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Ethnic Cleansing in Progress War in Nagorno Karabakh
By Caroline Cox and John Aijbner
with a preface by Elena Bonner Sakharov
Institute for Religious Minorities in the Islamic World Zurich. London, Washington 1993
The name of this village is associated with a massacre which never reached the world's headlines, although at least 45 Armenians died cruel deaths. During the CSI mission to Nagomo Karabakh in April, news came through that a village in the north, in Mardakert region, had been overrun by Azeri-Turks on April 10 and there had been a number of civilians killed. A group went to obtain evidcn ce and found a village with survivors in a state of shock, their bum-out homes still smouldering, charred remains of corpses and vertebrae still on the ground, where people had their heads sawn off, and their bodies burnt in front of their families. 45 people had been massacred and 100 were missing, possibly suffering a fate worse than death. In order to verify the stories, the delegation asked the villagers if they would exhume the bodies'which they had already buried. In great anguish, they did so, allowing photographs to be taken of the the decapitated, charred bodies. Later, when asked about publicising about this tragedy, theyreplied they were reluctant to do so as "we Armenians are not very good at showing our grief to the world".
We believe it is important to put on record these events and the way in which they have, or have not, been interpreted and port rayed by the people themselves, and by the international media. International public opinion is inevitably shaped by media coverage and lost a great deal of political support as a result of their alleged behavior at Khodjaly. The international media did not cover the massacre of the Armenians at Maragha at all. Consequently, in the eyes of the world, the armed forces of the Armenians of Nagomo Karabakh have been made to appear more brutal then those of the Az eri-Turks; in reality, evidence suggests that the opposite is more likely to be true.
Source: Ethnic Cleansing in Progress, War in Nagomo Karabakh, by Caroline Cox and John Eibner, Institute for Religious Minorities in the Islamic World, Zurich, London, Washington , 1993.
The name of this village is associated with a massacre which never reached the world's headlines, although at least 45 Armenians died cruel deaths. During the CS1 mission to Nagorno Karabakh in April, news came through that a village in the north, in Mardskert region, had been overrun by Azeri-Turks on April 10 and there had been a number of civilians killed. A group went to obtain evidence and found a village with survivors in a state of shock, their burnt-out homes still smouldering, charred remains of corpses and vertebrae still on the ground, where people had their heads sawn off, and their bodies burnt in front of their families. 45 people had been massacred and 100 were missing, possibly suffering a fate worse than death In order to verify the stories, the delegation asked the villagers if they would exhume the bodies which they had already buried. In great anguish, they did so, allowing photographs to be taken of the decapitated, charred bodies. Later, when asked about publicising about this tragedy, they replied they were reluctant to do so as "we Armenians are not very good at showing our grief to the world". We believe ii is important to put on record these events and the way in which they have, or have not, been interpreted and portrayed by the people themselves, and by the international media. International public opinion is inevitably shaped by media coverage and the Azeri-Turks certainly won great sympathy through their presentation of the 'Khodjaly massacre'. Conversely, the Armenians received much criticism and lost a great deal of political support as a result of their alleged behaviour at Khodjaly. The international media did not cover the massacre of the Armenians at Maragha at all. Consequently, in the eyes of the world, the armed forces of the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh have been made to appear more brutal than those of the Azeri-Turks; in reality, evidence suggests that the opposite is more likely to be true.
“Our fight will not just end in itself”-says president of the Karabagh National Assembly foreign relations committee Vahram Atanesyan
April 14, 2006
We can’t consider the tragedy in Maragha as a war because Maragha was not a military post, but rather a peaceful settlement.
It should be considered as a crime against humanity for which there is no expiration date for punishment and the perpetrators must be brought to justice sooner or later by Karabagh, as well as the international community.
This was what president of the Karabagh National Assembly foreign relations committee Vahran Atanesyan said on April 10 during a press conference dedicated to the “Tragic events in Maragh on April 10, 1992”.
In his speech, V. Atanesyan said that in 1992, in the early hours of the morning at 5 a.m., the Maragha village located in the Martakert region of Karabagh was attacked by missiles sent from Azerbaijan’s Mirbashir region (present day Tartar region) for three hours. Afterwards, Azerbaijani armed forces, which were supported by the subdivision of the 4th army of Gyanja allocated in Azerbaijan by the former Soviet Union, invaded the Maragha village and massacred the people living there. Nearly 100 people died, mainly women, children and elderly. The Azerbaijani armed forces took tens of hundreds of hostages with them as they left the village, some of which managed to escape while the rest remain missing (According to V. Atanesyan, there are about 30 missing hostages).
