Flag Day, and the freedom of Shusha, Azerbaijan celebrates changing tides in the war

By | Rachel Brooks

November 9, 2020 

Above image retrieved from social media, fair use.

Azerbaijan celebrated the Republic’s Flag Day on a high note. Over the weekend, the city of Shusha was liberated by Azerbaijani forces and was returned to the Republic of Azerbaijan. Victories along the Nagorno-Karabakh have changed the tides in the war for the region. As the path was paved for a potential lasting piece, the Azerbaijani community around the world celebrated. 

“The Embassy of Israel congratulates the people of Azerbaijan on State Flag Day,” tweeted Israel in Azerbaijan. 

Journalist and host of the web show Duzdanisaq Ismail Djalilov was a proud Azerbaijani expatriate to the United States in this historic moment. Djalilov currently lives with his husband in Virginia, the United States, but was originally from Baku, Azerbaijan. 

“I rarely, if ever, say that I can speak for the majority of the Azerbaijani people. But in this case, I do. Shusha’s liberation, to an Azerbaijani psyche, whether we live inside or outside the country, is impossible to overstate,” said Djalilov. 

“The closest comparison that I can think of is that of New York City to an American. Shusha, of course, is a small town, with no skyscrapers and such. But it is where our Gershwins came from.” 

Djalilov referred to the American composer George Gerswhin who was active in the early 20th century, see Britannica for a brief history. 

Check out a recent episode of Duzdanisaq below!


“It’s where our Broadway took its roots. It’s where our culture, opera music, literature comes from. It’s our ancient capital like New York was once the capital of the United States.  It is home to a large swath of our aristocracy and philosophers. Baku is our engine, but Shusha is the realm where the soul resides.” 

Djalilov also noted the depth of the cut the loss of Shusha was to the Azerbaijani people. Regaining the city of Shusha is effectively a resurrection of the Azerbaijani people as an ethnic and national identity. The reclamation of Azerbaijan was seen as the road paving the way to repatriation for the Azerbaijani people. 

“The fall of Shusha to the Armenian occupation was a personal tragedy for everyone, even if we did not have roots from there, and I still remember that day. In one sentence, this is a sigh of relief for a nation that was waiting to exhale for those 30 years.” 

When asked what effects the liberation of Shusha will have on Azerbaijani culture moving forward, Djalilov was optimistic. He was confident that the liberation would heal the devastation Azerbaijani felt within the whole people group. 

“It is a wound that can finally heal. We have returned not only the burial place of our famous musicians, composers, writers. We have become whole again. Shusha and its magical cultural magnetism will inspire countless generations of new poets, philosophers, and singers,” said Djalilov.  

“This will mean a lot for the global culture too, as we will continue contributing to the global culture and civilization. Our healing will take some time, but now that our soul is back, it will be a certainty.” 

Azerbaijan may be on the road to healing, but it will not without its complications. In the Second Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, there was grave damage to the civilian life of the 2020 era. Ganja saw devastating shelling events that led to the death of women and children. Barda rallied around the evisceration by shelling ordinance death of an eight-year-old child. Neither city was in the immediate conflict zone. Barda City’s shelling events likewise involved Smerch missiles and cluster munitions, a fact that was investigated by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Cluster munitions are banned weapons. 

Armenian war crimes also included shelling the Tartar region during funerals, and the damages of cemeteries. Shusha, the soul of Azerbaijan, was claimed as part of Azerbaijan by Armenia and became the target of war propaganda that Armenia used to accuse the Azerbaijani of targeting civilians when a missile event led to the damages of an ancient church in the city.