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Azerbaijani Art and Culture Center Commemorates 31st Anniversary Of The Khojaly Genocide

“Voices of History” event held at University of Toronto

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The “Voices of History” gathering at the University of Toronto began with a minute of silence in memory of the Khojaly victims. (Photo: Nork Photography/Supplied) 

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On February 26, 2023, the Azerbaijani community of Toronto gathered in the event “Voices of History” dedicated to the 31st anniversary of the Khojaly Genocide. The event was organized by the Azerbaijani Art and Culture Center headed by L. Həsənova, which was established in 2015. More than 200 representatives of different communities took part in the event.

Members of the provincial government and legislative, diplomatic corps, in particular the Consuls General of Turkey and Ukraine, as well as other officials attended the gathering at the University of Toronto. The event began with a minute of silence in memory of the Khojaly victims followed by speeches. Afterwards a quartet of musicians from Canada performed the works of popular Azerbaijani composers. 

The speakers expressed their support to all suffered from the Armenian atrocities and underscored the need for the prevention of such human tragedies in future. S. Abbasova, the representative of the State Committee on Work with Diaspora of the Republic of Azerbaijan made a statement.  

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During the mass slaughter committed by the Armenian military forces against the population of Khojaly in the night from 25th to 26th of February 1992, 613 civilians including 63 children, 106 women, 70 elderlies were killed, 8 families were totally murdered, 1275 residents were taken hostage. This bloody act of unprecedented cruelty violated not only the norms of international law and international humanitarian law, in particular the Geneva Convention and the UN Declaration of Human Rights, but it was absolutely incompatible with elementary human morality and dignity.

In its judgement of 2010, the European Court of Human Rights qualified the crime in Khojaly as “acts of special gravity that may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity.”

The national legislative bodies of 18 countries, as well as 24 States of the USA, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Organization of Turkic States have adopted decisions condemning the massacre of civilians in Khojaly and characterizing it as a crime against humanity and an act of genocide.

The event highlighted the importance of efforts to be taken by the international community to provide a lasting peace and security. Even though 31 years have passed, failure to prosecute perpetrators causes great anxiety. The Canadians of the Azerbaijani origin strongly believe that Canada would contribute to justice for Khojaly.  

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The Khojaly tragedy made the people of Azerbaijan stronger and more determined. The Republic of Azerbaijan Republic, guided by the article 51 of Charter of the United Nations during the 44 days war liberated territories that had been under the Armenian occupation for more than 30 years. The joint statement of the leaders of Azerbaijan, Russia and Armenia dated November 10, 2020, opens up new prospects for regional cooperation and development through the normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan proposed five principles for the signing of a peace treaty with Armenia. In words, they accepted them, but we do not see it in practice – stated I. Aliyev, president of Azerbaijan. The Armenian armed forces haven’t withdrawn from Karabakh yet as required by the trilateral statement of 2020, Moreover, they try to deliver arms and ammunitions.

Armenia was supposed to provide a corridor that would ensure a connection between the main part of Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, but they have been refusing. As for Armenian residents of Karabakh, President Aliyev clearly stated that they are Azerbaijani citizens and will enjoy all the rights provided by the Constitution. Azerbaijan is well known for tolerance and human respect irrespective of religious, ethnic, and other affiliation.

The Azerbaijani community of Toronto gathered in the event “Voices of History” dedicated to the 31st anniversary of the Khojaly Genocide. (Photo: Nork Photography/Supplied) 

It is this tolerance and respect that is appreciated and cherished by Azerbaijani Jews who are equal citizens of Azerbaijan. Jews suffered from the horrors of Holocaust and are familiar with the racial segregation and pains of those who lost their loved ones as a result of the genocide carried out in Khojaly. Azerbaijan is proud of its Jewish citizens who fought for Karabakh. One of them, A. Agarunov, was awarded the title of Hero of Azerbaijan.

It comes as no surprise that Azerbaijani-Israeli relations are based on respect and mutual interest. The State of Israel recognized the independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan on December 25, 1991. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established on the April 7, 1992. The Israeli embassy has been active in Azerbaijan since August 1993. President I. Aliyev attaches great significance to the relations between the two countries. He has held several meetings with the leaders of Israel.

A quartet of musicians from Canada performed the works of popular Azerbaijani composers at the “Voices of History” event in Toronto. (Photo: Nork Photography/Supplied) 

In the year of celebrating the 30th anniversary of the diplomatic relations with Israel, the Republic of Azerbaijan in November 2022 decided to open an embassy in Israel. In Tel Aviv, Azerbaijan already has a Tourism Office and a Trade Representative Office. The opening of an embassy will give a big impetus to bilateral relations to expand them from the public sector to business and cultural sectors.

Diaspora plays an important role in this regard by advancing humanitarian and cultural relations between the peoples and countries. The meeting held in the synagogue the following day of the commemoration with the Azerbaijani Jews living in Toronto was a vivid example. The hosts shared their warm memories about the communities they lived in and Azerbaijan as a whole. They still maintain the ties and often travel to Azerbaijan. It was concluded that the Azerbaijani Art and Culture Center would serve as an appropriate framework for the diaspora activities in Canada. 

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

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.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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