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Remembering the Agdaban Tragedy

Remembering the Agdaban Tragedy

About thirty years ago, the Armenians seized control of the Kalbajar district of Azerbaijan and attacked the village of Agbadan, burning down 130 homes and torturing 779 civilians in one night, with 67 slaughtered with particular cruelty.  Some of the women were even burned alive.  Meanwhile, the Armenians desecrated cemeteries and destroyed historic manuscripts of Azerbaijani poetry and other cultural landmarks belonging to Azerbaijanis in Agdaban.

Around this same period of time, one fifth of the Azerbaijani population was ethnically cleansed from the Karabakh region and the seven adjacent Azerbaijani districts, which led to one million people becoming refugees.    Around the same period of time, the Khojaly genocide happened, leading to 613 innocent Azerbaijani men, women and children getting slaughtered for the crime of being Azerbaijani.  

However, despite the thirty-year anniversary of the Agdaban massacre occurring over the past week, not many members of the international community have much to say about it.   French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is ready to mediate peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and calls for stability in the Caucuses, yet did not mention what happened in Agdaban, even though the thirty-year anniversary for this massacre occurred around the same period of time.    

Within the past few weeks, US President Joe Biden pledged $24 million in foreign aid and $600,000 in military assistance to Armenia, the nation that perpetrated a horrific genocide against Azerbaijanis in Agdaban, Khojaly, Agdam and other areas of Karabakh in the 1990’s.   Biden says that what the Armenians suffered during World War I was genocide.   However, he is mute on what happened in Adaban, Khojaly and other atrocities that the Armenians committed against Azerbaijanis more recently in the 1990’s. 

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid recently welcomed the Armenians back in Israel, as they just decided to reopen their embassy in the country after it was closed following the Second Karabakh War.  He discussed what could be done to improve Armenian-Jewish relations, yet made no mention of what the Armenians did to Azerbaijanis in the 1990’s. 

In fact, Lapid is on record calling upon the State of Israel to join Biden in recognizing that what happened to the Armenians in 1915 as genocide, yet he does not make a similar call concerning the classification of Armenian crimes in Agdaban, Agdam, Khojaly and other areas of Karabakh as genocide.   It should be stressed that former Israeli President Reuven Rivlin recognized what happened in Khojaly at the UN General Assembly as a crime against humanity and genocide, but this Bennett government has been mute on the topic.   

Azerbaijan’s late President Heydar Aliyev once stated, “The acts committed against our people should be characterized as a crime against humanity and their ideologists and organizers decently punished.  We have no right to forget these actions and their lessons.   Historical absent-mindedness and forgetfulness can result in a bad ending for our nation.”    However, it appears that the community of nations has forgotten the lessons that history has to teach us and are effectively ignoring the crimes against humanity that the Armenians perpetrated against the Azerbaijani people. 

Yet, as concerned citizens, we have a duty to stand up and object to this reality.  As famous Holocaust scholar Elie Wiesel once stated, “Without memory, there is no culture.  Without memory, there is no society and no future.  We must take sides.  Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.  Silence encourages the tormenter, never the tormented.”  Therefore, the community of nations must remember what happened in Agdaban, Khojaly, Agdam and other areas of Karabakh and the seven adjacent Azerbaijani districts, for forgetfulness only invites future atrocities.   


By Rachel Avraham



Rachel Avraham

Rachel Avraham is the CEO of the Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy and the editor of the Economic Peace Center, which was established by Ayoob Kara, who served as Israel's Communication, Cyber and Satellite Minister. For close to a decade, she has been an Israel-based journalist, specializing in radical Islam, abuses of human rights and minority rights, counter-terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Azerbaijan, Syria, Iran, and other issues of importance. Avraham is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media," a ground-breaking book endorsed by Former Israel Consul General Yitzchak Ben Gad and Israeli Communications Minister Ayoob Kara that discusses how the media exploits the life stories of Palestinian female terrorists in order to justify wanton acts of violence. Avraham has an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Ben-Gurion University. She received her BA in Government and Politics with minors in Jewish Studies and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Maryland at College Park.