Editorial Republic Underground
February 8, 2021
Image credit: poster of the event. full poster below.
On Wednesday, February 10, 2021, at 12pm EST New York Time/21:00 Baku Timberwolf-Phoenix Media LLC will join the Caucasus Journalists Network in a commemoration service for the Khojaly Massacre of 1992. The event will be in honor of the memory of those who were victimized in the massacre, as well as in honor of those who survived it. This commemoration service will likewise focus on driving forward-seeking points for the future of the Caucasus and preventing repeats of the Khojaly 1992 events.
The Khojaly Massacre was a surge of mass-murder that occurred during the First Karabakh conflict. It’s survivors remember it as a complete dehumanization of the people of the small township of Khojaly, Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani scholars stated that this was done so that Armenia could achieve its ethnic cleansing policies, as Armenia was occupying vulnerable territories of Azerbaijan post Azerbaijani independence from the U.S.S.R. achieved officially in October 1991.
It has been remembered by the BBC as “the bloodiest episode in modern Azerbaijani history.” The massacre was an episode of the Karabakh secession territorial conflict that emerged out of the failing political control of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. On a snowy night in February 1992, Armenian troops marched into the small township of Khojaly. They went on a killing, torture, and rape spree of hundreds of people. The BBC’s number is placed at 600, which is an update from western narratives that were contemporary at the time of these events. However, the Azerbaijani count of the deaths that occurred is above 1,000. The BBC article shall be held under a strict fact-check scrutiny by the news team of Republic Underground. See below sections for more information.
Guests of the event
The Khojaly commemoration event will be moderated by Timberwolf-Phoenix Media vice president Irina Tsukerman. An introductory video about the Khojaly events will be presented by Thomas Goltz.
The guest list includes the following esteemed people:
Yasemen Hasenova, a survivor of the tragedy in Khojaly 1992
Rino Trombetta, a former political advisor to the European Parliament
Raoul Lowery Contrerars, a political consultant and author
Arzu Jaeed, an Azerbaijani Diaspora Youth member in the USA, independent journalist
Javier Medina Ortiz, a Spanish lawyer and founder of Case de Azerbaijan (Azerbaijan House)
Notice of fact-checking former archives
The events of the independence struggle for the Republic of Azerbaijan, including those of the First Karabakh War, transpired before the full public adaption of the world wide web. For this reason, Republic Underground, a division of Timberwolf-Phoenix Media LLC. will closely fact-check the archives presented about the Khojaly Massacre of February 1992 to be certain that the public archives reflect the testimonies of the private accounts.
An example of the media biases against the Khojaly Massacre
The media biases against Azerbaijan were entrenched in the late 80s and early 90s from the rhetoric of Gorbachev, the leader of the Soviet Union at the time of its downfall. Rhetoric included descriptions of Azerbaijani political protests as Muslim riots. This rhetoric lent its voice to the escalations of Soviet aggression toward Azerbaijan, which led to a climactic event in Baku, Azerbaijan January 1990 now known as the Black January. Republic Underground News has covered the events of Black January as well. See this interview with Mehriban Aliyeva and this four-part interview with Abol Bahadori for more.
The media narrative against Azerbaijan continued, and in March of 1992, only a few weeks after the dust had settled from the initial shock of Khojaly, Time Magazine printed an article that through one side of its mouth condemns the attack, and from the other side shows a bias toward the Azerbaijani people of the day.
“Now perceptions are shifting as Azerbaijanis assume the role of underdog and Armenians appear to be the predatory wolves. Videotapes circulated by the Azerbaijanis include images of disfigured civilians, some of them scalped, others shot through the head. Armenians claim the footage is fake. They insist that they left a corridor open for civilians to flee Khojaly but that Azerbaijani soldiers led a group of 200 civilians into harm’s way. The use of surface-to-air missiles, sophisticated Grad rocket batteries, and armor proves that both sides are now armed with state-of-the-art weapons that were bequeathed by, sold by, or stolen from Soviet units,” wrote Jim Smolowe.
The author of this article, Jim Smolowe, stated that the number of the dead was 200 souls because these were those that had been transported away from the scene. He wrote that the Azerbaijanis claimed the death toll came to 1,324 civilians, most of whom were women and children, and that the total number of the dead was “unknown.”
These statements, along with the use of words such as “Christian Armenians” and “Muslims Azerbaijanis” suggest that, even when attempting to appear objective, the press rhetoric toward Azerbaijan in those days was biased, in favor of Armenia. The Armenian aggression against the citizens of Karabakh was not founded in religion, but rather an attempt at increasing expansion. Eyewitness accounts highlight how Armenia has demanded Karabakh as well as Eastern Turkey as part of its sovereign borders, claiming ethnic heritage in both locations, as well as a few other scattered provinces of Azerbaijan.
The article by Time Magazine is but one example of rhetoric that the editorial of Republic Underground will hold under the light of fact-checking scrutiny. We seek to unravel biases against the events that Azerbaijan describes as “a genocide” and we search for the truth that is buried in nearly 30 years of unclear narrative.