MADRID – Azerbaijanis living in Spain gathered on Thursday to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the massacre of Azeri civilians as they tried to flee the besieged town of Khojaly during the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Here in Madrid, sympathetic Spaniards joined young Azerbaijanis at the emblematic Puerta del Sol to collect signatures on a petition asking the Spanish Parliament to declare the Khojaly killings a crime against humanity.
“We want the world to know our pain, to classify this deed as genocide,” Nuriya Lizada said.
The Azerbaijani community in Barcelona met in the city center to remember their slain compatriots, lighting candles and hoisting the flag of their homeland.
Spain is “one of the few countries that has still not condemned the genocide of Khojaly,” said Emili Aliyev, an Azerbaijani business consultant.
San Sebastian, in northern Spain, witnessed a demonstration of Azerbaijanis outside the city hall.
The Azerbaijanis come together every year on Feb. 26 to remember the massacre “in which more than 600 people died,” Farid Mustafayev said in the northern city.
“A part of Azerbaijani territory remains in possession of Armenia,” he added, referring to the still-unsettled situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.
In Seville, a score of Azerbaijanis turned out for a demonstration to call for “international recognition of this genocide.”
An exact body count was never made, but human rights groups and international observers estimate that hundreds of Azeri citizens were killed by Armenian armed forces in Khojaly on Feb. 26, 1992.
Azerbaijani authorities affirm that 613 people were killed, including 106 women and 83 children.