Response to Greek City Times’ Khojaly massacre politicization, Op-Ed

By | Rachel Brooks
March 13, 2021

Response commentary, Opinion 

The views in this article are a response to an article posted in the Greek City Times under World News without a clearly visible op-ed labeling on March 13, 2021. The views expressed in response are attributed solely to the author. 

Above image: Child fatalities are laid out for funeral directly following the events of Khojaly. “File:06 xojali ilgar.jpg” by Ilgar Jafarov is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

The events of the Khojaly massacre on the night and early morning of February 25-February 26, 1992 are undeniable. The Armenian government has, since these events, admitted that they did occur and that Armenia used the massacre as a war tactic to change perceptions of the Azerbaijani society that Armenia would not target civilians if it found it tactically advantageous. Even though both sides of the conflict and the international community, have reached a consensus on Khojaly, the events continued to be politicized frequently in post-war rhetoric.

On March 13, the Greek City Times posted an op-ed by a guest contributor, Arthur Petrosyan, who is the editor of INFOTEKA24 and a “political expert.” The article calls the Khojaly “speculation.” This press regarding Khojaly “speculation” continues to circle Armenian diaspora political commentary editorials over two weeks after the 29th anniversary of the brutal events. Greek City Times ran the article with a graphic of #FakeKhojaly with the Azerbaijani flag behind it.

Adult victims of the Khojaly events laid out, “File:03 xojali ilgar.jpg” by Ilgar Jafarov is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

The article jumps into a discussion of the regional proximity of Khojaly to Khankendi, which is also known to Armenians as Stepanakert.

The author, who is not named in the article, then continues to discuss how the corpses were found “several found several hundred meters away from Azerbaijani positions in Aghdam” and argued the existence of a humanitarian corridor between Khojaly and Agdam published in Russian Thought on March 4, 1992, roughly a week after the massacre occurred.

See this account from survivors of the Khojaly massacre in the documentary film Running from the Darkness. 

Survivors recall that bodies were scattered between Khojaly and Agdam because the displaced fled the scene of the occupation of the city of Khojaly and froze to death en route. Others describe being captured and imprisoned mid-flight. Khojaly survivor Durdane Agayeva recalls having been captured, imprisoned, beaten, tortured, and violated after having fled the scene of Khojaly on foot. She was later released in a trade for gasoline. Agayeva has shared her story in her guest contributions to the Jewish Journal. 

Despite the account of survivors, and existing research into the Khojaly massacre and the deaths of displaced persons as a direct result of the Khojaly event, the Greek City Times article continued to accuse Azerbaijan of forging the number of deaths.

“The Azerbaijani side does not explain where the number 613 came from.

According to “Human Right Watch”, the number of victims of the event is estimated at 200-300 people.”

 

This is a non-factual statement. The official death count came to 613 people. Including 106 women and 63 children. It is important to note that no direct citation to the Human Rights Watch was given in this article, the author’s name is not attributed to the piece, and the name of the organization is misspelled. All of these things strongly suggest a lack of investigative research adds credibility to the article, making it a rhetoric piece by necessity.

The article also uses comment such as “obviously” and makes continued claims such as this sentence:
“In April 1992, the First President of Azerbaijan, Ayaz Mutalibov, gave an interview to “Nezavisimaya Gazeta,” and said that all these events had been organized to force him to resign, which he did shortly after.”

Because there are no citations to these comments, this article is by necessity op-ed. It, however, was published under “World News” as if it were vetted fact. Also, the article makes indirectly associated comments regarding the Armenian casualties of the overall First Karabakh conflict. It likewise makes statements that are generalizations of the entire conflict.

While Mr. Petrosyan is entitled to his opinion, regardless of its factual validity, it goes against journalistic integrity to publish this article without labeling it as an opinion of the author. Such rhetoric distributed as fact regarding the Khojaly conflict, as was seen in this piece, is both harmful to the process of piece, and harmful to the profession of journalism.

The continued politicization of the Khojaly massacre is harmful to the post-conflict process and any future committment to the region’s peace.