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Azerbaijan is determined to resurrect the city of Agdam to its former glory

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A military band hailed the entry of Azerbaijan troops as Agdam was liberated from Armenian control (Screencap: AJ-AP)

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The Azerbaijani city of Agdam used to be a vibrant place to live, possessing a Bread Museum, a historic tea house, a theatre and much more. Then, on July 23, 1993, Armenian forces occupied the city, destroyed everything, and left the area as a ghost town. But now, following the Second Karabakh War, Azerbaijani internally displaced people who were forced to flee Agdam are now returning to their city.

On March 1, 1992, Thomas Goltz reported that “the Agdam hospital was а scene of carnage and terror. Doctors said they had 140 patients who escaped slaughter, most with bullet injuries and stab wounds. Nor were they safe in Agdam. Оn Friday night, rockets fell оn the city which has а population of 150,000,destroying several buildings and killing one person.”

Salim Azimov, a former resident of Agdam, proclaimed upon the liberation of the city: “It is very difficult to express my feelings in simple words. People usually shed tears when they are sad. But that day my family and I cried for joy. I am very happy to be reunited with my homeland. People around me call and congratulate me, and I could hardly answer them.”

“The liberated city of Agdam was the victim of Armenian vandalism,” he added. “All civilian infrastructure in the city was destroyed. When you watch videos taken in the city, you want to cry. It was as if a city had been wiped off the face of the earth. The destruction of a city means the destruction of the history of a nation.”

Imran Guliyev, who was from the Agdam region, witnessed the destruction of the city: “Armenians shelled the city and villages of Agdam with “Alazan” and “Grad” cannons. Our houses were falling apart. But we did not leave the city. We set up a tent in our yard and continued to live. Several people were killed in artillery fire in our neighbourhood. At that time, more than 100 civilians and soldiers were killed in Gasimli and the surrounding villages, where I lived. I worked as a teacher in the village. Many of my students were killed in battles.”

“When the Armenians entered the village of Shelli, the villagers passed through the village of Gasimli and went to the city of Agdam,” he added. “At this time, I could not believe my eyes. I had very heavy feelings. I immediately took my family and left the house. I couldn’t take anything from my house. For a while, I lived in the unoccupied villages of Aghdam. We suffered a lot. When the city of Aghdam was occupied on July 23, we moved to neighbouring Agjabadi. Today, only the land of Aghdam remains.”

Azimov had a similar experience: “Aghdam was occupied on July 23, 1993. At that time, I lived in the village of Novruzlu in Aghdam and worked as a school director. In early July, information about the atrocities committed by Armenians reached our village. Armenians entered the neighbouring village of Yusifjanli and began killing innocent people. On July 3, we started to leave the village. The road from our village to the centre of Aghdam was full of people, cars and cattle. İt was very difficult to withstand the noise. It was a terrible day. People left their homes crying. Some older people chose to stay in the village, and we later learned that they had been captured by the Armenians.”

“What bothered me the most was leaving the modern village school we built in 1989 on our own,” he added. “I was the director of this school. It was a really difficult time. When I left home, I was worried that I would never return. My family and I moved to the neighbouring Agjabadi district. I had no intention of going anywhere else because we always thought we would return home. But on July 23, we learned that the centre of Aghdam was also occupied. Then my family and I moved to Baku. It was very difficult for me to live far from home. But I always knew that one day I would return to Agdam.”

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Ilduza Askerova, another former resident of Agdam, added: “Aghdam was one of the richest cities of the USSR. The people of Aghdam were very hardworking. Aghdam was an economically and culturally developed city. There were dozens of factories in the city. Agricultural goods from there were popular throughout the USSR. Recreation centres were built. Thousands of people came to these centres every year.”

However, she noted that Agdam does not appear like that today: “The lack of tolerance of Armenians is also noteworthy here. Not only cultural centres, but all civilian infrastructure was destroyed. Remains of stone and iron are left on the site of the houses where we lived. It is very difficult for me to say that.”

But the Azerbaijani internally displaced people are not letting the vast destruction of their beloved city, which was transformed into a ghost town, let them down. They are determined to resurrect the city of Agdam to its former glory so that the Azerbaijani internally displaced people can once again live happy lives there in peace and harmony. Already, the Azerbaijani government has begun to work, so that Agdam can be a splendid city once again.

The words of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan indicate that Aghdam and other liberated lands will soon develop:

“During my visits to Fizuli and Jabrayil, I said that we will restore these lands, these cities, these villages. Armenians believed that the Azerbaijani people would never return to these lands after these devastations. They made a mistake. They do not know that in the heart of the Azerbaijani people – in the heart of our people, the native lands live and will live forever.”

The work to be done to revive and restore Aghdam, the largest region in terms of population among the occupied regions, will play an important role in the comprehensive development of the liberated territories as a whole. Landscaping work has already begun in Agdam. A new road is being built in the region; damaged infrastructure is being restored. In addition, a railway line is being built to ensure the economic development of the city. All this allows Agdam to revive soon.

Rachel Avraham is a political analyst working at the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights.  She is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings at the American, Israeli and Arab Media.”  

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Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

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