Academic debate in Berlin highlights the Khojaly victims and the ongoing plight of the Azerbaijani people

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A debate to commemorate the 24th anniversary of the Khojaly Massacre, organised by the Justice for Khojaly campaign under the auspices of the German office of The European Azerbaijan Society, has taken place at Humboldt University. The headline speaker was Professor Johannes Rau.

Professor Johannes Rau imparted some invaluable perspectives on the Khojaly Massacre

He stressed that responsibility for the crimes must be taken, thereby enabling the victims’ relatives to finally mourn.

On 26 February, a fascinating academic debate took place at Humboldt University in Berlin, focusing on the expertise of renowned Professor Johannes Rau. The event commemorated 24th anniversary of the Khojaly Massacre in 1992 – the worst single atrocity of the Armenian–Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, which claimed the lives of 613 civilian victims. The death toll included 106 women, 63 children and 70 elderly people.

Speaking before the audience of 200 attendees, including politicians, VIPs and press representatives, Shahin Namati-Nasab, Director, The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) Germany, explained: “TEAS is proud to organise this debate within the framework of the Justice for Khojaly campaign, which is an international awareness campaign initiated by Mrs Leyla Aliyeva, Vice-President, Heydar Aliyev Foundation. The Justice for Khojaly international awareness campaign was launched on 8 May 2008. The campaign’s rapid development is a measure of international support for the restoration of justice in the region. This support has been expressed at events in over 100 countries in Europe, America, Asia and Africa, and has come from individuals and international organisations, as well as states. This year, TEAS is organising events within the Justice for Khojaly campaign in Strasbourg, Stockholm, Vilnius, Athens, London, Brussels, Paris, Istanbul and Florence.

Mr Namati-Nasab continued: “It is an immense pleasure to welcome the audience, including H.E. Parviz Shahbazov, Azerbaijani Ambassador to Germany; Bundestag members, especially Florian Hahn MP and, of course, the main speaker tonight – Professor Johannes Rau – who is an expert on the complex situation in the post-Soviet Caucasus region, and particularly Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region and the seven surrounding districts, which remain under Armenian occupation. Having held important research and teaching posts in Moscow, he will enlighten us today with his profound insights.

“Today, we commemorate the 24th anniversary of the Khojaly Massacre and, though many actions have been taken, the international community continues to ignore the ongoing Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territories and the plight of the nearly one million Azerbaijani refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).”

Afterwards, Ambassador Shahbazov explained the significance of the massacre and the ongoing occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts. The situation is almost unbearable yet, despite this, Azerbaijan has still been transformed into a stable and economically successful partner for Germany and elsewhere in Europe. He explained that Azerbaijan aims to play a peaceful role in resolution of this conflict, although Armenia must take responsibility for its actions and withdraw from Azerbaijani territory.

Mr Hahn MP highlighted the relevance of Azerbaijan to Germany in his greeting and stated that Germany must play a constructive part in the settlement – especially within the scope of its OSCE Presidency.

Finally, Professor Rau hauntingly described the horror of the massacre and highlighted that not only human lives were erased, but unimaginable cruelties were also committed. He pointed out that, in addition to the high number of deaths, many human rights violations had been committed. At this point, he described the perspectives of both the Armenian offenders and foreign eyewitnesses. Professor Rau emphasised the need for swift conflict resolution. He stressed that responsibility for the crimes must be taken, thereby enabling the victims’ relatives to finally mourn.

Despite the passing of four UN Security Council resolutions against the invasion, Armenia continues to occupy Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts to this day. Currently nearly 20 per cent of Azerbaijani territory remains occupied. The event was dedicated to the memory of the Khojaly victims and those Azerbaijanis who have one wish – to return home.

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