Nazaket Huseynova

The situation was terrible before the trouble (meaning the night they were driven out of Khojaly) constant shooting. Constant rocket fire and every evening we had to go into the cellars to sleep. We all had cellars, but we tried to collect together in one family’s cellar. In the daytime the men went to the border (of the village) to try to get information.

The Armenians had attacked on 18 September 1988... There was hand-to-hand fighting. They set fire to the fences and the cattle fodder.

Why did it all start? They wanted to drive us out. They wanted the territory. We were hospitable and never expected such hostility.

Nazaket khanim's father-in-law had often talked about previous aggression as he recalled his life.

‘We would cross the Qarqar river; in 1918 a woman dropped her baby while crossing’. Each time the village had been resettled: ‘Why did you go back?’ she had asked, ‘The graves of our ancestors were there’ was the reply.

Her husband, Bakir Huseynov, had been a transport engineer. Tofiq Huseynov, commander of the self-defence battalion, was his brother. Bakir himself had joined the battalion formed in late 1991. But as the attacks intensified, they realised that a more organised defence was needed.

We hoped that Russian soldiers would protect us, but they didn't. There were Russians placed in Khojaly, but they never returned fire and they wouldn't allow us to fire back.

There were terrible stories:

In Askeran they stopped a car and burned the people alive. The bodies were buried at night by car headlights.

We never thought of leaving; it was the only Azerbaijani village left in the area and Tofiq (Huseynov) said 'Khojaly is the only place I'll die.'

On that night (25/26 February 1992) the Armenians occupied, killing and burning people alive. We crossed the Qarqar river and fled into the forest. In the forest we got separated from my husband and his parents. They were never found...

In 1992 we heard a rumour from a released prisoner that Bakir was being held in Armenia. In 1995 a prisoner from Fuzuli reported to the Ministry of Security that he had been held in Shusha and he had seen Bakir there. There is a State Commission working on prisoners and missing people.

The children ask 'Where is grandfather?' or 'Is grandfather killed?' We have a video of a wedding party with Bakir there, but it re-opens the wound...

My daughter-in-law has constant nightmares; she sees Armenians tying her son to a tree and torturing him...

I am sorry for the state of this house. We had a very beautiful home in Khojaly and I would like to have invited our guests (ie the interviewers) there.

We couldn't take anything... we just ran the way we were. We didn't have a cup for tea.

We don't even have graves to tend. My husband was lost.

Of course I want to return, we love our motherland. Nowhere is as beautiful as Khojaly.

Interviewed by Ian Peart
Story source: Book “Khojaly Witness of a War Crime - Armenia in the Dock”,
published by Ithaca Press, London 2014