Policeman burned by Armenians, resident of Salakatin who found home after 29 years, Armenian bus overturned in a ravine - REPORTAGE - PHOTO
- 16 February 2021
APA employees toured the territories liberated from the occupation by the Azerbaijani army under the leadership of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev. Our employees have prepared a series of reports from these territories under the heading "In the wake of victory". We present another reportage from this series:
You may read previous reportages:
There was a grave in the distance
For 29 years it longed for the road to the village.
The spirit of the owner of that grave is already happy. Because his relatives, villagers, and compatriots, whom he missed for 29 years have arrived to visit him. This is Akhullu village of Khojavand district. It is a village cemetery.
Let me tell you about Akhullu village, located at the foot of the Karabakh range with a beautiful view. Our visit here is not a coincidence. Back in 1988, when the Armenians ignited the conflict over the land claim, it was one of the first places of provocation conducted by them. Until then, the residents of this village lived in peace with the residents of the neighboring Armenian villages. They worked on the same state farm, used the same crops and pastures, and the children went to the same school. Mahammad Aslanov, a resident of the village, remembers those carefree days: “We were all united in one soviet. We lived in neighboring Armenians. Our state farm was the same. The village was mainly engaged in agriculture and cattle-breeding. We had about 2,000 hectares of vineyards, 10,000 sheep, and 5,000 to 6,000 head of cattle. We lived friendly.”
"We knew that purpose of the Armenians were to expel us from our native village," added Shaig Aslanov, a resident of the village: “Tensions were observed between Azerbaijanis and Armenians from the beginning of 1988. But it is a secret that why in this conflict, the Soviet troops and Soviet rulers of that time justified the Armenians. The Armenians would not be punished, the units of the Soviet troops stationed here allegedly deployed to defend the Armenians, although it was our village that needed protection because it was surrounded by four Armenian villages. We were not able to carry out an act of aggression against Armenians. It is strange that the Armenians, together with the officers of the troops stationed here, entered the village at night, and took those, who were active in the fight against the Armenians, a hostage by beating them with the butt of a machine gun with the order of the Armenians. They took and kept it in the Armenian villages you see above. ”
Thus, the conflict ignited by the Armenians in February 1988, resulted in the expulsion of the residents of Akhullu village from their native lands on January 9, 1992. It has been said and written about this too much. However, there is a significant aspect of recalling those events here today. After 29 years of longing, Akhullu residents have returned to their homes. It is true that Akhullu is no longer the village they left behind. There are not any of those luxurious houses, buildings, orchards, yards, and chimneys were destroyed, trees were cut down, roads were destroyed, and schools were blown up. Let it be. The main point is that the Akhullu people have been able to return to their native lands. After that, they will build more beautiful, more luxurious houses and buildings. These are not my words, but what I have heard from the people of Akhullu, which you will soon witness.
Before entering the village, we stop near the cemetery on the hill. This is the cemetery of Akhullu village. The heartbreaking scene, we see, is not different from what we have witnessed in other liberated parts of Karabakh: destroyed, demolished, excavated graves, broken, overturned tombstones. Only one tomb is different from the others. An iron plaque was placed on the tomb instead of the headstone. The Azerbaijani flag is waving over it.
This is the grave I talked about earlier, the grave of Martyr Aslanov Elchin Garay. Elchin Aslanov was the first martyr of Akhullu village in the Karabakh conflict. Everyone in the village remembers the moment of his martyrdom as if it happened yesterday. Let's hear everything from the brother of the martyr, Mahammad Aslanov: “At that time, our compatriots expelled from Armenia settled in Zamzur village of Khojavend. Elchin was also a policeman. In November 1991, due to the difficult situation, Elchin organized the defense of the village of Zamzur together with the employees of the Jabrayil District Police Department. They were four policemen. On November 15, about 200 Armenians attacked the village, and my brother and his friends tried to stop them. Two women were taken hostage in the incident. Five days later, the women were released. We went and could not find the bodies of my brother and other policemen. These women told us that Armenians saw that our people did not surrender and set fire on the house, where they were hiding. We went to the burnt house and were able to find their bodies with the number of their weapons."
Elchin was the last resident of Akhullu, buried in this cemetery. His fellow villager Shaig Aslanov says that he was buried with great difficulty: “Armenians shelled here with large-caliber machine guns from their posts in the surrounding heights. On November 21, we buried Elchin in those difficult conditions. We could not visit here after that day. We could not even build his gravestone. After our lands were liberated by our victorious army, on our first visit here, we temporarily put a plaque on the grave of the martyr Elchin and, of course, planted our flag. In the future, we will build his gravestone in the decent form to his name. Elchin is the first martyr of Akhullu. After him, there were 9 martyrs of the village at different times. They were also buried in the areas inhabited by displaced villagers.
