Landmark book on Khojaly Massacre launched in the UK Parliament

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The landmark book 'Khojaly Witness of a War Crime: Armenia in the Dock' – containing first-hand testimonies by those who experienced and witnessed the Khojaly Massacre – has received its UK launch in the House of Lords. The event was hosted by Lord Kilclooney and organised by The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS).

Ian Peart

Ian Peart – co-author of the book – recalled the moving accounts he had heard

I agree that the people who committed crimes like Khojaly should face justice, and welcome the publication of this book.

On 1 July, the book 'Khojaly Witness of a War Crime: Armenia in the Dock' was launched in the House of Lords. The event was hosted by Lord Kilclooney and organised by The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS). Those attending included Lord Foulkes, Lord Addington and Bob Blackman MP.

The book launch commemorated the victims of the Khojaly Massacre in 1992, the worst single atrocity of the Armenian–Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. On the night of 25–26 February 1992, 613 civilians were brutally murdered. The death toll included 106 women, 63 children and 70 elderly people.

Ian Peart, Project Co-ordinator, TEAS, who co-edited the book, stated: “The book, Khojaly Witness of a War Crime: Armenia in the Dock, is the first independent publication about the Khojaly Massacre to be published in the West in English.”

He went on to say that: “Armenia has refused to accept responsibility for what happened, going as far as to say that Azerbaijanis killed their own people in order to make Armenians look bad. This is why it was so important for us to produce as much evidence as we could. The book includes interviews with witnesses of the events in Khojaly, materials published in the international press, the views of foreign researchers, reports from international organisations and rare pictures taken by international photographers. Please read the book and think about what you can do to help these people.”

Bob Blackman MP, Chairman, Azerbaijan All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), said: “It is a scandal that there are four UN Security Council Resolutions on Nagorno-Karabakh which have not been acted upon in over 20 years, whilst for others, such as the one on Libya, immediate action was taken. It is unacceptable that Armenia continues to occupy Azerbaijani territory over which it has no right, and that so many Azerbaijanis were displaced in what amounted to a process of ethnic cleansing. The UN should hang its head in shame at the lack of action to resolve this and to bring those responsible for Khojaly to justice.”

H.E. Tahir Taghizade, Azerbaijani Ambassador to the UK, said: “There are people who share military, moral and legal responsibility for what occurred in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Until they are brought to justice, we will have no guarantee that something like this will not happen again in the future. What happened in Khojaly was just the most recent in a long line of tragic events to which Azerbaijanis have been subjected in recent years. There are people in Armenia who are considered as intellectuals, and yet participated in this, the reasoning being that Azerbaijanis had to know that they meant ‘business’. This is the most tragic aspect, as for them this was nothing more than ‘business’.”

Fiona Maclachlan, joint editor of the book, sadly passed away last year. Alastair Maclachlan, her husband, spoke on her behalf. He said: “Fiona loved Azerbaijan and its people. When Fiona came back from having interviewed the survivors of Khojaly, she said she was honoured and very moved. Fiona was moved by the generosity and warmth of people who had been through so much, yet wanted to give so much, despite having so little. She also shared their desire to see justice, and the belief that, at some point, they would return home. Fiona genuinely hoped that this book would make a difference to the people who had suffered and that it would do the same for those who read it.”

Dennis Sammut, Director, LINKS think-tank, also spoke. He has focused on the Armenian–Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh for many years, and has sought to increase understanding between the sides, saying: “Preventing another Khojaly from ever happening again in the Caucasus region should be our primary responsibility. I agree that the people who committed crimes like Khojaly should face justice, and welcome the publication of this book. We need to remember those who died at Khojaly and in other tragedies in the Caucasus region. This book is certainly an important contribution to this endeavour.”

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.

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