A memorial park and monument dedicated to Azerbaijanis killed in the Khojaly Genocide, which took place nearly 26 years ago, opened on Friday in Black Sea coastal city of Sakarya, in eastern Turkey. Officials from Turkey and Azerbaijan were in attendance as a monument called “One Nation, One Tear,” was unveiled and presented as a symbol of solidarity between two countries that are of the same Turkic root.
“Khojaly Genocide is a symbol of cruelty and impunity and one of the pages of Azerbaijan’s painful history,” Azerbaijani Parliamentarian Sona Aliyeva said at the opening ceremony, according to Turkey’s Milliyet newspaper.
The all-black monument stands at the entrance to the park, with the date of the event – February 26, 1992 – with an inscription that reads, “We will not forget the Khojaly Genocide.”
The memorial complex in Sakarya is the fourth of its kind in Turkey, and comes after those located in the capital Ankara, Ushak and Izmit.
The Khojaly genocide is remembered by Azerbaijanis as a pogrom that took place in the town of the same name, located in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. The tragedy occurred in the midst of a bloody, four-year war between the South Caucasus neighbors Armenia and Azerbaijan following the collapse of the USSR. Armenia has made claims on the region, which is an integral part of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territory, due to its partially ethnic Armenian population alongside indigenous Azerbaijanis.
The tragedy in Khojaly took place late in the night of February 25, when Armenian forces backed by Infantry Guard Regiment No. 366 from the Soviet army killed 613 people, including 106 women, 63 children and 70 elderly people and took hostage 1,275 others. Another 150 Azerbaijani nationals went missing, and their fate remains unknown to this day. In addition, 487 inhabitants of Khojaly were severely maimed, including 76 children not yet of age.
Monuments recognizing the massacre and its historical significance have been erected around the world, from Europe to South America. In 2008, a memorial was opened in The Hague in the Netherlands, while Berlin recognized the event with a monument in 2011. One year later, other monuments were erected in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as in Mexico. Israel also immortalized the memories of the bloody tragedy’s victims with its memorial, in 2016.
Fifteen countries from around the world, including Czech Republic, Romania, Mexico, Colombia, Pakistan and others, as well as Scotland from the United Kingdom and twenty states of the USA, such as California, Massachusetts, Texas, Pennsylvania and others recognized the Khojaly Genocide of Azerbaijanis.