We visit the village by finishing our visit to the cemetery. In fact, there has not been left a place in the village to visit. There are just dogs, which ran towards us with their hungry eyes, and two-three grey donkeys, which were probably glad to be liberated. In comparison with Armenian villages in the surrounding areas, at the foothills of the mountains, as if, Akhullu was removed from the Earth. As if, there had not been living here. Most of the houses in the village were destroyed, just a few houses are seen at the top of the hill. However, some of the residents who came with us, were able to know the place of their own houses, houses of their relatives, neighbors.
Ramziya Hasanova, who spent 17 years of her life in this village, is also among those who found their home: “After 29 years of separation, I stepped in the village where I was born and grew up. My feelings are very confused. There are joy and sorrow at the same time, but sorrow is more. Although our houses were destroyed, we were able to step into our native land, our village. We went and found our house. Unfortunately, only the remains of our spacious, luxurious house remained. It also affected me very badly, because it is very difficult to see the house where I was born, grew up and which was built by my parents with great difficulties. But, thankfully, we came and saw again. These lands are ours, I hope we will build better houses. "
The asphalt road leading to Zoghalbulag village is divided. After that, the uphill road leads to the village of Salakatin. We drive this way and stop near the spring in the center of the village. Salakatin village was a small village of 50 houses located in the mountains. Because of the wide view in front of the village, it is sometimes called "small Tbilisi".
Currently, it is difficult to find a building in the village, except for one or two houses. Houses were destroyed, fences were torn down, roads and paths were covered with blackberry bushes and grass. The surviving houses were used as stables. We enter one of those houses. It seems to be an ancient building with its carved stones, arched windows and arched roof. However, there are no traces of antiquity and beauty.
Hamlet Allahverdiyev, the village's executive representative, says Salakatin was a rich, large village. “There were about 500 houses in the village. However, Armenians did not provide Azerbaijanis with jobs and did not create living conditions for them. In 1957 alone, 11 houses left the village including my father's, while 25 houses from my mother's relatives. We were pressured and not allowed to work. Thus, the number of houses in the village decreased to fifty. Imagine that the school in the village was until 8th grade, and to study the ninth or tenth grades, the children had to go 6-7 km to Tuga on foot. Eleven-year schools were not allowed to be opened. Since then, Armenians have suppressed Azerbaijanis in this way.”
He says he spent his childhood in Salakatin: “I came every summer vacation. I have footprints everywhere in the mountains and valleys of this village.” Hamlet Allahverdiyev says his grandfather's homeland was surrounded by mulberry trees just above the village. After talking to us, he goes to look for his grandfather’s house.
Another resident of the village, Vugar Huseynov, is very happy. After 29 years and 4 months, he finally enters his father's home. Truly, there are only three walls left in a two-story, ten-room house. But it is enough to rejoice after long years of separation. Vugar Huseynov goes to the blackberry-covered yard of the house kneels down and kisses the ground.
"I am at home, at home. I came to our house, people,” said Mr. Vugar's wife. Her joy is incomparable, she greets everyone and shares his happiness: “This was the house of my deceased father-in-law and mother-in-law. They brought up seven children, two girls, and five boys. Thank God, they all have several children. All of them are ready to return here, to kiss its land and drink its water.”
“Perhaps it is the most beautiful day of my life. Now I live the day which I dreamed, wished for years. I would give my everything in order to experience this moment,” it is Vugar Huseynov, he can not speak ou of excitement, gets touchy: “I had lived in this home until I was 25. May Allah give us life in order we to return here and resettle again. We are indebted to our martyrs until our death, they gave us the opportunity to return to these beautiful places. As a result of the effort of our Supreme Commander-in-Chief we returned. Thank God finally I am in the land where I was born, in the home where I was born.”
Vugar Huseynov says that their yard was large: “It had an area of about ten hundred. We had planted there mainly apple, pear, mulberry, walnut trees. In general, we planted everything. Most of them have destroyed, blackberry, grass is overgrown in the yard. The car entered until the garage under the house. However, I have to say that not every car could go to the village. We raised the cars with chains here coming from the city. We have brought the wife to our brothers with horses, singing, dancing... Oh, what days there were in this village."
“If I am allowed I may stay here,” says Vugar with regret looking at the destroyed motherland.
-No,- she laughs- I was liked in another place. After occupation. As the girls of the village were beautiful, boys could not go other places.
Despite Gultakin Agayeva is not from Salakatin, she is one of those who came here as a bride: “After graduating Khankandi pedagogical Institute, I was appointed as a teacher here. I lived here until October 31, 1991. it was a little mountain village of Salakat. However, it was located in a place with beautiful scenery. It had very hardworking, intelligent residents.”
She points us the houses left only with rusty iron gates below the village. Unfortunately, roads, pave leading to there have been completely removed, otherwise, we would go as “guest” there. After all, the fear of mines has not yet been removed from these places!
