along with some troops of the 366th CIS regiment, launched an offensive in early 1992, forcing almost the entire Azerbaijani population of the enclave to flee, and committing "unconscionable acts of violence against civilians" as they fled.

On the night of 26 February 1992, the Armenian forces seized the town, taking prisoner or killing the civilians remaining in it. At the same time, several large groups of Azerbaijani civilians, along with some self-defense forces in some of them, were trying to escape the town and move towards the Azerbaijani-controlled territories. However, Armenian forces fired upon the fleeing Azerbaijani refugees, resulting in hundreds of deaths.

The Khojaly genocide is one of the most terrible and tragic pages of Azerbaijan history. Azerbaijan's national leader Heydar Aliyev said in his speech addressed to the nation of Azerbaijan on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Khojaly genocide: "This merciless and cruel genocide was the most dreadful mass terror act in the history of humankind."

It should be mentioned that Azerbaijan has endured ethnic cleansing and genocide by Armenian nationalist-chauvinists for 200 years. The people of Azerbaijan were deported from their historical lands and became refugees and internally displaced persons because of Armenian occupation. Azerbaijanis were also forced from their historical lands during the Soviet period. 150,000 Azerbaijanis were deported from Armenia and placed in the Kur-Araz plain from1948-1953. 250,000 Azerbaijanis were forced from their historical territories in 1988 and Armenia became a mono-ethnical state. The Daghlig Garabagh events, which began in 1988 along with continuous efforts to implement the Armenian desire of building a state from sea to sea, led to the destruction of towns and villages, murder of thousands of innocent people, as well as the exile of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis from their native lands.

The Armenian government wanted to annex Daghlig Garabagh despite international legal norms and demonstrates their readiness to resort to any kind of crime and barbarism for the sake of its ideology. The Khojaly genocide - the tragedy of the 20th century - was a result of this aggressive and criminal policy. This tragedy, which took place in the 20th century was one of the most serious crimes not only against the people of Azerbaijan, but humanity as a whole. The Khojaly genocide is comparable to the genocides in Khatin, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Songmi.

What was Armenians' purpose in Khojaly? On one hand that was the liquidation of the strategic hindrance in the form of Azerbaijani residents of the mountainous part of Nagorny Kharabakh. On the other hand that was the razing of Khojaly to the ground. Because Khojaly was an inhabited place, which reflected the history and traditions of Azerbaijan since the ancient times. This distinct culture is classified as Khojaly-Gadabay in the Azerbaijani history. Cromlechs, dolmens, Cyclops, tumuluses of Khojaly, as well as different housing wares are the patterns of material culture that reflect the dynamics of social development. The destruction of all these material culture monuments and Khojaly graveyard - one of the most ancient cemeteries in history - after the Armenian occupation is are obvious examples of Armenian barbarism and aggression against the world culture.

The crime should not remained without punishment. Armenian millitary-political agression must be condemned by world community. International organizations, parlaments of the world states must give political-legal appraisal of Khojaly genocide - millitary crime, commited by the Armenian Republic in the Azerbaijan territories.