This film is an accusation. Accusation of a Genocide committed on April 10, 1992 in the village of Maragha in Nagorno-Karabakh. The Vice-Speaker oAvakyanf the House of Lords of the United Kingdom, Baroness Caroline Cox, who arrived in the village two days after the tragedy, named Maragha the contemporary Golgotha many times over.
This is Nor Maragha – New Maragha, where nearly 60 families of former village residents now live – those who managed to survive on the day of the modern Golgotha and stayed to live in Karabakh. Maragha was a bordering village, one of the biggest and flourishing villages of the region of Martakert, where the vineyards used to grow so lushly…
And close to it an oil derrick was standing, and an oil pipeline passed nearby… The regional center, oil-bearing Mir Bashir, was located very close to Maragha. But no one could ever imagine that this dangerous neighborhood would become so fateful and deadly for the village.
Maragha was set up in the area of an ancient Armenian settlement, and in the first half of the 19th century, Armenian migrants from Persia were resettled here. According to the census of 1989, nearly 6,500 people lived in Maragha, including a few Armenian families who escaped pogroms but were forcefully deported from Sumgait, Baku and other areas of Soviet Azerbaijan.
They used to take this road often in their former life. They would reach the fork in the road and turn right – home, to Maragha. Presently, they cannot turn right because their home village has been captured and is now located on the other side of the border between the present and the past. And they only can take a remote look at Maragha.
By the spring of 1992, the military aggression of Azerbaijan against blockaded Nagorno Karabakh was at its peak. With the collapse of the USSR, the newly established army of Azerbaijan, Azeri bandit units, and units of the People’s Front of Azerbaijan received the lion’s share of military equipment from the local units of the Soviet Army headquartered in Azerbaijan. At the same time, the systematic disarmament of the Armenians of Karabakh and even the militia continued.
Karabakh was living through a real humanitarian disaster. Blockade, power shortages, lack of gas, water; an acute deficit of food, widespread epidemics and diseases; artillery bombardments and hundreds of casualties. Dozens of thousands of refugees from Armenian villages, raided during the Ring operation; and hundreds of hostages. Lack of communication with the outside world, war – this is what Karabakh was in 1991-1992. However, for the peaceful residents of Maragha and other villages in Karabakh, it began much sooner – in 1988, right after the Sumgait massacres.
All the villages of Karabakh located close to Azeri villages were systematically raided by bandits. Unpunished murders and the kidnapping of civilians, hostage taking, torture and humiliation, the stealing of property and animals, arsons and pogroms. Politics of state terror by official Baku, uncovered sponsorship of the criminals by officials in the Kremlin and specifically Mikhail Gorbachev… Silence of the international community… But nothing could make the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh leave their homes. The continued their life and work – and took up weapons to protect their right to live on their native land. In the summer of 1994, the state secretary of Azerbaijan Lala Shovket Gajieva stated: “Over a hundred days we were bombing Stepanakert day and night from various points, but the Armenians did not leave their houses”.
On the night of February 26, 1992, Maragha was raided in a very different way, unlike the other villages, in a campaign famous for its level of organization and scope.
The testimonies of residents of Maragha leave no space for doubt: crimes committed in Maragha on April 10 had been planned as early as February 26.
Another of Azerbaijan’s crime was committed on the same night of February 26, 1992, near Aghdam, this time against Azeris who left Khojalu via the humanitarian corridor left open for them by the Armenians. There is a direct link between those two crimes.
One of the biggest military bases and firing points of Azeri army were located in Khojalu, just like the only airport in Karabakh. Destroying the firing point and the breaking of the air blockade was a vital necessity for bleeding Karabakh. The Azeri side was perfectly aware of both the planned operation of the Self-Defense Forces of NKR and the existence of the humanitarian corridor for the safe exodus of the many civilians who stayed in the zone of military activities. The residents of Khojalu were cynically executed near Aghdam by their own compatriots. Azeri politicians committed a dual crime with a single strategic goal: the discrediting of the image and reputation of the Armenians that had been formed in centuries as of one of the bearers of world civilization, and the dissemination of Armenia-phobia not only in their country and the region, but in the whole world.
