27 years since Khank­endi oc­cu­pa­tion

Azer News - - Front Page - By Ab­dul Ker­imkhanov

Khank­endi, the cen­ter of Up­per Karabakh, the re­gion of Azer­bai­jan, was oc­cu­pied by Ar­me­nian armed forces on De­cem­ber 26, 1991 and a sep­a­ratist regime was cre­ated. The last Azer­bai­jani fam­i­lies were ex­pelled from Khank­endi on that date.

Khank­endi, the cen­ter of Up­per Karabakh, the re­gion of Azer­bai­jan, was oc­cu­pied by Ar­me­nian armed forces on De­cem­ber 28, 1991 and a sep­a­ratist regime was cre­ated. The last Azer­bai­jani fam­i­lies were ex­pelled from Khank­endi on that date.

Khank­endi is a de­vel­oped in­dus­trial cen­ter of Azer­bai­jan, lo­cated on the coast of the Gar­gar river, in the eastern foothills of the Karabakh ridge, 329 km of Baku. There are light and food in­dus­try en­ter­prises in the city. Such en­ter­prises as elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer­ing, car re­pair and as­phalt con­crete plants, fur­ni­ture fac­tory, con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als, in­dus­trial, man­u­fac­tur­ing and ed­u­ca­tional pro­duc­tion com­bines.

Ac­cord­ing to his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ments, Khank­endi was set up as a res­i­dence for the rest of Karabakh khanate's Khan. Karabakh khanate was one of the in­de­pen­dent states of Azer­bai­jan in the late 18th cen­tury. And the name of the city came from here. By the year 1813, Ar­me­ni­ans were not liv­ing in Khank­endi, and then the pol­icy of eth­nic cleans­ing was car­ried out by the Rus­sian Em­pire and Ar­me­ni­ans were de­ported there from Iran.

The pol­icy of eth­nic cleans­ing against the Azer­bai­ja­nis in Khank­endi dur­ing the USSR strength­ened, and the num­ber of Ar­me­nian fam­i­lies in the city ar­ti­fi­cially in­creased. Nagorno-Karabakh Au­tonomous Re­gion was formed as part of Azer­bai­jan with the cap­i­tal Khank­endi in 1923. Then, the pol­icy of Ar­me­ni­an­iza­tion of the prov­ince was ac­ti­vated. Tak­ing into ac­count the ap­peal of Ar­me­ni­ans on Oc­to­ber 6, 1923, the name of Khank­endi was re­named Stepanakert in honor of Stepan Shau­mian, a geno­cide com­mit­ted against the Azer­bai­jani peo­ple. The Ar­me­ni­ans were pro­moted to lead­er­ship po­si­tions in the Au­tonomous Prov­ince. Thus, the Khank­endi be­gan to fall un­der Ar­me­nian oc­cu­pa­tion.

Dur­ing the for­mer USSR, the Azer­bai­ja­nis liv­ing in Khank­endi grad­u­ally were forced out of there. When the events of 1988 be­gan, the Ar­me­nian pop­u­la­tion in Khank­endi was con­sid­er­ably larger than Azer­bai­ja­nis. At that time, the num­ber of Azer­bai­ja­nis was about 17,000, while the Ar­me­ni­ans had risen to 40,000. Khank­endi was al­ready the cen­ter of Ar­me­nian sep­a­ratism in 1988-1989. Last Azer­bai­ja­nis were ex­pelled from Khank­endi on De­cem­ber 26, 1991. And the oc­cu­pa­tion of the city was com­pleted.

As many as 34 peo­ple were killed and 150 in­jured in var­i­ous bat­tles for the Kark­i­ja­han and sur­round­ing ar­eas. Three of the mar­tyrs were women and two were chil­dren.

Be­fore the oc­cu­pa­tion, the pop­u­la­tion of Kark­i­ja­han vil­lage was 1,796 peo­ple. As many as 350 house­holds, two sec­ondary schools, one kinder­garten, a library, a club, an au­to­matic tele­phone ex­change, 10 shops, a poly­clinic, five pro­duc­tion work­shops and other house­hold ob­jects were de­stroyed in Kark­i­ja­han.

To­day, af­ter more than a quar­ter-cen­tury have passed since the oc­cu­pa­tion of Khank­endi, Azer­bai­jani in­ter­nally dis­placed peo­ple still wait for the re­turn to their na­tive places. Re­gret­tably, their de­sire re­mains un­no­ticed by the world com­mu­nity – Ar­me­nia keeps ig­nor­ing four UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions on with­drawal of its armed forces from Azer­bai­jan's Nagorno-Karabakh and seven sur­round­ing re­gions.

Azer­bai­jan tries to re­solve the con­flict as soon as pos­si­ble, while the ag­gres­sor Ar­me­nia does the op­po­site by mak­ing every ef­fort to pre­serve the sta­tus quo in Nagorno-Karabakh. Cur­rently, 20 per­cent of the Azer­bai­jani ter­ri­to­ries re­main un­der Ar­me­nian oc­cu­pa­tion and over 1 mil­lion refugees and IDPs have to live far away from their homes in hope of re­turn­ing there some­day.

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