“As of April 10, 1992, there were more than 3,000 people living in Maragha. Currently, only 300 people who have survived the massacres live in the Nor Maragha village. In other words, more than 2 and a half thousand people are living abroad and don’t have the opportunity to come back to their homeland. The Maragha village is currently under the control of Azerbaijani armed forces, as well as the villages of Margushavan, Karmiravan, Seysula, etc. The Karabagh authorities have stated that the Karabagh conflict resolution must include Karabagh’s territorial integrity, especially the northern section of the Martakert region, which has been the region with the most agriculture and one of the most developed substructures of the republic. As a result of the tragic events in Maragha and the war in progress, five wine factories, nearly 30,000 vineyards have been destroyed, and the mother water route of Karabagh has also been ruined,” says Vahram.
V. Atanesyan also said with a feeling of pity that Armenia hadn’t done anything about the economic losses caused by Azerbaijan, as well as the evidence of the tragic crime committed by the Azerbaijani authorities and the armed forces.
Recently, Karabagh’s National Assembly has formed a temporary committee on reviewing the facts of the actual crime. V. Atanesyan hopes that the committee will be able to summarize the tragic events in Maragha before the end of the year, as well as present the facts of the atrocities committed in the territory of Karabagh to Armenian society, the international community, as well as the parliaments of the member countries of the OSCE Minsk Group. Atanesyan says that this must be done within the framework of Azerbaijan’s efforts to bring cases against spies of the Karabagh Defense Army and several significant individuals who fought in the Karabagh liberation war.
“We must be ready to present the facts to the international community not as a counterattack to Azerbaijan’s anti-propaganda, but so that the international community will know who, when and how were the people massacred and who was it that decided to took advantage of the war in order to organize ethnic-cleansing. Azerbaijan has led this kind of politics for years through peace when Karabagh was still located in Azerbaijan as an autonomous region. This politics reached the climax in 1991, when Azerbaijan let go of the opportunity to solve matters peacefully with the people of Karabagh and declared a war on Karabagh. So, the attacks on the border shouldn’t be looked at as the result of the politics led by the Karabagh authorities, but rather as the result of Azerbaijan’s aggression and keeping the people of Karabagh under foreign control as a means of defending the country. If we have the studies conducted by the National Assembly temporary committee, we can then present them to the international community and start the propaganda so that the international community also knows about Karabagh’s national-liberation struggle. Basically, the fact that the Karabagh conflict may be an honor for Azerbaijan, while it is a question of survival on the homeland for the people of Karabagh,” said the president of the Karabagh National Assembly foreign relations committee.
During the conference, the “Koltso” war was also touched upon and according to V. Atanesyan, both the National Assembly and the political parties must organize events to the 15th anniversary of the war.
“I don’t think that we have the chance today to bring the perpetrators to justice, but if we are going towards international recognition of Karabagh’s independence, then we must start raising the issue by announcing the names of the perpetrators one by one, especially since it’s no secret to anyone. These issues must not only be raised by announcements, but also by an official document, especially since today there are people living in Karabagh who have experienced living in those concentration camps, have been arrested as a result of the “Koltso” war and have been kept as prisoners in different prisons around Azerbaijan. There are even people who have been sentenced by Azerbaijani courts, but have later been released and turned into military hostages. We must also collect evidence regarding those people, analyze it and have an official document, which will help us prove that this struggle does not end in itself, that it started in our homeland in order to defend our right to live. We have not and aren’t digging a hole for ourselves. The only guarantee that we have to live here peacefully is the self-defense of our country with its security and national attributes,” said the president of the committee in closing.
13 YEARS HAVE PASSED SINCE THE MARAGHA TRAGEDY
11 April, 2005
The events of thirteen years’ prescription in the village of Maragha of the NKR Martakert region occupy a special place by the depth of human tragedy, the level of cruelty, the number of people exposed to violence and captured.
On April 10, 1992, as a result of the Azerbaijani regular army units’ attack the village was basically destroyed. According to various data, from 53 to 100 peaceful inhabitants were brutally killed, including 30 women, 20 of them of declining years. Their bodies were mutilated, beheaded, divided and burnt. 53 peaceful people were captured, including 9 children, 29 women (about 3 tens of hostages were then killed in the Azerbaijani captivity).
