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Letters: 29th anniversary of the Khojaly Massacre

February 17, 2021

On February 26, Azerbaijani people will solemnly observe the 29th anniversary of the Khojaly Massacre, Europe’s first mass atrocity since World War II. On that night in 1992, the Armenian forces, armed by the 366th infantry regiment of the Russian army, attacked the town of Khojaly in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. Estimated 613 fleeing residents of the town, including 106 women and 63 children, were chased and brutally murdered by the Armenian fighters. Hundreds of civilians went missing, over a thousand received permanent health damage, 1,275 were taken hostage, and over 150 children lost one or both parents.

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the New York Times, other media outlets and rights watchdogs documented the atrocity. The Armenian field commander, Monte Melkonian, provided a shocking witness account of the “killing fields” near Khojaly in his diary, reproving his fellow fighters of the war crime. Former Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan also admitted that it was an act of revenge against Azerbaijanis. Yet officially, the Armenian government and the Armenian-American interest groups continue denying the atrocity and justice to its victims.

Speaking to the UN General Assembly on the occasion of the Holocaust Remembrance in January 2015, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin highlighted the Khojaly Massacre among the genocidal acts that the international community failed to prevent. The painful memory of Khojaly remains an obstacle for the Armenian-Azerbaijani reconciliation also actively sought by the United States. On this occasion, I join the Azerbaijani-American Council and the community to commemorate the Khojaly Massacre and to support its recognition through public statements.

Ergun Kirlikovalu

Irvine, CA