Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb. 24
On 23 February, the multi-award-winning independent documentary Endless Corridor - a US/Lithuanian co-production - was screened in the Boothroyd Room of Portcullis House - part of the UK Parliament. Organised by Bob Blackman MP, Chair, Azerbaijan All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), and attended by Baroness O'Cathain and Lord Howarth, APPG members, this commemorated the victims of the Khojaly Massacre on 26 February 1992. This was the worst single atrocity of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh that claimed the lives of 613 civilian victims in 1992. The death toll included 106 women, 63 children and 70 elderly people. The screening was organised within the Justice for Khojaly campaign.
Following its international premiere throughout 2015, Endless Corridor has received plaudits from critics across the world. It has received the Best Documentary and Best Director for a Documentary Prizes at the Tenerife International Film Festival in Madrid; the Best Documentary Editing Prize at the Milano International Filmmakers Festival; and in the prestigious US-based Accolade Global Film Competition, it achieved two awards - Best of Show in May 2015 and in January 2016 the Outstanding Achievement Award in the Accolade Humanitarian Awards 2015. It has also been screened on the pan-European Eurochannel, CNN Turk and TV 24 (Turkey) channels.
Speaking before the audience of 110 parliamentarians, journalists, humanitarians, friends of Azerbaijan and cinephiles, Lionel Zetter, Director, TEAS, said: "We are honoured to be organising this event under the auspices of Bob Blackman on behalf of the Justice for Khojaly campaign, which was founded in 2008 by Mrs Leyla Aliyeva. This has promoted this film and organised other Khojaly commemorative events in over 100 countries. Khojaly has come to symbolise the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh because it was an organised massacre of women and children. The events of Khojaly were in living memory and there were some survivors. During previous screenings of the film, I was honoured to meet Valeh Huseynov, whose painfully moving testimony of the way in which his wife was shot dead is heard in the film. He was brutally tortured, but he is still alive today.
"Currently, Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven surrounding regions are still occupied by Armenia, in direct defiance of four UN Security Council resolutions. This situation is not acceptable to Azerbaijan and any country around the world. If the rule of international law is flouted, it results in conflicts and civil war. Always - the women and children suffer. I hope tonight's screening will act as a memorial to those who died on that night and that you will understand the pain that the surviving Azerbaijanis suffered."
Mr Blackman explained: "Endless Corridor is harrowing viewing, that is undeniable, and there is no question that the massacre took place. During my visits to Azerbaijan, I have seen the work undertaken to accommodate the approximately one million IDPs and refugees who are the ongoing victims of the conflict. The biggest tragedy is that no-one has been brought to justice for the war crimes and crimes against humanity, committed against those who wanted to live peacefully in their homeland. I will be submitting an Early Day Motion (EDM) to Parliament this week to remember the victims. Every time I go to Azerbaijan, one question is raised - four UN Security Council resolutions have been passed against the Armenian occupation - but nothing happens. I wonder why this part of this world remains ignored and forgotten. In my view, as many people need to see this film as possible - particularly politicians. I will do all I can to ensure parliamentarians hear about the tragedy and continue to demand answers and action."
Aleksandras Brokas, Director, Endless Corridor, explained: "Whenever I rewatch this film in different cities, I am aware that nearly 50 per cent of the people featured in the film have passed away. Young Günay's experience of trauma caused her to become speechless and led to her death two weeks after the end of shooting. The most important aspect is that those featured in the film now know they are not alone in their pain and grief. We aimed to show how the innocent people were affected." He went on to field a series of questions from the audience regarding the geopolitical background to the conflict.
H.E. Tahir Taghizadeh, Azerbaijani Ambassador to the UK, said: "Thank you to TEAS and the Justice for Khojaly campaign for organising this wonderful and frank evening. The audience tonight brought the most precious gift - that of their time, hearts and minds. We are currently discussing the development of confidence-building measures, but there is no confidence or trust between Azerbaijan and Armenia. There will be no trust until those responsible for Khojaly are brought to justice."
The evening was dedicated to the memory of the Khojaly victims and those Azerbaijanis who have only one wish - to return home.