Azerbaijan Human rights/war crimes Voice from Around the World Voices from Conflict Zones

Shamil Alabarkli: Voices from Around the World

Shamil Sabir oglu Alakbarli, chairman of the public association ” Promoting of recognition of the Khojaly genocide”, editor-in-chief of the”Medonline.az” website, and a war veteran. I live in Baku, I am 55 years old. I have been working as a journalist for more than 30 years.

 

How old were you at the time of events?

 I was 23 years old when the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh began. I lived in Baku.

In 1989, I heard that the Armenian side was preparing to build a tunnel from the territory of the Gorus region of Armenia to the territory of the Lachin region of Azerbaijan to the city of Khankendi, the capital of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. In 1989, the Council of Ministers of Azerbaijan (now the Cabinet of Ministers) decided to build a settlement in the direction of the village. Volunteers were needed to work here.

I went to Lachin as a member of a group of volunteers. We did wonderful work in Lachin for 4 months. During the construction work, the construction site was repeatedly fired upon in the villages of Kornidzor and Dig in the Gorus region of Armenia. The injured were taken to the Lachin district hospital. I remember that in the autumn of 1989, Armenians brutally killed an innocent resident of the Lachin region, Rza Sadigov.

Please tell us about the memory of those days…

Europeans do not know what kind of human qualities Armenians have. They are even crueler than the German Nazis.

I am a living witness of the Khojaly genocide on February 26, 1992, Shusha on May 8, and Lachin on May 18 of that year. During the Khojaly genocide, at least 613 civilians were brutally killed overnight, and 1,275 people were taken prisoner and taken hostage. The fate of 155 hostages is still unknown. I am originally from the Yenikend village of the Salyan region.

In 1989, I went to the Lachin region, which borders Armenia, and in the spring of 1990 to Karabakh, not to fight, but to support the peaceful construction work. Imagine that the Dashnak riots did not allow us to work. As an example, I can mention the shells rained on Khojaly from the direction of Noraguh village of Askeran region and other directions.

During the Khojaly genocide, Armenians were even more ruthless: they did not show mercy for elderly men and women, as well as infants, who asked for help. At that time, I was working as a correspondent for the Sahar daily news newspaper in the Karabakh region. I must admit that as a citizen of the country, it was very difficult to see our compatriots in that situation. They pulled earrings out from the ears of brides and brutally raped them.

Armenian terrorists took hostage Sattar Agayev, who died shortly after the genocide. As Sattar did not provide the necessary information to the terrorists, they pulled out 5 teeth without pinching. Savalan Allahverdiyev, an 80-year-old resident of Khojaly, was a participant in World War II in 1941-1945.

Mr. Allahverdiyev, who was captured by the German Nazis in that war, was tortured but not killed. Although he returned safely from the war between the USSR and Germany, he was killed in Azerbaijan, in his native Khojaly, along with his sister and nephew. Or 83-year-old Allahverdi Guliyev, 70-year-old Zakara … They were also civilians without weapons and living a quiet life. Both were tortured to death. After the Khojaly genocide, I thought a lot: why did the Armenians treat the civilian population cruelly? I still can’t find an answer to this question.

How were you and your family affected?  

In the 20th century, Khojaly was destroyed three times by Armenian terrorists: 1905-1907, 1918, and 1992. What would Europeans do if such a tragedy befell them? Armenians destroyed the Khojaly village cemetery and built a settlement on the place. The name is Noragug (New village). It was from that area that the population of Khojaly came under fire. What happened, of course, affected us very badly. We witnessed the death of humanity on February 26, 1992. Because, a writer named Zori Balayan, who is Armenian by nationality, shamelessly sent to the media the murder of Khojaly’s young son with his direct participation and suffering. 

Where did you go afterward?

The editorial office where I was working expected information from me, and I was involved in the transportation of the wounded and corpses. When the bodies were removed after February 27-28, I witnessed that many of them showed signs of torture.

I contacted the editorial office on the evening of February 26. I sent some of the photos I took. I spent about 10 days collecting the wounded and corpses from the forests. The photos taken by French journalist and photographer Frederic Frederigue are published on websites and newspapers in many countries around the world. I was depicted there in a military uniform as a bearded man. In addition, if I’m not mistaken, I remember the French journalist Stephane Bentura and the American journalist Thomas Goltz. I was very shaken after this genocide, but I took a stand on my own and continued my activities in Shusha and Lachin regions.

Have you tried sharing your story with the wider public and what was the response?

Azerbaijan is a tolerant country. We are proud of it. But there is a different situation in Armenia- this country acts as a mono-ethnic republic. Of course, we try to explain at least a small part of the atrocities committed by Armenia against Azerbaijan, as well as the Turkic world, in the events held in secondary schools and universities. I support the anti-terrorist operations conducted by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces since September 27, 2020.