A Muslim youth group stands at Azerbaijan’s side in “all its international efforts and campaigns” for greater recognition of the 1992 Khojaly massacre, said the forum’s head on Wednesday.
Taha Ayhan, head of the Islamic Conference Youth Forum (ICYF), commemorated the victims of the massacre, which led to over 1,000 casualties, including many women and children, on its 27th anniversary in a program co-organized by the forum and Azerbaijan’s embassy to Turkey.
“I would like to express my wish that the Muslim world never again witnesses such horrendous massacres against its citizens, most of whio are young people,” Ayhan said.
He also voiced his support to the “Justice for Khojaly” campaign since its launch in 2008, spearheaded by Leyla Aliyeva, daughter of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, to raise awareness worldwide of what happened in the country some three decades ago.
“We are happy to note that to date, more that 12,000 people and 115 organizations have joined this campaign, which functions successfully in dozens of countries,” he added.
Ayhan also said: “Those who respect and support the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and future prosperity of their own countries, as well as the supremacy of international law, will also support the just stance of Azerbaijan.”
Yonet Can Tezel, a top official at Turkey’s Foreign Ministry, said that Turkey stands in solidarity with its “Azerbaijani friends,” adding that the Khojaly massacre is “one of the cruelest crimes in political history”.
“We stand with our Azerbaijani brothers and sisters, we share their pain,” he said.
Tezel stressed that Turkey will continue to demand justice for Khojaly “from the right side of the history.”
Necdet Unuvar, former chair of the Turkey-Azerbaijan Parliamentary Friendship Group, said of the massacre: “We should not forget Khojaly and should not let it ” be forgotten.”
Unuvar also stressed the related Upper Krabakh issue, adding that 20 percent of Azerbaijani land remains under Armenian occupation.
He said that the commemoration of the massacre is important for humanity to never again allow such tragedies.
Khazar Ibrahim, Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Turkey, said that people in Ankara, as well as all around the world, commemorated all “who perished” in the massacre.
“For all Azerbaijanis, we always live this pain in our hearts,” he added.
Ibrahim said that it is important for people to raise their voices and tell the international community what happened 27 years ago in the town of Khojaly in Azerbaijan’s Upper Karabakh region.
“The international community should take a moral stand on issues where human lives are concerned,” he said.
Saying that Azerbaijan seeks justice and peace, Ibrahim added that he believes that if massacres like Khojaly continue, the current international system can no longer stand.
“I believe nobody will be safe unless there is justice,” he added.
The commemoration program started with the recitation of verses from the Quran, followed with a video presentation about the Khojaly massacre.
Ambassadors and representatives from a number of embassies, ministries, and government offices also attended the event.
– Khojaly massacre
The massacre of Feb. 26, 1992 is seen as one of the bloodiest incidents of the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan for control of the now-occupied Upper Karabakh region.
On the heels of the Soviet Union’s dissolution, Armenian forces took over the town of Khojaly in Karabakh on Feb. 26, 1992, after battering it with heavy artillery and tanks, assisted by an infantry regiment.
When the massacre happened, the population of the town was more than 11,000.
The two-hour offensive killed 613 Azeris, including 116 women and 63 children, and also critically injured 487 others, according to Azerbaijani figures.
Some 150 of the 1,275 Azerbaijanis that the Armenians captured during the massacre remain missing to this day.
Karabakh — a disputed territory between Azerbaijan and Armenia — broke away from Azerbaijan in 1991 with military support from neighboring Armenia, and a peace process has yet to be implemented.
Three UN Security Council resolutions and two UN General Assembly resolutions refer to Karabakh as being part of Azerbaijan, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe refers to the region as being occupied by Armenian forces.
The Armenian occupation of Karabakh led to the closing of the frontier with Turkey, which sides with Baku in the dispute.