Having failed on February 26, the Azeri authorities began intensive preparations for the second attack. Maragha was defended by a small unit of volunteer fighters recruited from local civilians. The modern Golgotha happened in the early morning of April 10, 1992.
Maragha was doomed. Maragha was doomed to a slaughter due to two factors – aggressive Armenophobia and oil interests. It was these two factors that played the key role in the establishment and development of Azerbaijani statehood since its inception in 1918. In April 1992, the population of Armenian village of Maragha was sacrificed to the interests of global interests of fuel and energy resources only because the village was located on the oil-bearing area, where the valuable hydrocarbons were being extracted – the so-called white oil.
This is what the member of the presidium of the Supreme Council of Nagorno Karabakh in 1992-1995, Valerij Kazaryan, wrote in his article: “The issue and the conflict stopped being local when it became impermissible to let the Armenians gain control over the oil-bearing Mir Bashir” (Aniv magazine, N2, 2010).
The bloody orgy of Azeri soldiers in Maragha lasted for several hours. By midnight the village was liberated. The defenders of the village and the few civilian survivors observed the hell on the earth. The next day the bodies of the dead were committed to the earth.
Few tragedies in the history of humanity would match the crucifixion of Maragha. The hatred and spite, accumulated after genocide in Sumgait and Baku, the heroic resistance of Armenians, unwilling to leave their native land, the aspiration to end the Armenians quickly and seize their territories played out in Maragha into a bacchanalia of unthinkable torture, murder, and the humiliation of human and national dignity. In mercy to the audience, even today, 18 years later, we will not display the cases of most violent reprisals of the barbarians against the unprotected elderly, women and children. But even those crimes told by the witnesses shatter the mind and imagination of a normal person.
Spouses Razmik and Sveta Movsisyan. Their fate makes any normal person shudder from cold-freezing cruelty and inhumanity. The husband and wife were taken hostage, they got to the deputy head of prison in Mir Bashir, who kept them tethered like dogs, and made them walk on all fours. They were starving, and then Sveta was killed; the murderers who had lost human face tried to feed her husband on the flesh of her dead body.
The Poghosyans family had to endure inhuman suffering. Sisters Zarine and Karine with their kids were taken hostages. Their husbands are considered lost until today.
Alvina Baghdasaryan, a teacher who was tied to a chair and exposed to inhuman tortures and humiliation, then she was burnt alive.
Maragha of April 10 1992 is a history of families who were either fully exterminated or taken hostages. Manja Aghajanyan was taken hostage together with her three sons, only one of them returned. He told about the death of his brother Gagik (Aram).
The members of Aghajanyan family were taken hostages and brutally killed.
Sisters Uljana and Liana Barseghyan, 6 and 8 years old, were separated from their parents and kept hostage for over two years.
On April 10, Genocide was committed in the village of Maragha of the Martakert region of Nagorno-Karabakh. People were killed merely for being Armenians. Those who were not killed were taken hostage, many – with families, with little children. That tragic day of contemporary Golgotha in Maragha 50 out of 118 remaining residents of the village were killed, over 60 taken hostages. For them, only torture and humiliation lay ahead, as well as the hell of the unawareness of relatives’ fate. Those who later managed to return were in an inadequate state of mind and lived for no longer than 1-2 years. According to the witnesses, every tenth man in the Azeri units was armed with not only a gun but also a yataghan – the main weapon of Turkish butchers during the Genocide of Armenians in the beginning of the 20th century.
Maragha proved that Baku is doing its utmost to enlarge the myth about religious rationale of Armenian-Azeri confrontation. Unable to have faith in the true meaning of the word, the Azeri authorities attempted to convey to the bloody slaughtering nature of a religious confrontation.
