On February 26, Azerbaijan commemorates officially the next anniversary of the so called Khojalu massacre, although in 90’s they were trying to ignore many details, as they were, to put it mildly, not so profitable to the authorities of Baku.
About three decades later, when the generation has changed, when they have managed to distort the real picture of the crime, the theme is kept on the agenda just for manipulation and blackmail. But the Artsakh people remember the military act on February 25-26, 1992 as a necessity towards freeing Artsakh from the chain of death.
In the early 90’s the village of Khojalu was of special significance. From 1988 to 1992, the population was tripled, and in early 1992 it became the biggest launching pad for indiscriminate artillery and rocket fire in Artsakh after Shushi.” Later, by gathering the established facts, we can say that the armed forces included at least 1000 members”,- says Vitali Balasanyan, secretary of the Security Council of Artsakh, commander of self-defense forces of Askeran in February, 1992, summing up the numbers and facts. During 1991-1992 Khojalu had been fulfilling its role: systematic and intense artillery and rocket fire against civilian targets in Stepanakert paralyzed the city, destroying hospitals, administrative buildings, schools, and homes. By controlling Khojalu, Azerbaijan prevented the connection between Stepanakert and Martakert, prohibited access to Karabakh’s airport, the only link with the outside world. Furthermore, Khojalu was also used as a staging area for military offensives on Stepanakert and nearby Armenian-populated villages. Thus, Khojalu became a legitimate military target for Self-Defense Forces of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic. “We should have neutralized this military target as soon as possible, to release Stepanakert from double and even triple blockade”, - confirms Vitaly Balassanyan.
The organizers of the military operations had taken into account the need to evacuate the civilian population. The NKR authorities transmitted this information by radio, TV, loudspeakers, leaflets and other methods to warn the Khojalu civilian population of the upcoming operation, giving them an opportunity to exit the area through a safe corridor. “We warned them on February 23, 24 and even 25, immediately before the beginning of the operation”, -reaffirms Vitali Balassanyan.
The majority of the population managed to leave the village. The captured civilians were returned to Azerbaijan in the following days. The massacre was committed in Aghdam, outside of the provided corridor, an area then fully controlled by Azerbaijan. “The massacre, if that really happened, occurred not on the territory of the village of Khojalu or on the route of the humanitarian corridor, but on the approaches to the town of Agdam - on a territory several kilometers away from Khojalu and near the borderline of Azerbaijan, fully under Azeri control ”, -emphasizes analyst Vahram Atanesyan.”If the bodies of the victims were on the territories under our control, how could they take photos of them? It’s absurd. Does that mean we let the Azeri journalists come, take photos and go? The pictures are obviously taken from the ground”, - says Vitali Balassanyan making reference to logic.
In those days nobody in Azerbaijan accused Armenians of the events in Khojalu, which were the results solely of political intrigues and a struggle for power in Azerbaijan. At that time, there was a task to change the power in Azerbaijan. That was realized a few days after the events in Khojalu. The acting authorities were blamed for committing this crime against their own people in the name of political intrigues and the struggle for power. Even a parliamentary commission had been established to find those guilty. It’s, naturally, about the former authorities of Azerbaijan.
Armenians were blamed several years later, when the organizers of the crime of Khojalu came to power in Azerbaijan. “Politics changed dramatically when Heydar Aliyev came to power. In 1994 he signed a decree proclaiming the day of genocide in Khojalu by stopping the work of the parliamentary committee on Khojalu events and closing the criminal case”,- reminds Vahram Atanesyan.
Today Khojalu has become one of the main tools of the Azerbaijani propaganda. Vahram Atanesyan reveals that the Armenian side has underestimated the role of Baku's fraud and now has a serious problem. He even has a booklet of publications on Khojalu events, but thinks that it is not enough. The real events of Khojalu massacre remain overshadowed. At the end of January, 1992 the president of Azerbaijan explicitly instructed to open rocket fire against civilian targets in Stepanakert and destruct them, the international community knows nothing about the tragedy of Ghazanchi today, the mass killings of Armenians in the village of Maragha have been carried out in spring of the same year. These are facts, showing that Baku committed acts of Genocide against Armenians anytime they had that opportunity and chance”, - analyzes Vahram Atanesyan.
The analyst points out the necessity of coordinated struggle on this subject reminding that he has been telling the same for the last years.