AA / Ümit Dönmez
Relatives of thousands of Azerbaijanis who have disappeared since the first Karabakh war, testified to their suffering on the International Day of Missing Persons and Victims of Enforced Disappearances on August 30.
While they still live in pain and uncertainty three decades later, the relatives of the 3,890 missing Azerbaijani – 3,171 soldiers and 719 civilians – whose fate has remained unknown since the 1990s, continue to express their serious concerns. concerns about their well-being.
Reported missing following the Armenian aggression and occupation of several regions of Azerbaijan, in the Armenian war of invasion (1988-1994), these people were among the thousands of victims of systematic abuses by the Armenian occupier having perpetrated a long series of massacres as well as the massive expulsion of the Azerbaijani populations from their ancestral lands, but also the illegal detention, torture and attacks on the personal dignity of Azerbaijani hostages and prisoners of war, as evidenced by many UN institutions, NGOs and journalists present on the ground during the conflict.
– Fates forgotten by the international community
While the atrocities suffered by the Bosnian people in the war in the Balkans during the same period, such as the Srebrenica massacre (1992), captured the attention of the international community, the suffering of Azerbaijani victims of the First World War of Karabakh remain to this day largely unknown to the general public.
Despite repeated appeals from the Azerbaijani authorities to Armenia, among the 3,890 Azerbaijani missing since the first Karabakh war, “it was possible to obtain information on 54 Azerbaijani prisoners of war and hostages, including 6 women, who were identified by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and visited on several occasions by ICRC delegates in their places of detention ”, according to the international non-governmental organization (NGO) which reported Armenian violations of the Geneva Conventions (1949) relating to the treatment of prisoners of war and civilians in time of war.
These violations were part of a systematic policy of collective punishment and discrimination against Azerbaijanis, military and civilians alike; a modus operandi replicated on a smaller scale by Yerevan during the 44-day war of last autumn (September 27 – November 9, 2020), which allowed Azerbaijan to regain its sovereignty over the eight Azerbaijani regions occupied for a long time thirty years by the Armenian militias and settlers.
One of the most serious crimes against humanity was committed in the Azerbaijani city of Khojaly on February 25-26, 1992, following the occupation of the city by the Armenian armed forces .
Among the 613 inhabitants of the city massacred by the Armenian military were at least 63 children and 106 women, while eight families were completely wiped out. 487 people, including 76 children, also remained disabled.
Currently, the Azerbaijani State Commission for Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing Persons lists 196 residents of Khojaly, including 36 children and 65 women, who have been missing for three decades. Numerous testimonies confirm that at least 95 of 196 people, including 16 children and 22 women, were taken hostage in Khojaly by the Armenian military.
Over the whole of the first Karabakh war, of the 3,890 Azerbaijanis still missing to this day, at least 872 people, including 29 children and 98 women, were taken prisoner by the Armenian aggressors for not having left their homes or because that they remained in the occupied Azerbaijani territories.
Azerbaijan continues today to cooperate with the ICRC, in particular by collecting DNA samples from relatives of missing persons who, in despair, are still awaiting information that can shed light on their fate.
Unfortunately, some of these missing people are not alive and it is believed that their remains are buried in mass graves that have not yet been able to be located.
– The cry of despair from relatives of missing persons
“Not knowing what happened to a parent, spouse or child places an intolerable burden on these families. They live in limbo, unable to mourn, between endless hope and despair ”, testifies the ICRC in a message published Monday on the occasion of the International Day of the Missing Persons.  and titled “Azerbaijan: Thousands of People Still Waiting to Hear from Their Relatives”.
“We celebrate each of his birthdays, in his absence. The years go by, he gets old. But in my dreams, he’s still the same age, ”said the sister of an Azerbaijani disappeared from the first Karabakh war, interviewed by the ICRC.
In a post shared on social networks, the Association Dialogue France-Azerbaïdjan shares the emotions and images of relatives of missing Azerbaijani people.
As of January 1, 2019, according to the State Commission on prisoners of war, hostages and missing persons, the number of people missing as a result of the conflict in #HighKarabakh was 3888#DontForgetMissingAzerbaijanis #InternationalDayoftheDisappeared pic.twitter.com/s3byiOKvcW
– Association Dialogue France-Azerbaïdjan (@FrAzDialogue) August 30, 2021
A French-speaking Internet user recalls, for his part, that “Light has still not been shed on the fate of more than 3,890 Azerbaijani (3,171 soldiers and 719 civilians) who have disappeared since the first #Karabakh war (1992). Their families and loved ones still live in pain and uncertainty, ”notes the network.
The fate of more than 3,890 Azerbaijani (3,171 military and 719 civilians) who have disappeared since the first war in Iraq has still not been shed. #Karabakh (1992).
Their families and loved ones still live in pain and uncertainty.#DontForgetMissingAzerbaijanis pic.twitter.com/PxDfOBxlKG
– Sharon (@ Sharonelin1) August 30, 2021
 Testimonies: the broken destinies of Khojaly – Agence Anadolu – February 25, 2021
 Azerbaijan: Thousands of people still waiting to receive news about their loved ones – ICRC – August 30, 2021
Only part of the dispatches, which the Anadolu Agency disseminates . (HAS), is disseminated on the AA site, in a summary manner. .