The city that makes me cry and scream...
08 May 2021
n April 2021, my friend – journalist "Israel HaYom" Shmuel Dean Elmas and I visited the liberated Nagorno-Karabakh region and witnessed the destruction that was implemented over the past three decades in cities such as Agdam, Fizuli, Jabrail, and Zangelan.
We drove 1,350 km of this territory. This is practically the territory of Israel from the border of Lebanon to Eilat. The scale of destruction is terrifying.
I visited these territories for the first time in my life, noting the fact that Azerbaijanis were barred from visiting the Nagorno-Karabakh region, even though the international community recognized that these lands are internatioanally recognized part of Azerbaijan. During 1992-1993 years, Armenia occupied these territories with Yeltzin Russia's military assistance in violation of four UN Security Council Resolutions, yet Azerbaijan recently regained and freed these lands last year during the Second Karabakh War.
I have been shocked by the moral and human damage caused as a citizen of Israel and as a native of Azerbaijan: I felt as if a terrible and brutal plague had come to these lands. Not a single house, kindergarten, school, library, or museum remained. Cemeteries, mosques and churches lay in ruins. Armenian looting and vandalism wiped Agdam, Fizuli, Jabrail and Zangelan off the map. What used to be streets and houses were now only doorways, columns, and scattered window frames. All of the ruins were overgrown with trees. The ruins looked ancient, like the remains of some long-gone empire. Agdam in particular was living evidence of how a population with almost 140,000 people was transformed into a heap of unnecessary stones.
I visited what was once the Bread Museum, which was built on the old premises of what used to be an old mill dating back to the XIX century. In the past, this mill was a protected historic landmark of Azerbaijan. Agdam, like Karabakh in general, has always been an agrarian land due to its unique soils and climate. Therefore, it is no coincidence and no wonder that the first Bread Museum in the Soviet Union was created in Azerbaijan. However, after three decades of Armenian occupation, it lay in ruins.
During the trip, I often asked myself this question how this Armenian occupational army do not really love life, how they deliberately destroyed and desecrated everything sacred and human - museums, libraries, mosques and churches, Azerbaijani cemeteries.
I saw the mausoleum of Panah Ali Khan, the founder and first ruler of the Karabakh Khanate. It was turned into a barn, where they kept cows and pigs in it, and after abundant libations, they fired from it with all kinds of weapons. Armenian vandals destroyed, dug and stole the grave of the famous Azerbaijani poet Khurshudbanu Natavan. What remained looked very scary. Moreover, such a sight was everywhere. They callously destroyed everything sacred and human. It is clear that the Armenians wanted to strike and humiliate the national dignity of Azerbaijanis
Important items related to the history and culture of the Azerbaijani people were systematically plundered and destroyed, including works of art, cultural works, world-famous carpets, memorials honoring prominent figures in Azerbaijan and other items that were on display in museums. These vandals with particular cruelty destroyed the cultural objects in the liberated territories that make up the cultural heritage of Azerbaijan.
Moreover, such a sight and situation is everywhere - for 27 years the Armenians purposefully destroyed the traces of the Azerbaijani cultural heritage in Agdam and other occupied regions.
In these territories, they looted and burned 12 museums and 6 art galleries, as well as 9 palaces of historical significance. 40,000 exhibits of rare historical significance were plundered. 44 temples and 18 mosques were desecrated. 927 libraries have been destroyed. 4,600,000 (four million six hundred thousand) copies of books and rare handwritten manuscripts were eradicated.
I often heard about the destroyed Aghdam as a ghost town. My journalist friend Shmuel Din Elmas and I have traveled vast territories, but I would say Aghdam, Fizuli, Jabrail, and Zangelan are all ghost towns destroyed and insulted because of the Armenian occupation. The scale of the destruction is terrifying and striking in its cruelty and Armenian vandalism.The terrible inhuman spectacle I have seen in Aghdam, Fizuli, Jabrail and Zangelan is a real evidence of a war crime committed by Armenian vandals. Both Robert Kocharian, Serzh Sargsyan and Nikol Pashinyan must sooner or later answer before an international court.
Nobody forgot about the terrible act of genocide in Khojaly. I even wrote a feature-documentary novel "Pain" with my father, dedicated to this act of genocide of Azerbaijanis by Armenian Armed forces in Khojaly on February 26,1992.
All the events around the terrible February night in Khojaly are real events with documentary and video materials, testimonies of witnesses, foreign journalists and experts who were at that moment in the Azerbaijani city, the only fault of the inhabitants of which was that they have been Azerbaijanis.
In an interview with British journalist Thomas de Waal in connection with the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict, included in the book "Karabakh: Armenia and Azerbaijan on the path of peace and war", former President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan answered the question about the Khojaly tragedy:
"Before Khojaly, Azerbaijanis thought that we are joking with them. They believed that the Armenians are a people who will not be able to raise a hand against the civilian population. We managed to destroy this stereotype. Moreover, we did it and this is what happened. "
I think all comments are superfluous. For this Armenian vandalism and terrorism, human and ecological genocide, which expelled more than one million Azerbaijanis from their ancestral lands, they must answer for war crimes. The crime must not go unpunished!
The author is the israeli political analyst, head of the ISP 'International Society Projects', an NGO at YR Group the Israeli branch of the Baku International Multiculturalism Center.
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