Crosses were burnt and cut on the bodies of dead and alive Armenians, to prove that it was them, the Azeris, on the frontline of fighting against gjaours. In reality, the intention to unite the Islamic world around their crimes is behind all this. Azeri authorities are trying to spread the call voiced in Sumgait – “Death to Armenians” – all over the Islamic world and, having received its support, proceed with the Turkish policy of Genocide of Armenians.
Maragha is another crime against humanity committed by Azerbaijan and left undisclosed, uncondemned and unpunished.
Maragha is another crime against humanity committed by Azerbaijan and left unknown, unpunished and uncondemned. All the attempts by Baroness Caroline Cox and the organization International Christian Solidarity to attract the attention of international community and the press to the genocide in Maragha faced cynical solidarity among oil interests. This approach used to and still stimulates Azerbaijan to continue the politics of aggressive Armenia-phobia. Azeris posted a video spot on one of popular web-sites in the Internet, showing footage of the wild orgy of the butchers in Maragha on April 10, 1992. And the barbarians who committed Genocide against elderly people, women and children, were awarded by the authorities of Azerbaijan. Promoting the executors to the rank of national heroes became a tradition in contemporary Azerbaijan, where murder of an Armenian in the shadow of a night is considered a heroic deed, and extermination of cultural heritage of Armenian nation is state policy.
Nor Maragha is just another village in Karabakh, like dozens of others. This is where many former residents of Maragha, who lost their motherland, began a new life. Many of them for 18 years now do not have any information about relatives and co-villagers, who were captured as hostages and prisoners of war. The memory of the day when Maragha was crucified with hatred on Golgotha is immortalized in this modest monument. This is where the flowers are put to the memory of victims of April 10 1992, whose graves remained there, in the old Maragha. This movie is a tribute to dozens of tortured and slaughtered, and to those civilians who remained hostages or prisoners of war for good.
Crimes like the crucifixion of Maragha do not have any limitation period. This documentary is a call to the international community, a reminder that the impunity of crimes against humanity brings forth their recurrence. The Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh have won their freedom with their blood; they paid with thousands of lives for the right to build their own independent state. Maragha is the most convincing proof that the only value for Azerbaijan is oil, and its only religion is Armenia-phobia. This is what the politicians, insisting on the forceful inclusion of Artsakh into Azerbaijan, to which it does not belong, have to keep in mind, just like the oil corporations, turning a blind eye to Azerbaijan’s crimes in the name of profit at any cost.
Maragha is still expecting a legal and political estimation. The “Nuremberg” for Maragha is still ahead.
– There was an oil derrick. There was a small park behind it, where two howitzers were placed. We went there and saw it during an intelligence action. Those were active howitzers, and they were used to protect the derrick from a potential threat.
– Where was the derrick?
– Mir Bashir started right on our border, a distance of one car divides the border. Right where the road ends, the derrick is placed.
Motherland remains a motherland. All this is a product of the work of my own hands. But if somebody tells me the area has been liberated and there is an opportunity to return, I will do so immediately. Because first of all the graves of our ancestors are there. And I have lived there for 40 years, and each night I am still there in my dreams. If the area is liberated I will go back there just the next day, to start everything from the scratch; no matter how hard it will be – that is my land.
After “sumgait” a number of incidents were happening. They were stealing animals from the fields or they would stop our drivers and took our cars away. We were stressed all the time.
The first shelling happened in January 1992, after which all of us went down to live in the basement, to hide from the bombing. We built barricades using bags with sand so the bullets did not reach us, and built underground shelters. We would hear that a farm had been attacked, next time – wine-makers; the incidents would happen permanently. The first victim occurred in autumn of 1991, when a tractor-driver got killed behind his wheel during the autumn sowing.
On February 25 shelling began, linked to Khojalu events. I was sitting in the headquarters of the defending unit. I was looking at the clock: in a minute 4-6 shells were fired onto the village, and it would continue until morning. In the dawn of February 26 the village was attacked. That day, we counter-attacked gloriously. They lost over three dozens of people and escaped.
