On 25 January Baku International Centre of Multiculturalism hosted the roundtable “Holocaust and Khojali in the Eye of the Contemporaries” by the organizational support of the religious communities of the Azerbaijani Mountain Jews and European Jews, the Department of Interethnic Relations, Multiculturalism and Religious Issues of the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
First, a minute of silence was observed to commemorate the victims of Holocaust and Khojali.
Opening the event the Acting Executive Director of Baku International Centre of Multiculturalism stated that Khojali and Holocaust massacres are essentially similar tragedies, though they were committed at different times. In accordance with the Resolution adopted by the UN Assembly General on 1 November 2005, every year the 27 January is marked as the International Day of Remembrance of Holocaust victims. In the night of 25th February turning to 26th February 1992 the inhabitants of Khojali were exposed to the identical brutalities. As a result of this tragedy, 613 people were killed, 8 families were eliminated, 275 people were taken hostages, and there is no information about 150 people. A violent crime was committed with no mercy on anyone irrespective of their being children, women or invalids. As a result of the policy pursued by President Ilham Aliyev, a number of states recognize the tragedy of Khojali as a massacre and the number of such countries increases year by year.
The Acting Executive Director underlined that for centuries the Jews have been living under the conditions of friendship in Azerbaijan. He said that there have never been any inclinations towards anti-Semitism in Azerbaijan, all the ethnic communities dwelling here have established with one another the high-level relations of friendship and fraternity.
The staff member of the Department of Interethnic Relations, Multiculturalism and Religious Issues of the Presidential Administration Ulviyya Abbasova made a speech at the event and stated that the Azerbaijani people, who has historically been the victim of the policy of national-ethnic hostility, ethnic cleansing and massacre, well understands the Jewish people and takes the historical disaster encountered by the Jewish people too close to its heart. In his speech at the Commemoration Ceremony of the Holocaust Victims on 7 January 2015 the Israeli President spoke of the Azerbaijanis murdered in Khojali in February 1992. The tragedy of massacre we have been exposed unites us once more. The victims of Khojali tragedy, which is the bloodiest page of Azerbaijani history, and of the Holocaust are commemorated every year in our country. The Khojali tragedy is the peak of the massacre committed by Armenia against Azerbaijan. In the night of 25 February turning to the 26th within several hours 613 people were murdered, among them there were 106 women and 83 children. Fifty six people were murdered with special brutality. Forgetting the committed tragedies may result in new disasters, that is why, it is necessary to draw some conclusions remembering the suffered tragedies and look at the future.
The Deputy Chair of the State Committee for the Work with the Religious Organizations Gunduz Ismayilov said that if we do not want an ethnic group, people to face such an incident, the criminals of the Khojali massacre must be punished. In the absence of punishment, such kind of tragedy can be carried out against other peoples as well.
Speaking of the Khojali massacre, the Deputy Chairman of the Committee said that as a result of the consistent policy of President Ilham Aliyev in presenting the realities of Azerbaijan to the world community, the number of the countries recognizing the Khojali massacre is increasing. Also, the campaign “Justice to Khojali!” initiated by the Vice-President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation Leyla Aliyeva in 2008 is a farsighted successful strategy in the realization of this political course, especially in the presentation of the realities of Garabagh to the world.
G.Ismayilov said that the Jews have been exposed to massacre not only in Europe, they were also among the victims of massacre committed against the Azerbaijani people. The Jews have been settled in Azerbaijan for 2600 years and are living under the conditions of peace, friendship and mutual respect.
The Editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Yeni Azerbaijan”, the member of the Milli Majlis Hikmat Babaoghlu said that the Jewish and Azerbaijani peoples are united by great tragedies and acts of heroism. By essence, the tragedies of Holocaust and Khojali are identical. The number of the Holocaust victims is 6 million, out of which 1.5 million are children. Like the Khojali massacre, Holocaust is the crime committed against humanity. The Jewish and Azerbaijani peoples well understand and realize each other’s tragedies. In 1918 the members of the Jewish community in Guba were also exposed to the massacre by the Armenians. We should not forget the cases of bloody massacres committed against humanity by the Armenian hangmen, and we should take consistent actions for the recognition of the massacre internationally as well as for the objective appraisal of this massacre.
Further the leader of the Mountain Jews Community in Azerbaijan Milikh Yevdayev, the representatives of the European Jews Religious Community Lev Svarts, Yevgeni Brenneysen, the Director of the Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan Ilham Mammadzadeh, the scientific fellow of the Institute of Law and Human Rights of the Academy Moisey Bekker, the Khojali citizens Murad Maharramov and Khalil Valiyev spoke and appraised the commemoration of the Holocaust tragedy in Azerbaijan as a noteworthy event and evaluated it as an indicator of the multicultural and tolerant mood in our country. It was emphasized that the horrible tragedy inflicted on the Jewish people is treated sensitively in our country and every year the victims of Holocaust are commemorated. It was stated that the reason for the murder of these peaceful people was the hatred towards the Jews, which reached an extreme in the period of fascism, as well as fascist racism.
The speakers pointed out that the inclinations towards anti-Semitism are still lingering in some countries of Europe and in those countries even the hint on Holocaust is forbidden. The policy of multiculturalism as the leading line in Azerbaijan and free and friendly co-existence of the Jews along with the other ethnic groups here are cited as an example to other countries.
Following the speeches, the roundtable was continued in discussions.