Azerbaijan

Interview with Tunzala Valimammadova, Aghdam before and after the war

Interview with Tunzala Valimammadova, 64 years old, Banovshalar settlement of Aghdam city.

Interview by Irina Tsukerman. 

Above image: “Aghdam, Mosque, 2010.08.18 (02)” by Vahe Martirosyan is licensed under CC BY 2.0

When and under what circumstances you left Aghdam? What were your memories of the city before invasion and departure?

I left Aghdam on July 23, 1993, holding the hand of my youngest daughter Gunel. On July 27, our house burned down. I was constantly visiting our house and did not want to leave. On July 4, I saw a large crowd. As I approached, I saw that our tanks wanted to return, and I said you had to pass me (crying).

After leaving Aghdam, we settled in tent camp No. 1 in Barda city. In the tent camp in Barda, the current President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Supreme Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev, told us that there would not be a single tent camp left in Azerbaijan. He kept his word.

On November 24, 1994, the 1st International Conference of World Refugee Women was held in the UAE, and I was the first Azerbaijani woman to attend that conference. My speech was called “Wail from Muslim Azerbaijan”. Later, I participated in various conferences in China and the United States.

So many beautiful constructions were built in Aghdam lately. There was a big market there. People from different regions came to Adam to shop. Many areas of industry were developed. Cotton growing, viticulture, sericulture, and animal husbandry were developed. There was also a carpet factory. These carpets were sent all over the world.

There was an equestrian factory. Karabakh horses were kept in this factory. There was also a machine-tool factory, a champagne factory, and a cannery. For the second time in the world and for the first time in Azerbaijan, a bread museum was operating in Aghdam. There were very rare copies in this museum. There was a place called Imarat. The graves of Khurshudbanu Natavan and Karabakh khans were located here. Aghdam was rich with ancient and historical temples.

How do they feel about the upcoming reintegration? 

We were waiting for Aghdam with great longing. Aghdam has been waiting for us for 28 years. I always said forgive us. I will apologize to him. I hope he forgives now (crying). We reunited in Aghdam thanks to the President. I want to say, Aghdam, meet us! 

Do you hope to return home? what are you looking forward to doing it?

When I return to Aghdam, I will go to Garagaji Cemetery. I will visit the grave of my father. I will visit the grave of our martyrs. 

Any comments on plans to contribute to rebuilding the city?

Yes. Aghdam is called the city of spirits. Aghdam will be rebuilt thanks to his sons and all Azerbaijanis. I am ready to do everything for Aghdam to flourish.