On Feb. 26, Azerbaijani-Americans will commemorate the 22nd anniversary of the first largest mass killing of civilians in Europe since World War II. On that night in 1992, during the Nagorno-Karabakh War, Armenian forces supported by Russia’s 366th infantry regiment attacked the Azerbaijani town of Khojaly and massacred its fleeing residents. According to Newsweek, “many were killed at close range while trying to flee; some had their faces mutilated, others were scalped.” 613 civilians, including 106 women and 63 children, were tortured to death, hundreds more went missing. More than 1,000 people received permanent health damage, and 1,275 people were taken hostage. More than 150 children lost one or both of their parents.
Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Associated Press and many other sources attested the fact that the Armenian forces carried out the massacre. Armenian field commander, Monte Melkonyan, gave a shocking witness account of the Khojaly “killing fields” in his diary, reproving fellow Armenian fighters for the war crime. Finally, Armenia’s incumbent president, Serzh Sargsyan, admitted in an interview that his forces acted in revenge to “break the stereotype” of Azerbaijanis. Yet, the official Armenia and the Armenian-American lobby deny these facts; instead they push a myth that Azerbaijanis massacred their own citizens.
As the United States mediates a peaceful settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, our recognition of its largest atrocity is important for healing and reconciliation. In the recent years, the legislatures in Massachusetts, Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, West Virginia, Florida and Connecticut recognized the Khojaly Massacre. I join members of the Pax Turcica Institute in requesting a resolution to commemorate the victims of this horrific act of ethnic cleansing. Sample text of recognition is available at http://khojaly.azeris.org.