Before dawn, the village had been shelled. At first, they used Alazan, which were used in the Soviet times against hail; then they used tanks. The civilians escaped in panic towards the villages up the hill, in a mess,carrying their children, using all kinds of vehicles and equipment. Up until the next village, 3-4 km away, there was not enough space for an apple to fall; people were walking, as the vehicles were mainly used by the soldiers who were in the frontline protecting the village. The others took the children and women and were leaving the village to escape from bombardment.
We were at home on April 10. We stuffed the bags with sand and blocked the ground floors. All the women of the area, young and old, gathered at our yard. At 5 a.m. the Turks were bombarding Maragha. My husband and my sons went out to defend the village. During the fight a bullet went through my husband’s left cheek and then through the right cheek, but he bandaged himself and continued fighting. This is where he died. There were people who stayed in the barracks and never managed to escape. Those, who knew – escaped, those who did not – no. They came and took them hostages – children and women. Some children were beaten and killed, burnt alive, some were taken prisoners. Young women and girls faced all kinds of things while in imprisonment; the bodies of exchanged women were covered with wounds and had burns on them.
Not a single village in Karabakh ever suffered like Maragha. Nowhere the children and women have been tortured so much and killed, as it happened in Maragha. Nobody had to live through what villagers in Maragha did. The houses were set on fire, little children – taken prisoners, elderly – burned alive. They saw off a man’s head and hung it in the village center.
After all this, how can you put up with it, you cannot put up with it. No matter who says what, they are blood-thirsty, you cannot put up with them. I am a parent, I have lost my husband and my son, many of the families here have seen their young children gone – either dead or lost, and nobody can put up with this.
I was in the village on April 10. My husband was on duty at the border. At 10 in the morning he came in and told us to prepare to leave, because they were not able to defend the village any more and were retreating, as the Turks would enter the village. Myself, my father-in-law and sister-in-law with our children walked on towards the village of Maghavus.
Around noon they started to come up from the first line. First the tanks rolled in, then – the bandits. They came in from different sides. In the first place, they started to set the houses on fire. All the people they met, either civilians or military, who took up the weapons to protect from them, were killed or captured as prisoners. During the artillery fire many people buried shelters in their gardens and were hiding there. I cannot say the exact number but all the people who were hiding in those shelters – men, women, and children – all were taken away by the Turks.
Those civilians who stayed in the village were the elderly, women and children, or families. Naturally, there were no soldiers left. If the parents stayed, then 2-3-4 children stayed as well. If the parents were killed, the children were killed as well. There was a case when the body of a killed baby was put on the chest of his killed mother.
We had to retreat. The guys fighting in the direction of the first and second defending lines were stepping back, but they were holding the line behind. Anyway, we retreated up to the village of Margushavan. At this sage they already were in the village, and we saw right in front of our eyes how the village is burning. The people’s noise could be heard. Naturally those who did not manage to escape were caught by them. Before that I called for help, since 16 units of armored vehicles were approaching. And we did not have anti-tank weapon. The machine-guns could not stop the tanks. The same day there were 3 more attacks, but without tanks, and we easily fought them back. Imagine: the enemy’s vehicles moved away in 1 hour. Later it turned out those were the tanks of the 4th Soviet Army, headquartered in Kirovabad. For sure it was cooked by a corrupt Soviet general, as at that time neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan had tanks.
In the morning, at 11 a.m. we started collecting dead bodies. One’s neck was cut, the other body charred, and it was obvious from the body that the person had been burned alive. The people were gathered in the building of the club and set on fire there. They did all kinds of things you could imagine… A had a friend of my age; they sawed off his head. There were witnesses hiding who said that while sawing off his head they would yell “you were the water manager here and did not provide us with water”. Those were worse than Hitler.
We came in and saw the village entirely on fire, plundered, people massacred, dead bodies in the streets, decapitated– the body here and the head there, burned alive, thrown under a tank. They killed a mother with a baby. First, they killed the mother, cut her head off, the boy tried to escape towards the club, but they caught him there and killed. The elderly did not find mercy either; one of them was thrown under a tank. He was a man with a stick, feeble and half-blind.
