By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Wednesday, Feb. 26, will mark the 28th anniversary of one of the most gruesome and tragic acts of genocide in recent history.
And, for the most part, it is a massacre disremembered, given only a passing mention – if any – in modern-day history texts.
But for the people of Azerbaijan, the haunting anamnesis of the ruthless decimation of an entire village will be engrained in their collective memory forever.
Sadly, while some acts of genocides do receive the condemnation and repudiation they deserve, others seem to go unnoticed or disregarded by the global community.
Such is the case with the 1992 massacre of the Azerbaijani village of Khojaly.
In fact, Mexico is one of only 10 nations worldwide that have officially recognized the Khojaly massacre as an act of terrorism. (The Mexican Chamber of Deputies’ Foreign Relations Committee officially the violent mass murder in 2011, and one year later, a statue commemorating the victims of the deliberate act of ethnic cleansing was unveiled in Mexico City’s Tlaxcoaque-Khojaly Plaza.)
Twenty-eight years ago, during the Nagorno-Karabakh War, Armenian troops invaded Azerbaijani territory and razed the town to the ground, mercilessly butchering 613 innocent civilians, 83 of whom were children under the age of 14.
Additionally, more than a thousand ethnic Azerbaijanis were severely wounded, another thousand were taken prisoners. And 150 civilians were never accounted for.
The brutality of the incident included unthinkable acts of maiming and dismemberment.
No one was spared the heinous violence of the Armenian armed forces and mercenary units, except those few that managed to flee on foot. Of those who perished, 56 were killed with exceptional cruelty – burned alive, scalped, beheaded.
The international community, for its part, paid the obligatory courtesies of condemning the Khojaly massacre, with Human Rights Watch and Memorial declaring the mass killings “unjustifiable under any circumstances,” and the United Nations’ passing a toothless resolution reproving the carnage.
But after the requisite crocodile tears, most of the outside world turned its attention elsewhere and effectively forgot about Khojaly.
The Armenians refused to take any responsibility for the decimation of Khojaly, instead claiming that the murders were committed by Azerbaijan Popular Front militants who shot their own civilians escaping through the corridor.
The crimes against the people of Khojaly were and are crimes against all humanity, and the intention of the Armenians was clearly to wipe that village and its population off the face of the earth.
Each year, the Azerbaijani Embassy in Mexico organizes a small but solemn ceremony in remembrance of the Khojaly martyrs, but, by and large, the event goes unnoticed by either the Mexican press or local human rights groups.
Like so many other countries around the globe, it seems that Mexico has too many more pressing issues on its plate to be bothered with the slaughter of few hundred farmers in a remote village a quarter of a century ago.
But the world must take an affirmative stance to force Armenia to be accountable for the Khojaly slayings, and thus remove one of the major obstacles to reconciliation between Armenia and Azerbaijan by helping to open the way for healing between the two nations and bringing about a just settlement of the conflict.
In the meantime, Armenia, arrogant as ever, continues to occupy a full 20 percent of Azerbaijani territories in direct defiance of international efforts to encourage its withdrawal, and more than one million Azerbaijanis are refugees, driven from their occupied homeland.