“It was like Golgotha…” Baroness Caroline Cox said after witnessing the atrocities committed by the Azeri armed forces in Maragha on 10 April 1992.
April 10 marks the 26th anniversary of the Armenian massacres in the Artsakh village of Maragha by the Azerbaijani authorities.
On April 10, 1992, after a 3-hour artillery preparation, the subunits of the Azerbaijani regular army invaded the peaceful village of Maragha from the Azerbaijani Mir-Bashir (currently Tartar). The attack was not dictated by military necessity. Over 100 people became victims of the aggression – mainly women, children, and old people. Civilians were killed by the most cruel ways: they were partitioned, burnt alive, beheaded, thrown under tanks, or cut with axes. About 50 people were taken hostages, including 9 children. While in captivity, many Maragha residents were tortured, humiliated, and were a subject to an inhuman treatment. Many of them were later exchanged, but the fate of many is still unknown. In about two weeks, on April 22-23, Maraghawas again attacked, people, who had returned to the site of fire, had to leave the native town forever.
Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, Larisa Alaverdyan, Head of the Foundation against Violation of Law NGO, stressed the Maragha massacre had one essential difference from the genocidal actions committed by Azerbaijan in Baku, Sumgait, Gandzak and in over 300 other settlements in Artsakh – they were planned and committed by newly independent Azerbaijan.
Maragha was a big village with a population up to 5,000 people. According to Alaverdyan, who is also Armenia’s ex-ombudsman, it was a very developed and rich village, which did not see military operations, but the resident villagers were involved in the operations in the neighbouring communities, like in Talish or Mataghis, feeling the imminent threat to themselves.
Before the Azerbaijani attack against the village in April 1992, almost all the inhabitants of Maragha had been evacuated; only some 110 people – mostly women, children, and elderly – did not manage to flee the village due to some objective reasons.
“Azerbaijanis clearly noticed it, understanding that young women having sick and helpless kids could have remained in the village, and planned it [the massacres]. This was a genocidal plan targeting the civilians,” Alaverdyan said.
She added the Foundation against Violation of Law NGO was the first one to document the events upon receiving the news on the atrocities from Artsakh on April 10, with the Russian and foreign radio stations reporting on the incident on April 11.
“It was not accidental that Baroness Caroline Cox visited the village after two-three days. The people in Maragha were massacred since they were Armenians, helpless without any chance of resistance; the slaughter was planned in this context,” she stressed.
In 1996 the Foundation against Violation of Law NGO managed to prepare a comprehensive reference on the events in Maragha and presented it to the Artsakh authorities, who submitted the document to the UN Commission on Human Rights and other international organizations for several times.
“Unfortunately it was not followed by any developments by the state or some kind of response. We kept on looking for people who were taken hostages,” she said, stressing the people of the village were killed by most brutal ways. “People were sawed off, with the eye witnesses of the atrocities going mad afterwards,” she added.
Alaverdyan noted the fate of 19 hostages still remain unknown.
“This was committed by modern Azerbaijan, which at least bears the responsibility to tell us what happened to those people. We once again made a decision to prepare a package of legal documents to submit them to international organizations,” she added, calling on the state structures and business community representatives to organize those works, stressing the need to involve experienced foreign experts in drawing up the documents.