By Menkiti Onyebuchi Bernie, Features Editor

The world was held in shock following the trails of news of the events in Khojaly 27 years ago. Countries such as USA, France, Germany, Great Britain and a host of others were terrified by the impunity and with the boldness with which it was carried out.

It was a historical dark time, a curtain between a painful memory and the need to move ahead to new historical beginnings for the country of Azerbaijan. It was an event that happened between 1988-1994, and one which left in it’s wake not only deaths but also a faded national psyche, battered country and shattered hopes.

The annual commemoration of the massacre as an aftermath of the war isn’t to reflect on the pains, but to draw inspiration over what has become a unifying bond for the larger citizens of Azerbaijan and to build a strong bond of diplomatic rapproachment between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The massacre was a product of a war which began in the southwestern Nagorno-Karabakh area of Azerbaijan. Within the war period as stated inter alia, it was recorded that it was troops from neighboring Armenia and Russia committed one of world’s most horrendous genocide. They committed a crime against humanity when they slaughtered hundreds of Azeri’s, an ethnic group domiciled in the town of Khojaly. Amongst those massacred were women and children. Khojaly is a popular Azerbaijani town located about 230 miles, west of its capital, Baku.

The main story about the Khojaly massacre  hinges on the act of terror carried out by the Armenian millitary forces who committed genocides in the town of Khojaly. A town with a population of seven thousand people on Februrary 26, 1992. There were three thousand people in the town at the time when the Armenian millitary forces’ attacked. While the attack lasted, most part of the population deserted. What was supposed to be a one off became a four month blockade.

During the occupational aggression and massacre, about 613 people were killed. The spread of death read; 106 women, 63 children, 70 old men were amongst the dead. It is recorded in the manual of the massacre that officially 8 families were annihilated, 130 children lost a parent, while about 25 lost both parent. Further unfortunately, about 1275 were taken hostage, while the fate of 150 of Azerbaijani’s remained unknown.

The waves of the tragedy left marks of strife and anguish, and remained a reflective glass through which Azerbiajan conducts her affairs. Today marks the 27th anniversary of this hellish tragedy, one which is remembered every February with an organized citizenry tributes and march pasts.

In the sight of the strife between the two countries, Azerbiajan and Armenia, Armenia sought to annex Daghlig Garabagh in her quest to show superior strength. Inspite of the clarity of international law and the United Nations position, they showed zealousness in taking drastic actions to fulfil their desire.

The Khojaly genocide was in part a direct consequence of Armenia’s aggressive policy towards Azerbaijan. 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.

Historically, the Khojaly massacre was a continuation of aggression against Azerbaijan by Armenia Nationalist Forces. For close to 200 years, the Armenians had perpetually laid onslaught against the peace of Azerbaijan that many of their lands were confiscted and taken over by Armenian forces. Azerbaijani’s subsequently became refugees and internally displaced people in their country.

Furthermore, Azerbaijanis living in Armenia were humiliated and about 150,000 forcefully deported and left to suffer at a place called Kur-Arzaz. Between the year 1948 and 1953 about 250,000 Azerbaijanis were also forced to leave their ancestral historical territories as prisoners of war with little or no provision of the basic needs of life.

These nefarious Armenian onslaughts against innocent Azerbaijanis did not end. It began to escalate further with the Daghlign Garabagh events which began to unfolding by 1988.

The Armenians had for years had a long national desire for expansion to the fringes of Azerbaijan water territories. Her desire to see to the achievement of this expansionist desire became a key foreign policy thrust. It was in the quest to see to the light of it that led to the death of many Azerbaijanis and the destruction of towns and villages, and again, the deliberate exile of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis from their native land.

One important reflections of the massacre was the murder of the Khojaly cultural heritage. Khojaly has a rich history which has it’s root in ancient times. This peculiar culture was known as Khojaly-Gadabay in the Azerbaijani history. It is one of Azerbaijan’s most outstanding historical pride.

Wares such as Cromlechs, Cyclops, Tumuluses of Khojaly and their special patterns reflected the dynamics of Khojaly’s advancement and social development. The eventual destruction of these material culture and monuments following the Armenian occupation spurned a new call against aggression against culture.

Till date, the Republic of Azerbaijan owns a right to seek a legal high way through the International Court raising issues of genocide and seeking for compensation. However to many Azerbaijanis, those who committed the heinous crime must not go unpunished. Yet in the spirit of diplomacy the two countries can seek for new ways to scale down tensions and build a wall of peace and a bridge of cordial relationship that can out last the shocking incident of 26th February, 1992.