After 2 weeks Maragha was again attacked, the population deported, the houses robbed, many of them burnt. The deportation of the population was accompanied with the acts of violence and humiliation.
The observers note the events in Maragha also in the context that the violence on the peaceful population was made in the frames of military operation by a concrete military unit. It was not accidentally that the majority of the hostages appeared in private houses of the servicemen of the Interior Ministry, Defense Ministry, Detachments of Militia of Special Assignment, etc. The destiny of many hostages is not known yet.
Baroness Karoline Cox, who had visited the place of the tragedy, was shocked to the innermost of her heart by what she had seen. «They are not of human race» - the Baroness so spoke of the DMSA servicemen who had carried out the slaughter.
Survivors of Maraghar massacre: It was truly like a contemporary Golgotha many times over
Baroness Caroline Cox with Karabakhi children
The ancient kingdom of Armenia was the first nation to embrace Christianity — in AD 301. Modern Armenia, formerly a Soviet republic, declared autonomy in September 1991 and today exists as a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States. There you find many of the oldest churches in the world, and a people who have upheld the faith for nearly 1,700 years, often at great cost.
Nowhere has the cost been greater than in the little piece of ancient Armenia called Nagorno-Karabakh, cruelly cut off from the rest of Armenia by Stalin in 1921, and isolated today as a Christian enclave within Islamic Azerbaijan. Only 100 miles north to south, 50 miles east to west, there are mountains, forests, fertile valleys, and an abundance of ancient churches, monasteries, and beautifully carved stone crosses dating from the fourth century.
This paradise became hell in 1991. Vying with Armenia for control of this enclave, Azerbaijan began a policy of ethnic cleansing of the Armenians of Karabakh, and 150,000 Armenians were forced to fight for the right to live in their historic homeland. It was a war against impossible odds: 7 million-strong Azerbaijan, helped by Turkey and, at one stage, several thousand mujahideen mercenaries.
On April 10, 1992, forces from Azerbaijan attacked the Armenian village of Maraghar in northeastern Karabakh. The villagers awoke at 7 a.m. to the sound of heavy shelling; then tanks rolled in, followed by infantry, followed by civilians with pick-up trucks to take home the pickings of the looting they knew would follow the eviction of the villagers.
Azeri soldiers sawed off the heads of 45 villagers, burnt others, took 100 women and children away as hostages, looted and set fire to all the homes, and left with all the pickings from the looting.
I, along with my team from Christian Solidarity Worldwide, arrived within hours to find homes still smoldering, decapitated corpses, charred human remains, and survivors in shock. This was truly like a contemporary Golgotha many times over.
I visited the nearby hospital and met the chief nurse. Hours before, she had seen her son's head sawn off, and she had lost 14 members of her extended family. I wept with her: there could be no words.
With the fragile cease-fire that began in May 1994, we have been able to visit survivors of the massacre at Maraghar. Unable to return to their village, which is still in Azeri hands, they are building "New Maraghar" in the devastated ruins of another village. Their "homes" are empty shells with no roofs, doors, or windows, but their priority was the building of a memorial to those who died in the massacre.
We were greeted with the traditional Armenian ceremony of gifts of bread and salt. Then a dignified elderly lady made a speech of gracious welcome, with no hint of reference to personal suffering. She seemed so serene that I thought she had been away on that terrible day of the massacre. She replied: "As you have asked, I will tell you that my four sons were killed that morning, trying to defend us — but what could they do with hunting rifles against tanks? And then we saw things no human should ever have to see: heads that were too far from their bodies; people hacked into quarters like pigs. I also lost my daughter and her husband—we only found his bloodstained cap. We still don't know what happened to them. I now bring up their children. But they have forgotten the taste of milk, as the Azeris took all our cows."
How can one respond to such suffering and such dignity? Since the cease-fire, we have undertaken a program to supply cows. On our last visit, we met this grandmother, and, smiling, she said: "Thank you. Our children now know the taste of milk."
Nagorno-Karabakh is a place where we have found miracles of grace. The day of the massacre I asked the chief nurse, whose son had been beheaded, if she would like me to take a message to the rest of the world. She nodded, and I took out my notebook.
With great dignity, she said: "I want to say, 'Thank you.' I am a nurse. I have seen how the medicines you have brought have saved many lives and eased much suffering. I just want to say, 'Thank you,' to all those who have not forgotten us in these dark days."
Baroness Caroline Cox
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