Raoul Contreras: Entire world must know about Khojaly genocide

Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict Materials 2 July 2016 14:14 (UTC +04:00)

Baku, Azerbaijan, July 2

By Elmira Tariverdiyeva – Trend:

The 1992 massacre of hundreds of unarmed men, women and children in the Azerbaijani town of Khojaly by Armenian troops should be told so that such human cruelty does not repeat, says Raoul Lowery Contreras, author of the book titled ‘Murder in the Mountains: War Crime in Khojaly and the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict’.

The book by Contreras, who works closely with FOX News Latino and The Hill, and who is also an analyst at some leading US TV channels, is the first book about Khojaly genocide published and put for sale in the US.

On February 25-26, 1992, the Armenian armed forces, together with the 366th infantry regiment of Soviet troops, stationed in Khankendi, committed an act of genocide against the population of the Azerbaijani town of Khojaly.

As many as 613 people, including 63 children, 106 women and 70 old people were killed as a result of the massacre. Eight families were totally exterminated, 130 children lost one parent and 25 children lost both. A total of 487 civilians became disabled as a result of the onslaught. Some 1,275 innocent residents were taken hostage, while the fate of 150 people still remains unknown.

“I discovered the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict when I found a story about the "Frozen Conflict" in the New York Times for which I worked for several years,” he said in an interview with Trend. “The NY Times had several stories about the attempted secession of the Nagorno-Karabakh region and the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.”

“As I pride myself in international history and relations, I was aghast that I didn't know more about what happened in those years,” he said. “So I read everything I could find and bought two books, one (Azerbaijan Dairy) by Thomas Goltz, who was the only American reporting from the conflict at the time, and Thomas de Waal, a scholar who wrote his book - Black Garden.”

“The more I read and found out that a million Azerbaijanis were displaced by Armenian forces, the more I read,” he said.

As for the world community’s reaction regarding the crimes committed by Armenia, Contreras said the civilized world should be horrified by what happened on the night of February 26, 1992 at Khojaly and should be incensed that Armenia continues to illegally occupy Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts, which make up almost 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory.

He added that the entire world should punish Armenia economically and politically until it leaves Azerbaijan’s lands.

As for the assistance of the US in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Contreras said the US should flex its foreign relations and economic muscle as the OSCE Minsk Group’s co-chair by spending its massive political capital to promote a settlement of the entire question of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and press Armenia to quit its occupation of Azerbaijan territory.

“The US has a history of fighting off secession by fighting a war (Civil War of 1861-65) that cost the lives of 600,000 Americans,” he said. “With that history, the US is placed better than any nation to solve the problem.”

“The US president should personally get engaged in the resolution process as presidents of other co-chairs (Russia and France) have repeatedly done,” he said. “This is one conflict that can severely damage US interests, including but not limited to energy security.”

“So we need to be more active in the process and not yield the ground to others,” he said. “Also there is an urgent need to replace the current US co-chair with a more high profile US diplomat, if we wish our mediation effort to be more effective.”

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts. The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations.

Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.