13 Years After Khojalu Tragedy

AZG Armenian Daily #034, 25/02/2005

Nagorno Karabakh
Heydar Aliyev: “We’ll Benefit from Bloodshed. We Should Not Intervene With
the Events”
On Feb. 25 of 1992 Nagorno Karabakh forces took their stand in the west of
Khojalu and demanded the enemy to leave the village and to guide the
civilians out via the humanitarian corridor they provided. The Azerbaijani
president of the time, Ayaz Mutalibov, confessed to Nezavisimoya Gazeta on
April 2 that “the Armenians provided a corridor for the people to draw
An American senator said during the World War I that the truth is the first
victim of war. These words may well be applied to Khojalu. No one was able
to answer why the Azeri armed forces reckoning on Shushi and Ghojalu as
bridgeheads didn’t lead civilians out of Khojalu while the Karabakh side
gave them a chance.
Regardless the reasons, what happened in Khojalu was a tragedy that claimed
lives of 613 civilians. 34 Armenians were killed in the battles of February
The February of 1992 was the toughest period in Karabakh war for the
Armenians. The Azeri armed groups occupied more than 40 percent of Nagorno
Karabakh’s territory and kept rocketing capital city of Stepanakert from
Ghojalu, Aghdam and Shushi day and night. Hundreds died under ruins as
result of bombardments.
The only airport of Nagorno Karabakh was in Khojalu. In 1992 the Karabakh
forces had not yet opened the Lachin humanitarian corridor and had not yet
liberated Shushi. In fact, air communication between Armenia and Nagorno
Karabakh at that time was the only one. Karabakh was squeezed in grip.
Heydar Aliyev, chairman of Nakhijevan parliament of the time, placed all
blame for the tragedy on former Azeri authorities, precisely Ayaz Mutalibov.
“We’ll Benefit from Bloodshed. We should not intervene with the events”,
Azeri Biliq Dunyas agency quoted Aliyev as saying right after the tragedy.
Allegedly, first publications on Khojalu events in the international press
were on February 27 in The Washington Post and The Sunday Times. American
journalist Thomas Goltz, who had an Azeri wife by the way, was the author of
both articles. Goltz wrote about Khojalu while in Baku and visited the
village only few days later as his articles were published.
There were other journalists as well who wrote about Khojalu after the
tragedy but, contrary to Goltz, after having visited the spot. So, The Times
correspondents, Anatol Lieven and Rory Peck, were the first journalists who
visited Khojalu and took pictures. One and half a year ago Peck was killed
in Moscow during the Ostankino events.
French journalist, Florance David, from French TV broadcasted on March 2
that Armenians and Azeris agreed on exchanging bodies of the killed.
Florance saw 100 corpses on the ground while they were being exchanged. In a
short while he noticed an Azeri helicopter with foreign journalists shooting
pictured of the dead from aboard. Florance reported that the Turkish press
and TV represented the scene as “massacre of hundreds of Azeris by
Czech journalist, Jana Mazalova, interviewed already the former president
Ayaz Mutalibov several weeks later. The latter said: “The scene of massacres
was staged”. In November 13 issue of 1992 Izvastia wrote: “It was possible
to avert Khojalu tragedy”.
Azeri cameraman, Chingiz Mustafayev, who worked in Aghdam from February 28
to March 2, was suspicious over Azerbaijan’s official view that Armenians
carried out massacre of civilians in Khojalu. The journalist had a high
price to pay for honestly accusing the Azeri forces of Khojalu tragedy. Soon
after his publication he was killed in Aghdam which was under Azeris control
at the time.
The former chairman of Azeri parliament, Tamerlan Garayev, said: “The
Khojalu tragedy was perpetrated by Azeri authorities, by someone from
high-ranking officials”. Recently, vice-chairman of the Azeri parliament,
Ziafed Askerov, told Zerkalo that Ayaz Mutalibov and his entourage and the
Peoples’ Front are the ones to blame for Khojalu.
Stepanakert considers that Baku is trying to “veil” the massacres of
Armenian population in Sumgait on February 25-28 of 1988.
By Tatoul Hakobian