They entered the village and despite there was nobody in the house, only because that was an Armenian’s house, land of an Armenian, they treated even the house with such brutality that one cannot even imagine this. If an animal used to be kept by an Armenian, if a dog used to belong to an Armenian, those were treated with such brutality that one cannot even imagine. An elderly person from our district, named Mushegh, was tied behind a tank; they dragged him for 2-3 km. We are Christians, Armenians – and that is it, we have to be exterminated.
When the dawn broke we went out to take a look at what was going on. We moved around and saw that a number of houses were burned, many dead bodies were scattered around the streets and in the homes. There was a sick woman whose son was in the defending unit, and since we had retreated he could not come and pick up his mother and take her out of the village. That woman was killed right in her own house. Some were slaughtered, some – killed. In short, we started picking up the dead bodies. We brought cars and coffins, dug holes in the areas of Maragha and Margushavan and committed the dead bodies to the earth.
When we came up to Maragha we saw blood streaming in the river. Nothing was left of Maragha, not even a trace. Houses were burned, looted; nothing was there, people were slaughtered.
And for what? Why would I give anything to them? I will not give, no matter what happens. Even if they come and shoot me to death right now. We will not give away our lands. If they start a war, I will take out my gun and go to fight. But we will not surrender our land. They made a huge problem of their lousy Khojalu, but it was them who massacred Armenians in Sumgait, Baku, and what – those were not humans? And in the end they came to massacre all the villagers of Maragha, destroyed Karabakh and moved out.
On April 10, 1992 my daughter was taken away with her children and mother-in-law. On April 17 my husband went for exchange. On the way back, they exploded on a mine, and all of them were wounded – my husband, my daughter and her children. We brought them to the hospital of Martakert. My daughter had to undergo a serious operation, and her left foot was cut off. Still, she died next day because of a wound in the abdomen. Before the operation she asked me “mom, what was that explosion?” and I answered it was a mine, and she said “daddy came up to bring us home, and how are the kids?” and I told her the kids are fine.
One of the kids, 2 years old, had a wound in the back, the other, 4 years old, had a broken leg. During the operation my daughter asked me to bring the kids to her; we did, she saw them. My daughter was tortured severely, her kids do not now this until now; but I saw her breast covered with cigarette burns, she had two knife wounds on her neck, ear-lobes were ripped off. Nobody knows this except me, I asked her where her ear-rings were and she told me they ripped them off together with the ear-lobes.
My son was 3 years old at that time; my daughter was 1 year 4 months old. They were taken away from me. I was yelling like a crazy when they were taking the kids away from me, and I do not remember the details. They took us out of the village – on foot, dragging us behind them. I recall seeing some slaughtered people; I recognized them as those were from the village. I saw some dead people. We exchanged my son but could not find my daughter. After exchanging me we gave the photo and other details of my daughter, and they informed us the kid was in the orphanage. Then it took us a lot of time and pain to prove, in 19 months, that the baby was mine. We exchanged him on October 21, 1993. She was already 3 years old. My daughter did not approach me; naturally she did not recognize me. She was holding the nurse’s hand and did not want to let her go. And the nurse was blaming me, saying I abandoned my child – as if she thought it was me who had brought the kid to the orphanage. I was not feeling anything then; my only thought was just a few minutes later I will take my baby and go away, so I was not responding anything to her. But the baby was not approaching me, was sticking to the nurse, she even cried when the nurse left. Later on she gradually got accustomed to me. She was scared; when she would see a soldier or a car, she would start crying.
Three brothers were taken prisoners with their mother. One of the brothers was taken hostage, but until now we have no idea where the others are. The survivor told about his brother’s death and inhuman attitude towards him. They treated him like a beast. They were taken to Mir Bashir, then to Barda, from where we exchanged one of the brothers, returning one of hostages for him. He said his brother was not scared and responded to insulting from Azeris. He was brutally killed there. They tied him on a railway, and a train passed over him.
