Souls of the Khojaly victims remembered in Paris

Share Article

A moving musical remembrance has taken place in the heart of Paris to recall the sacrifice of 613 civilian lives during the Khojaly Massacre in 1992. The event was organised by The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS), under the auspices of the Justice for Khojaly campaign.

Classical music performance

Arslan Novrasli – a leading exponent of the Azerbaijani tar – took centre-stage

Azerbaijan remains the victim of illegal territorial occupation, which re-echoes recent events in Ukraine.

On 23 February, a moving classical concert took place amidst the stunning surroundings of the historic Théâtre Adyar in the heart of Paris to commemorate the victims of the Khojaly Massacre in 1992 – the worst single atrocity of the Armenian–Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. This claimed the lives of 613 civilian victims in 1992, including 106 women, 63 children and 70 elderly people. Over 250 diplomats, business leaders, music aficionados living in Paris and members of the Azerbaijani diaspora attended the concert. Dignitaries present included Mrs Nigar Huseynova, First Secretary, Azerbaijani Embassy to France and Pierre Thilloy, whose work 'Lamento – In Memoriam' was premiered that evening, having been written in memory of the victims.

In June 1944, towards the end of World War II, the occupying Nazi forces destroyed the French town of Oradour-sur-Glane and 642 innocent townspeople were brutally executed. The devastated town has been left in its current state for over 70 years so the world does not forget the brutality of war on ordinary lives. Making a direct parallel with Khojaly – whose death toll was similar – Philippe Lacroix, Mayor of Oradour and Benoit Sadry, Secretary, National Association for the Families of Martyrs, also attended the concert as a mark of solidarity. The ongoing volatility of the conflict was emphasised by vandalism of the walls and pavements around the theatre by an isolated group of Armenian extremists who daubed insulting comments concerning Azerbaijan.

Marie-Laetitia Gourdin, Director, The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) explained: “TEAS is organising a series of events within the framework of the Justice for Khojaly campaign, initiated in 2008 by Mrs Leyla Aliyeva, and now active in more than 100 countries. This calls for the restoration of justice and peace in the region. This year, TEAS is presenting Khojaly commemorations in London, Strasbourg, Brussels, Bern, Dublin, Istanbul, Ankara, Rome, Vilnius and Luxembourg – in addition to tonight’s event in Paris. Usually, when Azerbaijan is discussed in France, this focuses on its geographic situation and history. Often there is a lack of information, and that which is available is biased and misleading.

“The organisation of a concert of this kind is most appropriate, as it pays an homage to the cultural legacy of the Azerbaijani occupied regions. The town of Shusha, for example, was the birthplace of many great Azerbaijani musicians, including Uzeyir Hajibeyli, father of Azerbaijani classical music.

“Azerbaijan remains the victim of illegal territorial occupation, which re-echoes recent events in Ukraine. This evening is also dedicated to two Azerbaijani citizens – Dilham Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev – who were recently imprisoned in Nagorno-Karabakh by the occupying forces for visiting the graves of their relatives, having been sentenced to life and 22 years, respectively. The so-called ‘court’ had absolutely no authority to try the men, and this constitutes a complete contradiction of the equitable trial process, which is enshrined in Article 6 of the European Convention of the Rights of Man. It is imperative that the French authorities are alerted to the plight of these men so they are not forgotten and are immediately freed by the Armenian authorities as a humanitarian gesture. During the past few days, Victoria Nuland, Assistant US Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, has requested that these men should be immediately set free.

“We are here to commemorate the memory of the civilian victims from a conflict that began with the fall of the Soviet Union and continues to impact the citizens of both Azerbaijani and Armenia. You are all here to discuss the solution and to consider justice and forgiveness. Such a move would create the ideal conditions for the prosperous development of both countries and enable the populations of both nations to live together harmoniously.”

The evening featured three outstanding Azerbaijani musicians – Arslan Novrasli, player of the tar, an Azerbaijani national instrument, developed in Nagorno-Karabakh; Sabina Rakcheyeva (violin); and Nazrin Rashidova (violin), who led her all-female FeMusa Orchestra. In addition to the new work 'Lamento – In memoriam', performed by Sabina and Nazrin and incorporating the plaintive sound of the mugham singer, the programme comprised a mixture of Azerbaijani and European music. The selection was drawn from some of the most renowned Azerbaijani composers, including Gara Garayev’s 'Funeral Ode' and two works featuring the evocative tar of Arslan Novrasli – Vasif Adigezalov’s 'Carnation' and Azer Rzayev’s 'Meditation'. These were performed alongside uplifting and reflective works by Antonio Vivaldi, Paul Lewis, Karl Jenkins and Gabriel Fauré.

Despite the passing of four UN Security Council resolutions against the invasion, Armenia continues to occupy Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts to this day. Currently nearly 20 per cent of Azerbaijani territory remains occupied, and approximately 875,000 refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) remain spread across Azerbaijan. The evening was dedicated to the memory of the Khojaly victims and those Azerbaijanis who have one wish – to return home.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Visit website