Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb. 23 / Trend V. Zhavoronkova/
The main success of Azerbaijan is the recognition of the Khojali tragedy as genocide at the political level, the general secretary of the Youth Forum of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for dialogue and cooperation Elshad Iskandarov believes.
"The success is being judged by results and I think that the main result is the recognition of the Khojali tragedy at the political level as genocide on several instances," Iskandarov said in an interview with Trend.
The "Justice for Khojaly" campaign initiated by OIC Youth Forum General Coordinator Leyla Aliyeva, that have started almost three years back has a tremendous impact on the international community's perception on the mass massacre perpetrated in Khojali in 1992, he stressed.
The campaign is aimed to bring the truth about the Khojaly tragedy and to achieve political and moral evaluation of the tragedy by the world community. It has been successfully implemented by hundreds of volunteers in more than 35 countries around the world.
Today the result of the campaign is that the issue of Khojali is being discussed at various forums ranging from the United Nations to various platforms at the OIC, Iskandarov said.
"What led to this is that the campaign from the very beginning targeted at international auditory by means of multi language webpage of campaign, facebook group, which now is subscribed by 30,000 citizens of foreign countries," he added.
Iskandarov said the campaign used creative means to get together with the traditional means of information distribution, for example a manifest by American and Azerbaijani artists, flash mob actions, poster distribution, competitions.
"So, traditional and creative means together with targeting at international auditory tremendously raised the awareness on the Khojali massacre," he added.
He stressed that at the end of January the Parliamentary Assembly of the OIC which unites representatives from 51 parliaments as its member institutions, adopted a resolution which recognized this event named "Khojali massacre" as the act of genocide.
"That lays the ground for further recognition of this fact in the national Parliaments of member-states," Iskandarov said.
He mentioned the recognition of the Khojali genocide in Pakistan, which is the active member in the OIC, and which utilizes opportunity to bring the recognition to its national parliament.
"I think that other members should follow, but the work to raise awareness on this should be now held on the national level, and all friends of Azerbaijan and Diaspora organizations with their activists are invited to follow this activity." Iskandarov added.
He also mentioned Mexico, where the recognition of Khojali genocide "is not coincidence".
At the campaign's facebook page and webpage, the third, sometimes the second most popular language is Spanish and the third distribution is among Spanish-speaking people, Iskandarov said.
The events organized in Mexico within the campaign are indeed very significant, what is clear from the fact that Mexican parliament expressed its opinion on the Khojali, he added.
The OIC Youth forum is continuing its work with parliaments, mostly on the awareness level - this year it will have an event in Turkish parliament and with the participation of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the organization hopes that the other countries, in particular OIC member states in a short period will follow, Iskandarov said.
"The ice is broken, the justice has started being restored and we think that others will follow us," he added.
He also mentioned that OIC Youth forum is in constant consultations with International organizations.
Some of the organizations on some degree are involved in the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, that is why they have political sensitivities and they are bound to the positions of their member-states in approaching this issue, the official said.
"That is why consultations are ongoing and the issue which we are pursuing is to divide the political and humanitarian part of the issue," Iskandarov added.
"The recognition is being demanded in the name of justice for the victims and restoration of moral responsibility of the human kind since non-recognition of crimes leads to their repetition," he stressed.
He said the OIC Youth forum has concrete activities with some of international organizations. For instance, in 2009 they started a process together with organizations which follow the cases of Srebrenitsa, Holocaust, and they have convenience at the UN Geneva office.
Iskandarov noted the organization has ongoing consultation with the Council of Europe, very good cooperation with ISESCO, as the result the two conferences - the ministerial conference on education and on culture adopted documents, which invite to promote of the campaign through cultural activities and inclusion of the text on Khojali massacre in the textbooks of higher education institutions.
Also, OIC Youth forum has cooperation with foreign ministers of the organization. The Council of Foreign Ministers last year recognized Khojali as a crime against humanity and will be now following this cooperation to bring recognition up to the level of genocide, which it is, he added.
"For the last well organized, well connected and politically very strong Armenian lobby is filling the international audience with one-sided information like what is the reason of such a push for the so-called 'Armenian genocide' recognition," he noted.
"That is not, of course, directly connected to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, at least the background and the general atmosphere of victimized Armenians. So, all other demands by them and all other actions, including the cover of the crime, perpetrated by Armenian forces in Khojali be somehow under looked by the international community, be forgiven to them, be compromised to them."
Therefore what is on the other side of this frontline is huge in most parts based on the disinformation, but still well organized Armenian propaganda, Iskandarov believes.
But he stressed that the situation is changing, including because of the campaign there is more awareness in the international community on the legal basis of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, on its political basis, on the general perception that victims in this conflict are not Armenians, who present themselves as the minority in Azerbaijan, but in fact Azerbaijani minority in Nagorno Karabakh and the Khojali civilians are the case in hands in this regard.
"So, there is a lot to be done, a lot to be done professionally, and informational aspect of the conflict is no of less important than its other political aspects," Iskandarov said.
Armenian armed forces with the help of the 366th motor-rifling regiment occupied Azerbaijan's Khojaly city and committed genocide, killing hundreds of innocent people because of their ethnic background on February 26, 1992. As a result, 613 people were savagely killed, 487 were injured, and 1,275 people were taken into hostage. The fates of many of them are still unknown. After the 366th motor-rifling regiment's withdrawal from Khankendi, a major part of the military equipment owned by this military unit was transferred to the Armenian separatists.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 per cent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France and the U.S. - are currently holding peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions.