One of bloody crimes committed by Armenians against the people of Azerbaijan in Karabakh is Garadaghli tragedy. Garadaghli tragedy committed on February 17, 1992 actually was not the incident of a day or a night, it was the continuation of ethnic cleansing and genocide policy consistently carried out by Armenian nationalists against Azerbaijanis for about two hundred years.
In the second half of 80s of the XX century Armenians made a territorial claim on Nagorno Karabakh region of Azerbaijan to carry out the idea “Great Armenia”. According the plan prepared by Armenians in Yerevan and their protectors in the West, Armenians went on strikes and held rallies in Khankendi and Yerevan for the annexation of the province to Armenia under the guise of Nagorno Karabakh’s economic backwardness since the early 1988. The situation gradually became tense, pressures, persecutions and armed attacks were carried out against the people of Azerbaijan in Nagorno Karabakh. The main purpose was to oust Azerbaijanis from Nagorno Karabakh. In the late 1991 and early 1992 the situation became more severe in Karabakh. Armenian armed forces besieged and isolated villages and settlements settled by Azerbaijanis in Nagorno Karabakh, then occupied those territories, inflicted reprisals to innocent civilians, looted and burned houses and farms. On November 1991 – February 1992 during the occupation of villages Jamilli, Karkijahan, Gushchular, Malibayli, Meshali, Garadaghli, Armenian armed forces committed war crimes against innocent civilians.
One of villages of Khojavend district mostly exposed to tragedies and suffered the most in Karabakh War is Garadaghli. The village Garadaghli is situated 13km to the west of Khojavend district center, on the side of Khojavend-Khankendi road, in the foothills. Since Armenians separatists’ revolt in 1988 in Nagorno Karabakh, tragic days started in Garadaghli, Khojavend. Villagers got into the fight for every inch and every stone of their homeland where they were born and grew up, dozens of villagers were martyred in the unequal battle against Armenians.
On November 24, 1990, 3 villagers were brutally murdered by Armenian vandals in the 6th km of Khojavend-Khankendi road. UAZ coming to the village was fired by Armenians, a person was killed, and 4 people were injured on January 9, 1991. 2 of them died of wounds afterwards. Armenians brutally killed 2 people near the village on March 8, 1991. On June 28 of the same year, 6 villagers – 3 men and 3 women were burned alive in the farm 3km away from the village. A passenger-carrying bus coming from Aghdam to Garadaghli was fired by Armenian bandits in the 5-6th km of Khojavend-Khankendi road on September 8, 1991. 2 boys and 6 women died among 40 passengers in the bus. On January 8, 1992, one more Azerbaijani was brutally murdered near the village; about 100 sheep were taken as spoils by Armenians.
On February 14, 1992, Armenian vandals attacked the helpless village Garadaghli disconnected from all sides by using equipment and personnel of foreign mercenaries, in particular the 366th regiment of the Soviet Army located in Khankendi. 104 villagers and 14 soldiers in the village fought against the enemy for 4 days to the last bullet. 14 people, including one woman were killed in the battles. Our compatriots running out of ammunition were captured and taken hostage, another torture of them just started.
23 villagers were shot by Armenian killers in Baylik Baghi place of the village; most of them were buried alive and wounded in a silo trench. Some of villagers were dropped from cars and fired in Armenian villages located on Garadaghli-Khankendi road. Two people were killed in Zaki spring, 2 were murdered in the village Jamiyyat. Armenians tortured 8 hostage villagers and killed them brutally. Four people were martyred in different times. Nobody knows what happens to five people up to the present.
So, Garadaghli heroically fighting against Armenian occupiers for 4 years was occupied and burned on February 17, 1992 and genocide was committed against innocent civilians. During the occupation, 118 people were captured, 33 were shot. Armenian killers poured died and injured people into a farm well and buried them. Totally 68 people among captives and hostages were killed, 50 were hardly released. 10 of hostages were women, 2 were school children. 18 released people, including 5 women died of non-healing wounds. Brutality and vandalism acts against captives, beheading, burying alive, tooth extraction, keeping people in hunger and thirst, beating them to death were a crime against humanity. As a result of genocide committed by Armenians at a state level, 4 members of each of two families were murdered, 43 families lost the family heads, and 146 children were orphaned. 10 of people murdered in attacks on Garadaghli by Armenian armed forces were women, 8 were school children. 91 people from Garadaghli, i.e. one in every 10 villagers were killed. As a result of the occupation, 200 houses, 1 cultural house, a 320-seat secondary school building, 25-bed hospital building and other facilities, historical, religious, cultural monuments belong to Azerbaijanis and a cemetery were destroyed. About 800 people of the village became an IDP.
