Protection of civil population in armed conflicts: the case of Khojaly

On  February, 12th an International Conference, titled “Protection of civil population in armed conflicts: the case of Khojaly” was held in the very heart of Rome. The event can be called really international not only for the topic discussed, but also for its audience. Among the guests there were  representatives of Azerbaijan, Armenian, American, Chilean and Ukrainian Embassies.

Protection of civil population in armed conflicts: the case of Khojaly - Geopolitica.info

The conference was organized by Italian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights and Italian League for the Human Rights. The date of the event was not a random choice, it was held on the eve of 22nd anniversary of the so-called “Khojaly massacre”.

On February 25th , 1992,   the Armenian troops bombarded the town. As a result of this massacre 613 civilians were killed.  The Khojaly case has little international publicity and is less known than other similar cases of Human Rights violation, such as those that took place during the Yugoslavian Wars. Until now no one was charged for the war crimes committed in Khojaly.

On this occasion international experts in Human Rights and Contemporary History had a unique opportunity to confront their points of view and scientific approaches. The Human rights expert board was represented by such prominent experts as Prof. Alfredo Arpaia, president of the Italian League for the Human Rights; Dr. Roberto Mura; Dr. Vitaliano Esposito, member of the European Commission against racism and intolerance; Dr. Antonio Marini, lawyer; Paola Casagrande, president of Italia-Azerbaijan Association. The session was moderated by Dr.AntonioStango, Secretary General of Italian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights.

The board of scholars was represented by Dr. Fiametta Borgia, lecturer of International Right and Prof. FulvioSalimbeni. While the second part of the Conference was dedicated to the presentation of the book, written by Prof. Johannes Rau which has been working on the topic for the last 10 years. The book, titled “Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan History”, translated in Italian language was published in Italy in 2011. The Italian version of the book, edited by Prof. AntonelloFolcoBiagini and Dr. Daniel Pommier from Sapienza University of Rome, became one of the first scientific works on this topic, published in Italy. The book of the German historian Johannes Rau, issued for the first time in Germany in 2009, represents an important and complete study not only of the armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan itself, but also of the historical evaluation of the territories in question from the ancient times. Professor Rau argues that the conflict, that has exploded after the dissolution of the Soviet Union,has deep roots in the history of the region. Thus, for example, in autumn of 1918, as a result of Zangezur conflict under pressure of the Armenian troops 50.000 Azerbaijani had to  leave their homes.

Now, 20 years since the conclusion of the atrocities of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, there are 600.000 Internally Displaced People (IDP) from Nagorno-Karabakh region in Azerbaijan. Scholars give different definitions to the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Some call it frozen, others prefer to refer to it as forgotten. In any case it still remains unresolved.

It goes without saying that the best way to solution of a conflict is to study its origins and causes. Of course,either an outstanding analysis, like the one conducted by Professor Rau or an international conference, like the one held in Rome on February 12th, unfortunately, cannot resolve the existing problem. But they definitely invite us to reflect and thus contribute to the better comprehension of the issue and to reconstruction of the historical truth.