A new stage in the “Justice for Khojaly” campaign

Mashadi IbadPages 8-9

by Rovshan Didavari

Leyla Aliyeva heads the representative office of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation in Russia, she is senior coordinator of intercultural dialogue for the Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and chair of the Azerbaijani Youth Organization in Russia. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of “Baku” magazine, which is published in Moscow. Ms. Aliyeva works hard to promote Azerbaijani culture in Russia and to disseminate facts about Azerbaijan to the world at large. She has long been active in working with young Azerbaijanis who study and live in Russia and Europe. We would not be wrong in declaring her to be a charming young woman, an interesting person to talk to and a lively personality; she is also the ambassador for Azerbaijani youth policy in Russia. Leyla Aliyeva is guided in her public work by the slogan, “We must stick together and cooperate”.

Azerbaijan in Russia

According to Leyla khanim, the priority is to represent Azerbaij an well in Russia - its culture, arts, sports, and also the people’s generosity, nobility and friendliness. The point is to help Russia to get to know the real Azerbaijan. The Heydar Aliyev Foundation’s representative office in Russia aims to develop the ties of friendship between Russians and Azerbaijanis. The Foundation and the Azerbaijani Youth Organization in Russia, together with their Russian partners, carry out cultural exchange programmes, introducing Russian schoolchildren and students to Azerbaijan and introducing Azerbaijani schoolchildren and students to Russia. These exchanges will undoubtedly help to clear away a number of the negative stereotypes that still exist in relations between our countries.

Remembering Khojaly

The Azerbaijani people have commemorated the touching memory of victims of the Khojaly massacre for 18 years now, and this tragedy is permanently inscribed as a shocking and bloody page in Azerbaijan’s history. The Heydar Aliyev Foundation has devoted much attention to the issue and has published books, made films and organized annual photographic exhibitions. The foundation holds events in 50 countries, inviting scientists, historians, culture experts, young people and journalists to attend.

One such event was held on 26 February, in the Bolshoi
Leyla Aliyeva with members of the Azerbaijani Youth Organizationin RussiaLeyla Aliyeva with members of the Azerbaijani Youth Organizationin Russia
Petrovskiy hall of the President-Hotel complex in Moscow, to summarize the results of one year of the “Justice for Khojaly” campaign. The meeting was organized jointly by the Azerbaijani Youth Organization in Russia (AYOR) and the Youth Forum of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (ICYF). It opened with a presentation of the “Justice for Khojaly” music project. A rap song of the same name was performed by the famous American rapper and US goodwill ambassador Toni Blackman, and the Azerbaijani group Dayirman.

Leyla Aliyeva initiated the campaign and opened the official part of the event. She spoke about the work done and the campaign’s achievements.

She noted the special importance of the resolution passed at the sixth session of the Parliamentary Assembly of Member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference held in Uganda in January 2010, which defined the tragedy as “a crime against humanity”. She continued: “Today our work enters a new stage – we are launching a campaign to address heads of state, the world’s parliaments and international organizations.

“The successes we gained over the last year make us confident that the campaign’s work will expand further this year.”

Other speakers included famous Russianwriter Professor Yuriy Pompeyev, author of “Karabakh Diary”, Julian Luqo Mendez, Vice-President of the Latin American Youth Forum and regional coordinator of the campaign, and Yekaterina Kozlova, Moscow Law Academy student and national coordinator of the campaign in Russia,. They stressed the international importance of the campaign and spoke about specific work carried out at national and international levels.

Website and Petition

Over 500 people attended the event, including Russian intellectuals, members of various scientific societies, journalists, representatives of the Azerbaijani diaspora and students studying at universities in Moscow. They were able to view the petition’s multi-functional portal, which is posted on the campaign’s website (www.justiceforkhojaly.org). At the end of the event, participants signed the newly-launched campaign petition, addressed to the President of the USA, the Secretary-General of the UN, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and members of the European Parliament. The petition called on them to recognize the Khojaly tragedy as “a crime against humanity” and to take steps to “bring the culprits to book”.

A photographic exhibition in the hotel lobby illustrated the campaign’s activities in various countries over the past year.

We should mention that the “Justice for Khojaly” campaign was launched, on Leyla khanim Aliyeva’s initiative, on 8 May 2008, the anniversary of the occupation of Shusha. The campaign is currently being conducted successfully in over 30 countries by hundreds of volunteers. The aim of the campaign is to inform the international community about the Khojaly tragedy, to persuade the international community to exercise a political, legal and moral judgment of the tragedy and also to have it commemorated at international level. The campaign is coordinated internationally via the website www.justiceforkhojaly.org.