On February 25, 2010, Azerbaijani-American Council (AAC), Azerbaijan Society of America (ASA), Assembly of Turkish-American Associations (ATAA), the George Washington University Turkish Student Association, the Association of Turkish-Americans of Washington (ATA-DC) and the Azerbaijani-American Student Association (AASA) co-organized a successful conference dedicated to the 1992 Khojaly Massacre at George Washington University in Washington, DC.
Featuring the presentation of “Justice For Khojaly” music video by hiphop performer Toni Blackman and “Dayirman” Azeri rap group, the conference in DC was widely attended by the university students, media, representatives of the Embassy of Azerbaijan in the United States, Azerbaijani and Turkish communities. The second part of the event was the Pax Turcica community workshop on the upcoming U.S. Census.
Speaking at the conference were the Ambassador of Azerbaijan to the United States, H.E. Yashar Aliyev; AAC General Director, Dr. Javid Huseynov; the AzerTAg news agency U.S. desk representative, Shafag Mehraliyeva, ASA President, Tomris Azeri, U.S. State Department-chosen music ambassador and the author of “Justice for Khojaly” music video, Toni Blackman; Grammy-winning producer of the music video, Gordon Williams; and ATAA President, Gunay Evinch.
Opening the event, Ambassador Yashar Aliyev highlighted the importance of increased awareness and broad recognition of Khojaly Massacre as a crime against humanity, in order to prevent the repetition of such crimes in future. He expressed his gratitude to the event organizers as well as to the international campaign of “Justice for Khojaly” led by the Organization for Islamic Conference Youth Forum (OIC-YF) general coordinator, Leyla Aliyeva.
Speaking further, journalist Shafag Mehraliyeva outlined that Khojaly Massacre was above all an act of terror conducted by Armenian forces against the civilian Azerbaijani population. She further highlighted the words of Serzh Sargsyan cited in Tom De Waal’s “The Black Garden” book as an example of intent to inflict a psychological damage upon Azerbaijani people by way of brutal massacre against civilians. Mehraliyeva also shared her personal impressions of Karabakh conflict, and Khojaly tragedy in particular, as a native of Karabakh.
AAC General Director, Dr. Javid Huseynov, spoke about the impact of Khojaly Massacre on Azerbaijani identity. He indicated that Armenians often recite Khojaly massacre as an excuse for the 1988 Sumgait riots. Yet there is a fundamental difference in that the victims and the perpetrators of Sumgait were fully served justice in courts, while no court hearing was ever held on Khojaly and many of its suspected perpetrators roam freely in Armenia and occupied Azerbaijani territories. He recited the fragments of Markar Melkonyan’s “My Brother’s Road” as a vivid admission of Khojaly crime in the words of ASALA terrorist, Monte Melkonian.
Huseynov indicated that regardless of the definition of Khojaly crime as a massacre or a genocide, the very cause and execution of it need to be evaluated in legal terms. He concluded by saying that the attempts to reconcile Armenian and Azerbaijani people will fail until justice is fully served on Khojaly. Thus, if Armenia is seeking to peacefully resolve the conflict, it should support the efforts to bring justice to Khojaly instead of denying the facts.
The event featured a presentation of “Justice for Khojaly” music video co-authored by the U.S. hiphop performer Toni Blackman and famous Azeri rap group “Dayirman,” produced by the Grammy-award-winning Gordon Williams, and sponsored by OIC’s international campaign “Justice for Khojaly.” Speaking at the event, both Blackman and Williams recited the insightful words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the vision of justice and shared their impressions from visiting the refugee camps in Agjabedi region of Azerbaijan. The following video presentation of the “Justice for Khojaly” clip was well received by the audience. Additionally, the short documentary on Khojaly prepared by journalist and Member of Parliament, Qanira Pashayeva, with support from Heydar Aliyev Foundation was presented at the event.
The second portion of the conference was a community workshop on the U.S. Census. Organized under the Pax Turcica initiative, this part featured ATAA’s Gunay Evinch, ASA’s Tomris Azeri, and AAC’s Dr. Javid Huseynov as speakers. ATAA president spoke about SayTurk campaign launched by his organization as a partner of the U.S. Census Bureau, in order to encourage active participation of Turkish-Americans in the 2010 Census. He further reached out to Azeri-American community to join efforts to help properly reflect the number of Turkic-speaking Americans in the upcoming census.
AAC, ASA and ATAA will continue Khojaly campaign week and Pax Turcica Census Workshop series with a rally in front of the United Nations in New York, on February 26th, and a public presentation on February 27th at the New York University’s Polytechnic Institute.
AZERBAIJANI AND TURKISH DIASPORAS COMMEMORATE KHOJALY VICTIMS IN AUSTRALIA
18th anniversary of Khojaly Genocide was commemorated in Sidney, Australia. Before the Friday prayer, nearly 3500 people at the Gelibolu Mosque, the largest mosque in Australia, were informed about the genocide in details by Vice President of Azerbaijan-Turkish Friendship Society and Turkic Associations Federation Imammaddin Gasimov. Then they prayed for the souls of Khojaly victims.
Nearly 150 representatives of the Azerbaijani, Turkish, other Turkic organizations and local community, as well as Azerbaijani students of the Australian universities gathered at the Turkish House to commemorate Khojaly tragedy. Izzet Anmak, Deputy Chairman of Auburn municipality, dense-populated by the Turkic-speaking people, attended the ceremony. Local Diaspora representatives showed video tapes sent by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation at the event organized by the Australian Azerbaijan-Turkish Friendship Society and Radio Voice of Azerbaijan, broadcasting in Sidney.
Head of the Turkish House Beshir Karasu and president of Turkic Associations Federation Dursun Candemir condemned the Armenian atrocities committed against Azerbaijani Turks.