Today.Az » Your Corner » Your Corner: One American’s sorrow over the innocent Azerbaijani victims
03 April 2010 [11:00] - Today.Az
"Your Corner" is exactly what you think it is - your stories, pictures, art, and pretty much everything else you can share with the rest.

As part of our “Your Corner” project, we present our readers something different this time. It’s an article, which was sent to us, by an American, Matthew Kent, who lives and works in Azerbaijan. It’s a somewhat detailed look at the tragedy of Azerbaijani people from a man, who is neither Armenian nor Azeri. An outside man, who decided to speak out about something he got very close with.



Over the last several days I have observed the festivals of the Nowruz holiday in Azerbaijan and the wonderful time it is to be here as an American. I get to see the history, the old outfits, food, traditions and the general happiness of the Azeri people.

There is of course a my lingering thoughts of the photos I saw last month of the victims from Nagorno-Karabakh, and how they are unable to enjoy this holiday in their own homes. The pictures I received were grim reminders of what happened there. A sobering thought that I am no longer in America, and that tragedy is but a few hours drive from where I live. Also of the nearly 8% of Azerbaijan's total population of 8 million has been left homeless as a result of the war with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

These thoughts of the homeless and of the genocide that happened on February 1992, were brought to my attention last month when I was emailed pictures of what occurred there. Anyone that knows me, knows I have to let things sink in and I have to think about them before I can even discuss them.

Unable to be with family and friends in this festive time, the surviving refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh make due, with what they are able to. Generations of Azeri's that once occupied an area of land where family knew family and cousins and aunts and uncles were just around the corner. Now of course impossible to do, since they are refuges from their own homeland.

I was raised in New England, where we knew our family, our cousins, aunts and uncles and they were a corner away, I am sure much like what it was in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, before the war. Nothing like that remains there today, but grim reminders of a genocide and occupation of a once proud people. This occurred less then a generation ago.

As my Congress, the American Congress fights over healthcare and Turkish-Armenian relations, they are unable to address the genocide that occurred here in Azerbaijan in 1992. This to me as an American living here is very disappointing and raises a lot of questions to me from my Azeri friends and co-workers on the intentions of the American government. Asking me, "What is the American Congress doing?" "Why does America look the other way, Americans are our friends our allies" I look away, out the window and I cant look them in the eye, because I do not have the answer to their questions as I meet their questions with "I do not know" or with just silence. For me as an American this is uncomfortable, because I have seen the pictures, read the articles and wonder, why doesn't Congress act?  

I am then reminded of not just the homeless that were forced to flee, but of also the ones that remained and were tortured at the hands of the Armenian forces. You would of course think how could Armenians commit these acts to Azeris? It did happen however. There are photographs, witness statements and documentation of this occurrence. Where is the justice or even progress in resolving this? I have to say this, the Azeri people will never give up this land or forget it belongs to them.

I have seen the pictures and they are not pretty ones. Pictures of the dead, not as combatants dressed in uniforms and carrying weapons, but of women, children, the elderly. Combatants? Militia?  Caught in fire of 2 opposing forces? No, they cant be, were women and little children throwing rocks and sticks at men with guns? Suppose they were throwing sticks and stones, how do explain 613 victims? The disfigured pictures I have seen were ones not of soldiers, but of women and children that who were killed for no apparent reason, other then they were Azeri. Scared, running for their lives only to be cut down and killed by Armenians bent on occupation and erasure.

So once again, I feel sorry for the Azeri people who are unable to enjoy this holiday season once again with family in their own homes from the Nagorno-Karabakh region. One day, they will be able too again, this I am sure of.

Matthew Kent
Baku, Azerbaijan


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