Twenty years ago today, Azerbaijanis witnessed one of the most brutal events in their history when the town of Khojaly in Azerbaijan, with its 7,000 population, came under indiscriminate attack by Armenians.
The inhabitants were generally people who were deported en masse from Armenia in the course of the war between 1988 and 1990.
In 1992, on the night of Feb. 25-26 the Armenian Army attacked the town. Innocent, unarmed people who couldn’t understand what they were facing fled for their lives. However, all entrance and exit points of the town were closed. On that night, Armenian soldiers bloodthirstily shot everybody -- including women, children and the elderly.
The official death toll of the massacre is at least 613 -- 106 were women and 63 were children; 160 residents of the town are still missing and 76 are crippled. Eight families were completely exterminated, and 154 children became orphans. It was only possible to bury the bodies of 335 murdered people. The feet of 200 Khojaly residents, who were trying to escape from the hail of bullets, froze and became gangrenous, while 1257 residents of the town -- captives and prisoners -- were tortured by Armenian soldiers.
The people who committed this savagery have gone unpunished as the world has ignored this massacre.
It is now time to raise our voices to remember the victims of Khojaly and call on the international community not to turn a blind eye to one of world’s most bloody massacres in modern history to prevent a similar tragedy from happening again. Turks and Azerbaijanis are gathering to march, starting from İstanbul’s Taksim Square on Sunday, to remember the victims.
The objective of the rally is to share this great pain with our Turkish brothers on the 20th anniversary of the massacre, which independent Azerbaijan experienced in the recent past and to make the entire world hear our voices.
For 20 years, 20 percent of Azerbaijani territories have been occupied by Armenians, and more than one million Azerbaijani people have been deprived of the land of their fathers and ancestors. Not leaving us alone on this day, our Turkish siblings are gathering in Taksim Square on Feb. 26, 2012, at 14:00 p.m. to tell the entire world about the Khojaly massacre.
By gathering we are saying we are all from Khojaly. We call for an end to Armenian lies. We say that Armenians committed the actual massacre. We hope the world learns a lesson from it. We hope people no longer suffer and children no longer die. We hope another Khojaly tragedy won’t occur again.
Do not forget the ones who ruthlessly murdered our ancestors and burned them alive in Eastern Anatolia and the Caucasus in the early 20th century and who murdered numerous Turkish diplomats in cold blood in various countries in the name of avenging the “Armenian genocide” in the second half of the same century.
We call on you not to forget murders committed by the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) terrorist organization against Turks or the graves of Turks who were mercilessly murdered by Armenians in Kars, Van and many other cities in East Anatolia during World War I.
We call on you not to let Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan, who said, “We seized Karabakh from Azerbaijan, and future generations shall seize Mount Ararat,” challenge Turkey.
In the aftermath of its declaration of sovereignty, Azerbaijan has always proved that it isn’t a purported but an active supporter of Turkic Union. Azerbaijan and Turkey stand up for each other’s interests in all platforms.
At various times in history, we protected and strengthened this brotherhood over and over at the cost of our blood and life. In the war of Çanakkale (Dardanelles), which shaped Turkey’s destiny, hundreds of Azerbaijani Turks succored their siblings with their weapons. Selling their jewelry, even our women contributed their best to the Turkish people in matters of life and death. With respect and pride, we always remember that heroic Turkish soldiers commanded by Nuri Pasha liberated our people in 1918 and served Azerbaijan’s cause of freedom with their souls and hearts.
While Azerbaijan and Turkey have been exposed to very unfair accusations recently, we need brotherly ties more than ever. Now we seek ways to stand against difficulty and repression. While we are becoming more developed day-by-day in a globalized world, we should be aware of each other; we should know each other better and become more attached to each other.
Today, along with the martyrs of Khojaly, we remember all martyrs of Turkey, Azerbaijan and the Turkic world, and we hope their souls rest in peace. They belong to all of us. We hope those who perpetrated this massacre will one day acknowledge the facts and feel ashamed.
*Ceyhun Osmanlı is a member of the Azerbaijani Parliament.