Despite Gultakin has many nice memories regarding Salakatin, she has not forgotten rough days, hard years starting after 1988: “Armenians shelled the village from the top of these mountains. Every morning I collected a bag of bullets from the yard. Despite this, no one left the village. There was a belief that no one can withdraw us from the village. Schools, offices operated, every morning the people would go out of their houses with axes, and other tools and go to work. "
She remembers the occupation of the village with regret: “We had self defend troops, we protected the village until morning. However, the village was occupied. Tugh village was burnt in front of our eyes, it seems here. There already was nobody to protect us. Yes, there was a post on the other side of the graveyard. There, the soldiers of the 366th Motorized Rifle Regiment allegedly protected us, but I assure you that the Armenians did not leave until the morning. So, on October 30, 1991, the village was occupied.”
-And where is artesian?
-Artesian is ahead. In the left.
- I came and took water from the artesian. Where is the steep of Hovar?
-Here it is. It is the steep of Hovar. Here is also artesian
-We mixed blue stone in artesian. Here was veineyard. I will show you farm of my father. It was a big farm- It is driver, happily says.
-Where was it?
-it was on the left of the road. I will show you. Mr. Vahid will we go to the river next to Dirmanbend?
-Dirman? I do not understand anything.
-Dirman, our people said so- Mr. Vahid explains/
-There was mill- Now Mr. Jamil joins the conversation.
-Mr. Vahid all of these were newly constructed, weren’t they?- He points the park in the left of the road.
-Yes it was newly constructed.
-It was the pavilion of uncle Giyas
-I wonder what he cooked.,- says the driver, everyone laughs.
-And here is the gas station of Edic,- Vahid continues to guide.
-Was he Armenian?- Me asking
-Yes he was field commissioner in Tugh.
-Look our farm was here. Wow, the walnut tree remains here.
-it is Tugh village!
-Here is it started from?
- Is it the below of the fence of Niyaz?- Shows the fence
-House of Vali.
-It is market. It is the house of Jahangir.
-Vahid, what is it?
-It is an office
-it is post
-it is the police department.
-Then it is our post. We can go to our house next to the statue. It is Culture House! There was our club! How it is good that we came here!- It is our driver Elchin, he is like a pilot of an aircraft, not a driver. He is the one who is most amazed along the way, the one who asks the most questions, and the one who compares what he sees with the memories that are stuck in his memory.
Mr. Vahid (Goyushov) says that he has studied in this school. There was also an Albanian church with a bell tower above the school building: “Once upon a time, there was our club. We were watching a film there.
-Then they built the house of culture. The grave of Mirmehdi Xazani is also at the top of the mountain ahead. Our house is near there”
Vahid Goyushov was born in Tugh in 1951. His childhood, adolescence has passed here. He has gone first grade in the international school that Mirmehdi Khazani has also gone. We continue our talks under the old plane tree where the school has been once upon a time.
-This school has been in operation until 1978. We have studied together with Armenians at this school, but our classes were separate.
- You probably lived in a friendly atmosphere with the Armenians?
- Do not you resist?
-We were resisting. But Tugh village was surrounded by 12 Armenian villages. That is why it was difficult for us. Despite this, they could not resist us. They were throwing stones at our cars, firing our houses one by one. So, the situation became so tense that they have completely occupied the village on the night 30-31 October 1991.
At that time, the Armenian bus was coming from Hadrut to Domi village. Our people cut off the front of the bus and also took revenge on their fellow villagers, and rolled the bus into the ravine. When a UAZ car came and tried to ignore the Azerbaijanis, they rolled it also into the ravine. We always took our revenge on Armenians. We have always fought with the Armenians and taken revenge. Even though we were few, the Armenians were afraid of us. As there was panic in the village, we lit a bonfire on the hill where Mirmehdi Khazani's grave was, as in the movie "Dada Gorgud", and informed Fuzuli. At that moment, the people came to help us. Armenians were afraid of that bonfire.
-Finally, you have returned to the village where you were born. What do you feel?
-I would not believe that I could see my village after 30 years. But I am thankful to our Supreme Commander-in-Chief, President Ilham Aliyev, Thanks to him, thanks to our brave army, I came and saw my homeland. I bow to our martyrs and their parents.
Jamil Bayramov invites us to the garden of the house that he was born. We passed from the gate, there is a two-storey building at the left, a wall of the ancient building seems from the right.
“Here is my fatherland, I have lived here till I was married. After I got married, I moved to another house. How Armenian bandits destroyed this, they have also destroyed that house where I lived like that” said Mr. Jamil.
Armenians have destroyed the house where Mr. Jamil has lived and grown up and made workshops. According to him, the neighboring house was the home of Khudadat bey Malik-Aslanov, who was the Minister of Roads, Posts, and Telegraphs during the Republic of Azerbaijan.
House of Khudad bey Malik-Aslanov and other ancient monuments in Tugh are in the following witing…
Photo: Ilkin Nabiyev.