Politics 17:02 12/04/2016 World

Maragha Genocide eye witness: I never saw again any of people who were in captivity with me in Azerbaijan

On the Maragha Genocide victims commemorative days, Panorama.am presents a series of testimonies of Maragha people.

On April 10, 1992, after a 3-hour artillery preparation, the subunits of the Azerbaijani regular army invaded the peaceful village of Maragha from the Azerbaijani Mir-Bashir (currently Tartar). The attack was not dictated by military necessity. Over 100 people became victims of the aggression – mainly women, children, and old people. Civilians were killed by the most cruel ways: they were partitioned, burnt alive, beheaded, thrown under tanks, or cut with axes. About 50 people were taken hostages, including 9 children. While in captivity, many Maragha residents were tortured, humiliated, and were a subject to an inhuman treatment. Many of them were later exchanged, but the fate of many is still unknown. In about two weeks, on April 22-23, Maraghawas again attacked, people, who had returned to the site of fire, had to leave the native town forever. Currently, Maragha is under Azerbaijani occupation.Baroness Caroline Cox called Maragha“contemporary Golgotha.”

The details of what happened in the once prosperous village 24 years ago, on 10 April 1992, still chill blood, making one doubt whether the perpetrators can have the right to be called human beings. The stories of the survivors, who currently live in the village Nor (New) Maragha, leave no doubt that what happened in the Karabakh village on that day completely matches the definition of genocide provided by a respective UN Convention. Back in 1997, the Armenian side submitted documents and facts about the tragedy in Maragha to the UN Human Rights Committee. The process could not be accomplished then. However, the Armenian side intends to introduce the Maragha dossier to international agencies once again in the frameworks of An Ordinary Genocide project. 

The full materials on the topic can be found on karabakhrecords.info and maragha.org.

Incidents were constantly taking place in our village after “sumgait.” The cattle was being stolen from pastures, our drivers were being stopped and the cars were being seized. There was an unceasing tension all the time. The first firing was in January 1992. After that, we moved to live in the basements. We built barricades from sucks with sand to keep the shells from hitting the houses; and we dug shelters in the ground. We continuously heard about attacks on farms, winegrowers, shepherds. The first victim was in autumn 1991 – a tractor driver was shot right at the wheel as he was sowing.
My son was 3 by then, and daughter was 1 year and 4 months. On that day, on 10 April 1992, the Azerbaijanis rushed into our village. They pulled my children out of my arms. When they were taking them away, I was like insane; that is why I do not remember much. They took us out of the village on foot, pushed us forward, pulled and dragged people along after them. I can remember seeing several defaced bodies hacked into pieces on my way, and I recognized my fellow-villagers. There were many hostages with us not only from our blindage but also from the other corners of the village. I saw my mother-in-law and our neighbor, an old woman, being pushed forward. We were all gathered in the center of the village and it was where I saw them for the last time.

Then a shot was heard. I looked round but didn’t see anyone. I don’t know whether they killed or not. They threw several women on the ground, right in the weeds and nettle, in front of a house with the basement window on the level of the ground, and shouted, “Your guys hid in this house. Shout them to come out or we will kill you.” Still, they kept silent. Then I was dragged away and I heard a shot. When I turned around, they were lying on the ground. But then, when our people entered the village, no corpses could be found. It is unknown whether they were killed or driven away. There is still no information about my mother-in-law.

We were all held together at night and on the next day. They were constantly pointing their guns at us and threatening to kill. In those moments, I wanted to be killed as soon as possible so that I would not feel anything. There was even a moment when I wanted to secretly take an arm to kill myself and put an end to that nightmare. On the next day, they said they were going to bury some of their killed people and that they would slaughter us on their graves. But they didn’t touch us. Maybe they took away guys, I don’t know. Some people took a young woman from our village for exchange, they said. Of the people who were there with me, I never saw anyone again. I don’t know what happened to them. Maybe they were really slaughtered on the graves, shot or something else. There were women, children, old people and young guys from different villages.

Then I was thrown in the trunk of a Zhiguli and taken to Barda. An Azerbaijani told me there that his son was taken into captivity and that he wanted to exchange me. He found my son Narek on the fourth day and brought him to me. He also found Karen, my sister’s son, and took him to his mother, Zarine. He promised to find my one-year-old daughter Lelya, as well. I wrote a letter to my family and mentioned his son’s name, Akhundov Hafiz, for them to find him. We stayed with them for three months, secretly, in different places, so that no one knew that there were Armenians in the village.

On 9 July, I was exchanged with the son in the village Togh, Hadrut District. I found my family in Stepanakert. Our village was occupied. We set on looking for Lelya. There was only one photo remaining of her. We handed the photo and information about my daughter to the Azerbaijanis and they informed us that the baby was in an orphanage. However, we spent a year and seven months to convince everyone that it was my baby. We exchanged her on 21 October 1993, when Lelya was already 3. Of course, she didn’t recognize me, she didn’t come up. She didn’t want to let off the orphanage nurse’s hand. Meanwhile, the nurse was reproaching me and blaming for giving the child to the orphanage myself. But I didn’t feel anything at that moment. I was only counting the minutes to take my daughter and leave. The girl did not want to come to me and even cried after the nurse. Then she gradually got used. But she remained frightened for long. As soon as she saw a soldier or a car, she started to cry…

So far, we know nothing about my husband and his father. They were taken alive, but we don’t know what happened to them after that.

The recent events in the village Talysh (NKR) also remind of “Maragha.” On April 2, 2016, Azerbaijani divisions, including armed cap-a-pie mercenaries, managed to invade the village. The atrocities committed by them and later photographed by reporters shocked the public. The Azerbaijani saboteurs shot elderly civilians Valera Khalapyan and his wife Razmella, and cut their ears. They also shot the aged and helpless MarusyaKhalapyan (born in 1924).

Source Panorama.am
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