Moving Khojaly documentary screened in Paris

Press Release: On 24 February, the new independent documentary Endless Corridor was screened at the Cultural Centre of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Paris in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. The screening commemorated the victims of the Khojaly Massacre in 1992 – the worst single atrocity of the Armenian–Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh – which claimed the lives of 613 civilian victims in 1992. The death toll included 106 women, 63 children and 70 elderly people. The event was jointly organised by the Azerbaijani Embassy to France, The European Azerbaijan Sociey (TEAS) and the Association of Friends of Azerbaijan (AAA) and attended by around 80 diplomats, VIPs, and representatives from the arts and media.

In his opening speech, H.E. Elchin Amirbayov, Azerbaijani Ambassador to France provided detailed information about the consequences of the continuing Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan. He went on to describe the Khojaly Massacre as an act of ‘genocide’ that is indicative of the criminal policy of ethnic cleansing committed in Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven surrounding districts, which remain under Armenian occupation. Furthermore, he emphasised the crucial importance of spreading the truth throughout the world about this most terrible episode of the tragic conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. He praised the Justice for Khojaly campaign launched in 2008 by Leyla Aliyeva, Vice-President, Heydar Aliyev Foundation, which has already brought important results in raising public awareness about Khojaly on an international level. He expressed the hope that France would soon join other countries who have recognised the Khojaly Massacre as a war crime, and his wish that the perpetrators of this heinous crime against humanity should be brought to justice.

Marie-Laetitia Gourdin, Director, TEAS France, explained: “TEAS is proud to organise these events within the framework of the Justice for Khojaly campaign, which is an international awareness campaign initiated by Mrs Leyla Aliyeva. The campaign’s rapid development is a measure of international support for the restoration of justice in the region. This has been expressed at events in over 100 countries in Europe, America, Asia and Africa, and has come from individuals and international organisations, as well as states. TEAS is organising events within the Justice for Khojaly campaign in London, Strasbourg, Brussels, Berlin, Bern, Dublin, Istanbul, Ankara, Rome, Luxembourg and Vilnius, in addition to Paris.

Endless Corridor is a film that came about because Richard Lapaitis, a Lithuanian journalist and witness of the horror of Khojaly, could not let the experience lie or forget the people who survived. He returned with a touching and humane desire to find out how they coped with the memories of loved ones killed before their eyes. Russian journalist Victoria Ivleva also returned to reunite with Mehriban, a mother whose two-day-old baby she had saved in the confusion. The stories are of ordinary people whose lives were devastated by the Armenian invasion of their land.”

“Tonight is also dedicated to Dilham Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev, two Azerbaijani civilians who were captured by the occupying forces in July when tending the graves of their relatives in their historic homeland. In December, an illegal ‘court’ sentenced them to 22 years and life, respectively. It is imperative that the French authorities are alerted to the plight of these men so they are not forgotten and are immediately freed by the Armenian authorities as a humanitarian gesture.”

Jean-François Mancel, MP, Member of the France–Azerbaijan Friendship Group at the French National Assembly, and Chairman, AAA acknowledged: “Yesterday we paid tribute to the civilian victims of Khojaly at a commemoration concert organised by TEAS, under the auspices of the Justice for Khojaly campaign. Today, the screening of this documentary will help you to learn about the Khojaly Massacre through the narratives of the witnesses and their personal stories. It explains how and why this tragic event took place. The AAA knows how to bring together knowledge and cultures, but also how to share the grief, pain and suffering of the Azerbaijani people. That’s why the AAA is sharing the sadness of the infamous massacre in Khojaly with its Azerbaijani friends.”

Despite the passing of four UN Security Council resolutions against the invasion, Armenia continues to occupy Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts to this day. Currently nearly 20 per cent of Azerbaijani territory remains occupied, and approximately 875,000 refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) remain spread across Azerbaijan. The evening was dedicated to the memory of the Khojaly victims and those Azerbaijanis who have one wish – to return home.