The Truth of Khojaly Commemorated in Istanbul

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The Turkish branch of The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS), under the auspices of the 'Justice for Khojaly' campaign, organised a memorable evening in Istanbul to commemorate the victims of the Khojaly Massacre. This comprised a musical concert by the Manafov family and a screening of the new documentary 'Khojaly Witnesses: Tears of Truth'.

Stark photoreportage images of the Khojaly Massacre greeted visitors

Injustice is felt when people are not heard, not recognised and simply forgotten

On 25 February, the victims of the Khojaly Massacre – the worst single atrocity of the Armenian–Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, that claimed the lives of 613 civilian victims in 1992 – were commemorated at the multifunctional state-of-the-art exhibition and conference facility The Seed at the Sakip Sabanci Museum in Istanbul, within the international Justice for Khojaly campaign.

The commemoration also included the world premiere of the documentary 'Khojaly Witnesses: Tears of Truth', which contains landmark interviews from eyewitnesses to the tragedy and those who still bear the scars of Armenian aggression. The death toll of the massacre included 106 women, 63 children and 70 elderly people. The film was screened in the presence of Zahid Jabbarov, one of the featured survivors who gave his testimony on camera.

Rena Rzaeva, Director, TEAS Turkey, reflected: “Injustice is felt when people are not heard, not recognised and simply forgotten.
It is an injustice to those that lost their lives in the most brutal way.
It is an injustice to the children left orphaned without a family.
It is an injustice to those expelled from their land and unable to even return to a place they once called home.

“Could you imagine losing your family members, friends, home and everything you knew in one night, knowing that those responsible for this brutality walk away guilt-free, without any responsibility, and without any repercussions. Where is the justice?

“Khojaly was a great injustice of humanity. This is why the Justice for Khojaly campaign was launched in 2008 by Mrs Leyla Aliyeva, Vice-President, Heydar Aliyev Foundation – to raise awareness all around the world for Khojaly.”

She then passed the floor to Kenan Murtazov, who represented the Azerbaijani Consulate in Turkey.

The screening was followed by a concert by the Azerbaijani pianistic maestro Islam Manafov, who has been a resident of Istanbul for 13 years. Manafov has performed in some of the world’s leading concert halls, founded the Yeditepe Chamber Orchestra in Istanbul and is a great educator, being an Associate Professor at Baku Music Academy and at Yeditepe University. His latest album of Chopin’s 'Four Scherzos and Four Ballades' will be released in 2016.

Manafov’s son and daughter share his pianistic ability, and the evening included a classical performance by his son Abuzar. His daughter Turan performed some of her own contemplative compositions, alongside an emotionally-charged interpretation of the folk song 'Lachin' – a district of Azerbaijan that remains under Armenian occupation – that reduced many audience members to tears. The evening concluded with a six-hand performance by all three members of the Manafov family of Azerbaijan, composed by the legendary Muslim Magomayev.

The following day, on 26 February – the 24th anniversary of the massacre – 'Khojaly Witnesses: Tears of Truth' was screened publicly, free-of-charge, alongside the independent US/Lithuanian co-production 'Endless Corridor', at one of the largest Istanbul multiplex cinemas – Cinemaximum (Kanyon).

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 nearly one million refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) remain spread across Azerbaijan. The evening will be dedicated to the memory of the Khojaly victims and those Azerbaijanis who have only one wish – to return home.

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