A villager of Garadaghli Mahammadali Bayramov noted that Armenians started armed attacks since 1990: “Armenians killed 3 people who came to the village to sell furniture. Then they wounded 1 person in the cattle farm near the village. In 1991 they started to fire both the village and cattle farm. When we came to the farm, we saw that 6 people, including women were burned. They took the cattle of the village when people went out. In 1992 the situation became tense. Villagers asked me to go and get help. Firstly, I went to the headquarters in Aghdam. Malibayli had already been occupied. There was need for a helicopter to evacuate women, children and elderly people from Garadaghli. We went to Ganja to ask a helicopter. We came away empty-handed there, too. We failed at crossing from Aghdam to Khojavend together with self-defense groups and police. We met Vidadi Huseynov from our village while going from Gulabli towards Garadaghli through the forest. He said that the village had been occupied. Only he could escape. People were taken to Khankendi… Armenians committed terrible crimes against our villagers. 4 people from my family – my father, my brother and my sister were killed, my other brother went missing…”
A villager Malahat Taghiyeva: “Garadaghli is our sore point. Our people were exposed to many tortures, oppression. Almost each family in the village experienced a family tragedy. I had lost my father, my brother, my nephew, my paternal uncle, my brother-in-law, my maternal uncles, my cousins in Garadaghli. All of them were my dears. I had left the village before this tragedy. I was 22 then. I would never forget. We asked about our relatives, missing people from released captives and hostages from our village after the tragedy. What those people said terrified us. Those people endured incredible sufferings, they were beaten, kept hungry and thirsty, their teeth and nails were extracted…It is impossible to forget this tragedy. I wish that Garadaghli would be awarded the title of heroic village”.
A witness of the tragedy Oruj Aliyev noted that he is still terrified when he remembers those days although many years passed since then and he said: “Armenians attacked the village on February 14. We resisted the enemy stubbornly, fought day and night. On February 17 our ballets ran out. People of the village were gathered in two KAMAZs and taken away. They brought some of us to the place named “Pir” on the outskirts of the village. They killed Shahmurad on the road. We got in the KAMAZ there; they dropped Eldar from the vehicle and beat him with a wooden stick to death. While passing through Baylik Baghi they stopped the KAMAZ on the edge of the Tut Baghi (mulberry garden). They said that 10 people shall drop from the vehicle. Telman threw the grenade keeping with him towards Armenians. I don’t know how many people died from the enemy side. They started to fire on us. Most of passengers in the vehicle were killed. I got wounded. Then we set off. They dropped Elmdar on the road. We had no information about him. They took away a few villagers from other people on the Malibayli Bridge to Khankendi. They beat us all night long. When I went out in the morning, I saw that our people lay on the ground in front of the prison and Armenians walked on them. They made us to get in the KAMAZ and brought to Asgaran. Our hard days started in Asgaran. They tortured us incredibly; beat and kept hungry and thirsty. One day an Armenian supervisor said to Ilgar that “If you don’t pluck hairs on one side of your face by your hands I will shoot you”. One of us plucked hairs on Ilgar’s face and another of us blew it… Then they took Ilgar away from us. We were together - two people from Garadaghli and 28 people from Khojaly. Every day they took away and beat us. They took me to beat 3 days after the occupation of Khojaly. I was taken back to the cell where people from Khojaly were kept, not my previous cell. It was full of people from Khojaly. Armenians often came, opened the door and killed anyone that they wanted by a knife or gun. Only 4 people among all those people remained alive until the morning. Our servicemen attacked from Aghdam to Asgaran. Armenians were leaving Asgaran, they took us to the village Noragah and put in a warehouse basement. Armenians extracted gold teeth of me and other hostages with pliers. We stayed there for 43 days. They kept us in water, beat and tortured us. A number of people from Khojaly died of hunger, cold, beating… Today I am alive; however I bear those terrific captivity days as heavy load with me”.
In order to communicate the Garadaghli tragedy to the international community, documentaries were made such as “Soygirimi: Garadaghli” (Genocide: Garadaghli) in Azerbaijani, Russian and English, “Soygirimi Garadaghli: davam edir…” (Genocide Garadaghli: continuing…) in Azerbaijani, Russian, English and French and “Garadaghli, mubariza” (Garadaghli, struggle) at the initiative of Khojavend District Executive Power. A website garadaghli.org and a book “Garadaghli genocide from the witnesses” were made regarding the genocide committed by Armenian armed forces in the village Garadaghli. Furthermore, monument complexes were erected in Yeni Garadaghli, Yeni Khojavend and Nargiztapa.