There were many people from our village that were taken prisoners. They were from all the corners of the village. I could see how they were dragging my father-in-law and our elderly neighbour behind them. They took us to the centre of the village, I last saw them there. Then I heard shots, I turned around but did not see them, and I do not know whether they were killed or not. I remember there was a house with a basement at the ground level. They were thrown into the thorns and weed, and I heard the words “we will shoot you. In this house your sons are hiding, call them to come out”. They were saying nothing more. Then they pushed me and took away, and I heard a shot. I turned around and saw them fallen in the street. But later on, when our people entered the village their dead bodies were not found. It is not known whether they were killed or taken away. There is no information about my father-in-law until now.
After we were taken away, the same night and next day, they gathered us all in the same place. They kept the weapon aimed at us and saying all the time that they will slaughter us. My only thought at that time was to be killed fast, so I do not have time to feel anything. I was even thinking to grab a weapon and kill myself, so I could put an end to everything.
The next day we were told that funeral of some guys who had been killed before was to take place that day, and we shall be slaughtered at their graves. We were not taken there; maybe they took men, I do not know. Some people came to take a young girl from the hostages, the told us – for exchange. But I never saw anyone from those who were thee with me. They were not exchanged, they never returned. I do not know what happened to them – they might have been executed, or killed at those graves. There were women, children, young boys, none of them was exchanged. They took ten children from our village, and all ten of them were exchanged later at various times, even years later. My sister’s mother-in-law was exchanged 2 years and 4 months later; she also was taken captive from Maragha.
I have talked to their sister-in-law; she said they had beaten her a lot, tortured her, kept hungry, sold to one another, forced her to work on their land, and raped her. After the exchange that girl did not want to live, she was hardly able come back to life.
The fate of more than half of the hostages is unclear until now. One of them was telling that they were being beaten a few times a day. She said “This is not something to tell, hw cam I tell you what they were doing? I am a woman I cannot tell you how they were treating me, it is a shame for me to voice these words in your presence”. There was a hostage whom we exchanged, Rita Mnatsakanyan, she had traces of cigarettes extinguished all over her body. Most of those who were exchanged are not alive any more. They lived very short, 5 years, 1 year.
Those beasts were not just killing by firing with their guns; they were stabbing the dead bodies with knives, that’s the pain. They were slaughtering both the dead and alive. The screaming that I could hear came from 100 meters away. Well, if you slaughter a person, of course you will hear the screaming at this distance. Then we liberated the village and observed the situation. There was a tea-house in the village, with many dead bodies behind, all of them stabbed, slaughtered and piled one on another. When we took a closer look at the bodies we saw they were not even properly fired at, at least they could have shot them. All of those people had been slaughtered; one of them had neck cut, another one – breast burned, cross-like cuts on the forehead, on the chest.
There was an interesting fact. We were watching how their back rows were moving forward. From 150-200 meters it was clearly seen that at least one out of ten had a sword in the hands. I ordered the guys immediately to fire in the first place those who had swords in their hands. If they do not have time to shoot others, no problem – the important thing was to shoot those with swords. Then it became known that in other directions the picture was the same. I was told that the sons of the bitches had a sword one out of ten. Those are the bustards that, if they catch you dead, alive or wounded, will do their black deed. It is them who mark crosses, cut necks; that is their job.
Collapse of the Soviet Union was a big chance for them to repeat the genocide. Our people were not ready and were not expecting this is possible in the contemporary world, as 100 years ago the world was different, and now there is democracy. Nobody could imagine such brutality is possible.
You read history and you see that same things are repeating, and the handwriting is just the same, no changes. See, we live in the 21st century, but their army is still holding a sword in their hands. You do not need a sword in present wars, but they hold swords especially to slaughter the giaours, and they name the Armenians “giaours”. That is to say, killing is not enough, they have to slaughter. Their handwriting does not change.
Prepared with the assistance of the Public Relations and Information Center of the Office of the President of Armenia, Yerevan.
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