Humay Abbasova

Setting out at 7pm we went through the forest, heading for Aghdam... walking barefoot ... eating snow. My husband had frostbitten fingers and I had frostbitten feet. Many died in the forest. We were there a long time and walked a long way before we were captured. We were surrounded by forest on all sides and that helped many to survive.

One of my sons was killed. Another son was taken hostage. He was seen once on television, but has never been seen since then.

We were held and taken hostage in Askeran... there were lots of us in Askeran... Women and men were separated... There were beatings... the men had urine thrown over them... they were tortured, spat upon, killed like animals...We were kept in a room not much bigger than this one, crowded with women... They threatened to burn us alive... We were exchanged for bodies and prisoners - one commander for fifty hostages... My husband was beaten and died on the way back... Nobody was killed like the people from Khojaly. I am still alive, but I lost two sons.

Khojaly had recently got gas, water and phone connections. It was a beautiful town, with natural springs. The Qarqar river was next to the town... Khankendi was on the right and Khojaly on the left. There were new buildings and long roads.

It was mainly agricultural; the kolkhoz produced many dairy goods. The population was 7,000; it had a Culture House and an Executive. It was named a town in 1990. We lit bonfires for the Novruz (Spring) holiday and celebrated in the stadium. We would crack each other's eggs, there were tightrope walkers, the children would drop their hats at front doors to collect goodies and neighbours would visit each other... The Armenians started unexpectedly: Khojaly, Askeran, Aghdam, their children would throw stones. We gave Novruz bags (of sweets etc) to Armenians; who could have imagined what would happen?

When we fled from Aghdam we opened the door for the poultry and threw wheat in so that the hens wouldn't die... Many who escaped died from stress - there were many illnesses caused by stress.

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