By | Rachel Brooks
February 16, 2021
The brutality of the Khojaly Massacre is an irrefutable fact thanks to the efforts of citizen journalist Chingiz Mustafayev, and those many others who have documented the story on film. Despite the concrete evidence, the Armenian government of recent history and the present have reacted politically to the massacre. Denialism has cast its shadow over the Khojaly events.
By contrast, Armenian academia has gone to lengths to theorize and analyze political motivations from the Azerbaijani side of First Karabakh conflict affairs that would provide absolution for the frightful subject. An example of this is with the book The Process of Formation of the Azeri Elite 1989-1994” by Liana Eyovan written in 2012, which accused the Azerbaijani government of allowing Khojaly to happen deliberately. The motive given in this book was Azerbaijan needed the Khojaly massacre to insight the people to remove an unpopular president contemporary with the First Karabakh War.
Fretted with political infighting within, the Armenian political arm requires the support and rally of the Armenian diaspora. This perpetuates the “Greater Armenia” politicization of Armenia’s land expansion demand narrative. As part of the historical agenda of this land expansion narrative, denial of political ethnic cleansing pogroms and ethnic targeting political rhetoric still present an issue in contemporary Armenia. The Armenian culture also experiences a troubling issue with interracial rights to present. For example, in recent news, a memorial of the Jewish Holocaust was destroyed in Yerevan.
The ANCA’s response to Khojaly was republished by the Azerbaijani consulate in Los Angeles, California, U.S. The statements of this representative are not based on the facts of what transpired the night of the Khojaly massacre, but are based on a common political narrative within the Armenian republic.
The Khojaly Massacre has been a well-documented but overlooked event in the human history of the last 30 years. It is the bloodiest massacre to have transpired during the First Karabakh War, with 613 people killed. The Politicon has since captioned the news documentation of these events for an English-speaking audience. The news clips contemporary with the events of Khojaly reveal the process of collecting the dead. Among the dead were 63 children, 106 women, and 70 elderly. At least eight families were completely annihilated.
The Politicon’s video has many striking images of the massacre, which may become lost in the swirl of the narrative. In the brown winter grass of Karabakh, a news camera zooms in on the form of a fallen child. The stiff form wears a purple coat, and bright red pants, belonging to little legs that are curled close to the body. A tuft of long dark hair rolls from the hood of the purple jacket, mingling with the grass. A soldier kneels near the child where they lay, scoops up the body, and carries the dead child clothed in living color off-screen.
In addition to the dead, 487 people, including children, were gravely wounded, 1,275 were taken hostage, and 150 people were missing.
The Azerbaijani community of Los Angeles speaks directly to California’s government regarding statements of the ANCA lobby, addressing the incorrect narratives that have politically surrounded the Karabakh conflict, and that were made common narrative by the Armenian republic. They asked California to be “unbiased and fair” and hold a hearing on the Khojaly massacre as well.
Despite the large number of people impacted per ratio of population and the Armenian government’s own admittance of the crimes, there was no proper punishment for the perpetrators at the time of The Politicon’s clip collection.
In response to those who have politicized and denied the events of the Khojaly massacre, photojournalists have responded by collecting response-testimonials. The Azerbaijani journalist Seyidagha Movsumov joined this list with his work “Genocide: how it happened.” Movsumov recalls how he and now-fallen war hero Allahverdi Baghirov went to Aghdam to collect the refugees who had escaped the massacre. He described them as hiding among the brush, in the bitter cold, and in a bad way as many had fled without proper attire for the bitter mountain winter.
Also in “Genocide: how it happened:” the press photographer Shamil Sabiroghlu filmed a collection he had acquired of ID documents he found scattered over the rocks and valleys during the Khojaly massacre. The documents belonged to “mothers and sisters” who had attempted to escape the enemy by crossing the river Gargar. They moved near the Armenian village of Nakhchivanik, and there they were brutally killed.
Continued politicization of ethnic pogroms continues to rivet the Caucasus region, setting the precedent for perpetuated racially-linked outrage. Despite the politicization of events, it is worthy of note that the First Karabakh conflict was the result of a land expansion agenda by the Armenian republic that spurred from the era of collapse in the Soviet Union, and Azerbaijan’s fragility as an independent state immediately following the fall of the Soviet state.