No Place All over World can Replace Kalbajar for Me: Azerbaijani Refugee
Azerbaijan, Baku, 20 June / corr. Trend J. Babayeva/ 20th June is annually marked as refugee and IDP day in many countries including Azerbaijan. Over 1 million people became refugees and internally displaced persons as a result of the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and its surrounding seven regions. Trend new agency interviewed 73-year old refugee from Kalbajar Susan Mirzayeva who has been living in Baku for already 15 years. She had to flee from her Istisu village of Kalbajar region with other eight family members.
Kalbajar region of Azerbaijan was occupied by Armenia on 2 April 1993. A total of 511 residents of the region and 55 military men were killed with 321 men being taken as hostages and 60,698 people being evicted from their native lands.
Susan khanim remembers how she became refugee from Kalbajar:
On 31 March 1993 at 14:00 p.m. we found out that the Armenians are going to attack Kalbajar. The residents of Kalbajar village, where I lived, fled from their homes and could escape from the region with big troubles. I climbed up the body of Kamaz truck together with my 87 fellow-villagers. There were babies, old people and pregnant women in the truck. All the way long, we witnessed how Kalbajar was being destroyed. Armenian fired our truck. The bushes and trees on the roadside were burning because of the fire. The young girls in the truck were frightened. Pointing to Koran that we took from our home I said: We will arrive safe and sound if God permits". There were a lot of people who fled from Kalbajar on their own. All way long from Kalbajar we saw upturned cars, there were blankets and bed-sheets laying on the ground and mothers was trying to save their children on foot without cars. We spent night near the Meydanchay river inside Kamaz. Next day we reached the headquarters between Khanlar and Ganja regions. We resolved where we would go. After a week's stay in Gandja, we left for Baku. We do not yet how many people could flee from Istisu. My husband Bahman, who was still in the village, left it next day. He managed to take the key of our house in Kalbajar while leaving for Baku. Later we found out that 40 girls committed a suicide by drowning themselves in the Terterchay river so that not be taken hostages. Armenian made their helicopters look like that of Azerbaijanis by changing some parts of it. Many were cheated by getting in. Nothing has been heard from his people since then.
Question: What problems refugees face in their daily life?
Answer: The refugees have already got used to the difficult conditions. I do not think it is right to move refugees to the villages with more comfortable housing. If we intend to recover our lands, the refugees and IDPs should live in the own lands.
Question: Do you follow the peace talks on the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict?
Answer: We will not return our lands by means of talks. The talks are nothing more than a show. The war is the only way to free the occupied Azerbaijani lands. A land can not be given as a gift. When I hear that the Armenians are not going to return Kalbajar and Lachin, I begin to speak to myself as insane.
Question: Do you think the Azerbaijanis and Armenians can live together?
Answer: The Azerbaijanis and Armenians can never live together. It can never last long.
Question: What do you wish most of all?
Answer: Every inch of the Azerbaijani land is dear for me; no place can replace Kalbajar for me. Though I am old, I still hope that one day I will return to my land. If God permits, after our land is liberated, I will go to Kalbajar on foot if my knees do not let me down. My two sons are veterans of Nagorno-Karabakh war and they are always ready to fight for their land. Every time I pray, I ask Allah to help us return our lands.
Question: What young Kalbajarians who were born in Baku, think of their native region?
Answer: My 20-year old grand-daughter Yagut does not remember anything about Kalbajar, but I she wants to return there. My grand-sons who served in the arm hate Armenians. We should mark anniversaries of the occupation of Azerbaijani regions on high level so that the youth should not forget about them.
Question: How do you imagine the occupied Kalbajar now?
Answer: I do not believe that the occupied Kalbajar is the same as before. The Armenians have destroyed all buildings and they are benefiting from all resources. The unique nature of Kalbajar can feel touch of strangers. The enemies have stepped on our lands. Armenians burn our occupied lands deliberately, because they know that Azerbaijan will free their lands sooner or later.
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