On February 26, a vernissage of the exhibition "The Night of Khojaly" comprised of paintings which French Artist Renaud Baltzinger devoted to the Khojaly tragedy, was held at the Cultural Centre of Azerbaijan in Paris, the website of Heydar Aliyev Foundation reported on Tuesday.
The organizational support was provided by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, the Heydar Aliyev Centre and Azerbaijan's Embassy in France. In addition to paintings, photos related to the bloody event were displayed at the exhibition.
Welcoming the guests, Azerbaijani ambassador to France Elchin Amirbayov said the tragedy occurred on the night of February 26 in Khojaly will never be effaced from the memoirs of Azerbaijanis. The ambassador mentioned that the news coming from Karabakh about the violence committed 21 years ago by Armenian armed forces against peaceful civilians in Khojaly shocked the whole world. He noted that committed on the grounds of the Armenian-Azerbaijani, Nagorno Karabakh conflict this act of genocide so far remains unknown to the French public.
"Pursuing a policy of ethnic cleansing, Armenia has occupied 20 percent of our territory and, as a result, over one million Azerbaijanis have been forced out of their homes. Serge Sarkisyan, who had led the Armenian armed forces that had mercilessly killed unarmed residents of Khojaly, is now the president of Armenia. Those committing an act of genocide against Khojaly should be brought before a court of justice. The world society should give a political appraisal of this act. The Khojaly Genocide will never be forgotten," the ambassador said.
Mentioning that the campaign "Justice to Khojaly!" has been held since 2008, the ambassador said thousands of people have joined this campaign in order for justice to gain victory. Amirbayov said that recognition of this genocide is of great importance both in terms of commemorating the memory of Khojaly victims and also giving a hope to future generations.
Stressing the fact that these tragic events were recognized by Mexico, Pakistan and other countries as a genocide, Amirbayov said a number of states of America have appraised the tragedy of Khojaly as a genocide against the people of Azerbaijan. He expressed a hope that the events occurred in Khojaly will be recognized as a genocide by French politicians as well.
Azerbaijani Minister of Agriculture Ismet Abbasov, who was in France on an official visit and participated at the event, spoke about the Khojaly massacre and mentioned that this is not the first massacre against Azerbaijanis. He stressed that in 1905-1907, 1918-1920, at the end of 1940 there were massacres against Azerbaijanis who were savagely killed by Armenians.
In her speech, French Senator Nathalie Goulet who worked with the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and the Parliament of Azerbaijan towards promoting Azerbaijan in France and acted as the Vice-president of the France-Caucasus Friendship Group in the Senate mentioned that she made repeated visits to Azerbaijan and stressed that promotion of Azerbaijan's history and culture was of significance.
Then she brought to attention her speech in the Senate where she mentioned the opening of the Khojaly airport as sabotage and the tragedy of Khojaly as a tragedy of the humanity.
Artist Renaud Baltzinger said he had worked on the pieces displayed at the exhibition for two years and approached the choice of a color for each work seriously adding that the red color on the panels were reflecting the blood of those fallen during the Khojaly tragedy.
Baltzinger noted that he was proud of being the first French artist to revive the night of Khojaly in his works. The artist thanked the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and its President Mehriban Aliyeva for the support provided to organization of the exhibition.
At the end, commemorative feast was given in memory of the Khojaly victims.
The Khojaly massacre is one of the most heinous and bloodiest events of the 20th century. Late into the night of February 25, 1992, the town of Khojaly came under intensive fire from the town of Khankendi and Askeran already occupied by Armenian armed forces. At night the Armenian forces supported by the ex-Soviet 366th regiment completed the surrounding of the town already isolated due to ethnic cleansing of the Azerbaijani population of the neighboring regions. The joint forces occupied the town, which was ruined by heavy artillery shelling.
Thousands of fleeing civilians were ambushed by Armenian forces. Punitive teams of the so-called Nagorno Karabakh defense army reached the unprotected civilians to slaughter them, mutilating and scalping some bodies. In just a few hours, 613 civilians were killed, including 106 women, 70 elderly and 83 children. A total of 1,000 civilians were disabled. 56 people were killed with outrageous brutality, eight families were totally exterminated, and 25 children lost both parents, while 130 children lost at least one parent, in what became the most brutal punishment of civilians during the three years of the conflict's military phase. Moreover, 1,275 innocent people were taken hostage, while the fate of 150 remains unknown.