As we mark the 20th anniversary of the tragedy in Khojaly, Azerbaijan is working to have the massacre recognized as an act of genocide. As someone who highlighted events in Karabakh, you are familiar with what happened two decades ago. What can you say about it?
Certainly, I am well aware of all these events. My colleagues and I noted at that time that is was genocide. You know that women and children were killed there at short range, an astonishing fact that speaks for itself. Doctors who examined the bodies found the signs of desperate resistance, but nonetheless these civilians from Khojaly were brutally killed. Certainly, the events in Khojaly are genocide against Azerbaijanis.
What should be done to raise international awareness of these events, so that they have an appropriate political and legal assessment and are recognized as genocide?
I think that this is the work of the Azerbaijani authorities, of the country's embassies abroad. And not only this. This work must start with nongovernmental organizations, with young people and rise through the government structures. Work is already under way on this. Relevant events are held in Lithuania too. I personally took part in an event on this issue in the Seimas…
When did it happen?
Last year. The members of our Seimas were shocked when they heard what happened in Khojaly. Most of them were hearing about it for the first time thanks to Azerbaijani diplomacy, to Azerbaijan itself, which organizes such meetings in foreign parliaments.
Such events are of great importance. It is through direct contacts with people, not only though the press, that it is possible to explain to people, for them to understand. Certainly, it is important that there are witnesses to the tragedy. I think it would be good if the memories of people who escaped from Khojaly were actively used.
Overall, much remains to be done in this sphere, especially, as you know, Armenians are trying to present two invented versions of the events in Khojaly: first, that they allegedly left a corridor for refugees and that Azerbaijanis near Agdam killed the Khojaly residents. But in fact this is not true and you know it better than I do. There is a great deal of evidence, including from journalists and Khojaly residents who managed to escape. The testimonies of live witnesses are very important. Not only political decisions but also what the witnesses say are very important here. More meetings should be arranged to inform politicians about what happened so that the perpetrators are held accountable. This injustice cannot go on forever.
The parliaments of Mexico and Pakistan rated the events as genocide in recent resolutions. Will the parliaments of other countries pass similar resolutions?
Certainly, there are grounds for this, though the Armenian lobby is not sleeping and events in France show that they are doing everything possible to distort history. Turning to our question, I think that this can happen in future. Probably, as a result of a chain reaction, politicians in the superpowers will finally find the courage to admit the truth. But certainly much is still to be done on this.
I am flying to Moscow on Monday to attend the presentation of a film about Khojaly and I will also make a statement there. We have been making the film for a year on the basis of meetings with those who were in captivity. We wanted to show in detail what happened, to show whether Armenians were telling the truth when they said that before the attack, the Khojaly residents were given three to four days to leave the town via a safe corridor created for them. We looked for people, journalists, Khojaly residents who escaped and anyone who could tell us about the events. And the film which we made disproved almost all the Armenian versions of developments.
And now on Monday I am flying to Moscow to speak again about those events and to fight for the truth.
Who made the film?
An international group of journalists. You probably heard that these guys were planning to go to Khojaly from the Armenian side to shoot what is going on there now, but they were detained in Yerevan, banned from filming and deported.
The main producers of the film are Lithuanians. They are young guys and we are thankful to them for their work. I have to note that before this they did not even know where Azerbaijan is and what's going on there. And now we even have a film to be shown not only in Moscow but also in London, and probably even in Cannes and Venice.
What is the language of the film?
It is in Russian.
Are you planning to translate the film into other languages?
Yes, certainly. I think the film will soon premier at the Heydar Aliyev Palace in Baku. Over 4,000 tickets for this film have already been sold.