Khojaly victims remembered in Brussels

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A moving concert of classical music has taken place at Bozar in Brussels to remember the victims of the Khojaly Massacre in Azerbaijan in 1992. The event was organised by The European Azerbaijan Society under the auspices of the international Justice for Khojaly campaign.

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Tonight we remember the lives of 613 civilians who lost their lives at the hands of the Armenian and Soviet armed forces. We can and must not forget this atrocity.

Over 400 diplomats, Ambassadors, European, Belgian and foreign representatives and other participants attended an outstanding concert in the heart of Europe – Brussels – to commemorate the victims of the Khojaly Massacre. This was the worst single atrocity of the Armenian–Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, and claimed the lives of 613 civilians on 26 February 1992.

This unique event was organised by the Brussels office of The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS), within the framework of the Justice for Khojaly campaign. This is an international awareness campaign initiated by Mrs Leyla Aliyeva, Vice-President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. This Belgian concert was one of many events taking place across Europe as part of the international Justice for Khojaly campaign.

Marc Verwilghen, Director, TEAS Brussels, said: “I am very proud to welcome all participants to the long-established and renowned arts centre of Bozar in Brussels, in the heart of the European Union. Across Europe, TEAS highlights the plight of 875,000 Azerbaijani refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). These people – with no voice – are unable to return to their homes and lands because of the illegal occupation of the Azerbaijani territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions by Armenia’s armed forces. Despite four UN Security Council Resolutions and 21 years of OSCE Minsk Group negotiations, there is still no progress.

“One of the saddest occurrences during the conflict was the Khojaly Massacre on 26 February 1992. Tonight we remember the lives of 613 civilians who lost their lives at the hands of the Armenian and Soviet armed forces. We can and must not forget this atrocity. TEAS dedicates this concert to the IDPs and refugees, to the Azerbaijani people, and even to the two Azerbaijani hostages named Dilham Ahmadov and Shahbaz Quilyev who were recently condemned to prison terms respectively of life and 22 years by an illegal court because they visited the graves of their families in Nagorno-Karabakh.”

In his opening speech, Sven Gatz, Flemish Minister of Culture underlined: “On nights like these, I would like to learn more about Azerbaijani culture and hear about the dramatic events of Khojaly. I remain confident that TEAS, which is organising this event, is open to constructive co-operation within countries. The Justice for Khojaly commemoration concert at Bozar helps us to remember the terrible events in Khojaly in Nagorno-Karabakh.”

H.E. Fuad Isgandarov, Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the European Union recalled: “The Khojaly Massacre was a terrible atrocity that occurred in February 1992. The same happened later in the Balkans and in Srebrenica. Azerbaijan is a unique, modern, secular, and developed country. Despite the ongoing Armenian–Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan has managed to retain its stability, develop, and become an important regional leader. Unfortunately, nearly 20 per cent of our territory remains occupied by Armenian armed forces, and numerous violations and actions are undertaken against our country on a regular basis. Even in this extremely difficult context, we believe in a peaceful resolution of this conflict, and hope that the European and international community will help resolve this. Tonight, we remember Nagorno-Karabakh in the hearts and minds of the Azerbaijani people, and particularly remember the souls of those who died in Khojaly.”

The programme of the concert also included the Belgian premiere of the 'Khojaly 613' tone poem, by French composer Pierre Thilloy. The musicians Sabina Rakcheyeva (violin), Annelise Clément (clarinet) and the Magma String Quartet performed during this exceptional and emotionally-charged evening.

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