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Iranian Official Says Occupants of Azerbaijani City Should Be Trialed

By Orkhan Jalilov July 24, 2021

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The picture shows the Iranian Supreme Leader's representative in Azerbaijan, Ali Akbar Ojaqnejad, talking to reporters after Eid al-Adha holiday prayers in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku on July 21. / APA

The Iranian Supreme Leader's representative in Azerbaijan, Ali Akbar Ojagnejad has said that he wants to see "the judgment of the occupants" of the city of Shusha.

"I was very worried after seeing Shusha. Such a city is blown up, destroyed, occupied. I asked God to show us the judgment of the occupants," Ojagnejad said after Eid al-Adha holiday prayers in the Azerbaijani capital Baku on July 21.

Ojagnejad visited Shusha on July 10-11 as part of a trip of leaders of Azerbaijan's religious denominations to the city.

Armenia occupied Shusha on May 8, 1992 during the first war in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan in 1991-1994 and pursued a policy of destroying the historical and cultural heritage of Azerbaijanis in the city. Armenia's forces held this strategic city under their control for 28 years, but Azerbaijan reclaimed it during the Second Karabakh War on November 8, 2020.

Shusha is a key city in the Karabakh region due to its geographical location and historical significance as one of the major cultural, economic and administrative centers of Azerbaijan.

On May 7, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev signed an order declaring Shusha as Azerbaijan’s cultural capital in order to restore the city's historical appearance, bring its former glory, reunite it with the traditionally rich cultural life, and promote it in the international arena as a pearl of centuries-old rich culture, architecture and urban planning of Azerbaijan.

Armenia and Azerbaijan were locked into a decades-old conflict over the Karabakh (Garabagh) region, which is an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan. Following the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991, Armenia launched a military campaign against Azerbaijan that lasted until a ceasefire deal was reached in 1994. As a result of the war, Armenia occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories. Over 30,000 ethnic Azerbaijanis were killed and one million were expelled from those lands in a brutal ethnic cleansing policy carried out by Armenia.

On September 27, 2020, the decades-old conflict between the two countries spiraled after Armenia’s forces deployed in the occupied Azerbaijani lands shelled military positions and civilian settlements of Azerbaijan. During the counter-attack operations that lasted 44 days, Azerbaijani forces liberated over 300 settlements, including the cities of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli, and Shusha, from nearly 30-year-long illegal Armenian occupation. The war ended in a tripartite statement signed on November 10 by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia. Under the statement, Armenia also returned the occupied Aghdam, Kalbajar, and Lachin districts to Azerbaijan.

During the recent war, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani reiterated their support for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, saying that all Azerbaijani territories under Armenian occupation must be “liberated and returned to Azerbaijan”.

Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi said on July 14 that “with the return of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over occupied territories and revival of common borders, it would be better to use the new opportunities and enhance the level of cooperation with mutual efforts to ensure regional peace and security."