On April 10, 1992, after a three-hour violent bombardment, the subunits of the Azerbaijani army invaded the village of Maragha from the Azerbaijani village of Mir-Bashir (now Tartar). As a result of this aggression hundreds of people were killed—mostly women, children, and elderly. Scores of people were taken hostages and later were exchanged, but the fate of many of them still remains unknown. Two weeks later, on April 22-23, the village was repeatedly attacked and the people who had come back to their burnt homes were forced to abandon the village once and for all.
The events in the village of Maragha became the precursor to more bloodshed at the hands of the Azeri Armed Forces, who later attacked Getashen, Martounashen, Buzlukh, Erkej and the other Armenian villages in the northern part of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
“In the history of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict, fraught with numerous acts of atrocity and vandalism by Azerbaijan, the events in the village of Maragha in the Martakert district of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, are one of the most extreme manifestations of sadism and barbarity ever known to humanity,” said a statement issued Monday by the Foreign Ministry of the Nagorno-Karabakh Reopublic.
One of the first eyewitnesses on the scene was long-time human rights advocate and a Vice Speaker of the British House of Lords, Baroness Cox, who visited the village a day later.
“It was like Golgotha…” she said after witnessing the atrocities committed by the Azeri armed forces.
“They are not of the human race,” said the Baroness about the Azerbaijani servicemen who had carried out the slaughter. Baroness Cox took pictures and videotaped the atrocities committed by the Azerbaijanis in the village of Maragha and also described them in her book “Ethnic Cleansing in Progress,” as well as in her numerous interviews.
“It is impossible to describe what we saw there. The village was completely destroyed. The people were burying the dead, rather to say anything that was possible to bury, charred human remains, tortured, cut or sawed parts of bodies. We saw the bloody swords by which they had done all these brutalities. After killing the villagers the Azeris robbed and burnt the village. By the way, they told us that the servicemen were followed by the civilians with trunks who were going to finish the robbery, – and we saw some of those trunks scattered all over the land, which the looters did not manage to take away with them,” Baroness Cox said in describing the atrocities.
“In 1997, a number of human rights organizations conjointly prepared a comprehensive reference on the events in Maragha and submitted it to the UN Commission on Human Rights. The Helsinki Watch International Human Rights Organization officially confirmed that scores of civilians were killed and tens of women and children were taken hostage. However, the international media did not cover the massacre of the Armenians in Maragha at all and the international community has not given yet a corresponding assessment to these tragic events,” said the Karabakh Foreign Ministry statement.
“You have the most powerful weapon – the truth,” said Baroness Cox. “You should bring it to the international structures’ attention that Azerbaijan attempted to commit genocide against the population of Karabakh. You must more actively present to the world the mass crimes perpetrated against Armenians in Maragha, Sumgait, Baku, etc. These are crimes against humanity. I support the Armenians and comprehend that they will never be able to live under the Azerbaijani dominion, as the Armenians of Karabakh, who lived under the control of Azerbaijan, suffered much.”
“The massacre in the village of Maragha, which is still under Azerbaijan’s occupation, cannot be called a military operation, as there were no military bases in the village but only peaceful citizens, who became the main target of the aggression. The crimes were aimed at deporting the Armenian people from their homeland,” the Ministry said, adding that “the slaughter of unarmed civil population of Maragha is a crime against humanity and civilization, without period of limitation, and the perpetrators of this crime must carry punishment to the fullest extent of the law.”
The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic parliamentary blocs of Fatherland, Democracy parties and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, as well as the “Artsakhatun” group issued a joint statement Tuesday to mark the 20th anniversary of the brutal massacres in Maragha.
“The operation was aimed at slaughtering and deporting the peaceful population of Maragha. As a result of the aggression hundreds of people were killed, deported or taken hostage,” said the parliamentary statement.
“Those responsible for the brutal crime committed in Maragha remain unpunished, and the village remains occupied. More than 1,000 former residents of Maragha now reside in different countries of the world,” explained the statement.
“Strongly condemning the crime committed in Maragha, the caucuses represented in the National Assembly categorize this as genocide and declare that they will ensure that the perpetrators and organizers of this crime against humanity are punished,” added the announcement.
The parliamentary blocs “will defend the rights of the Artsakh Armenians, including the restoration of the territorial integrity of the Republic of Artsakh, and will contribute to the continuous strengthening of the republic, viewing it as the most reliable guarantee of people’s security,” concluded the statement.
Watch videos of the afternath of the Maragha Massacres. WARNING: The videos contain scenes of grapghic nature, which may not be suitable for all viewers.