fog.png
Sunday November 29th, 2020 1:51PM

Azerbaijanis who fled war look to return home, if it exists

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — As Azerbaijan regains control of land it lost to Armenian forces a quarter-century ago, civilians who fled the fighting decades ago wonder if they can go back home now — and if there's still a home to go back to.

An estimated 600,000 Azerbaijanis were displaced in the 1990s war that left the Nagorno-Karabakh region under the control of ethnic Armenian separatists and large adjacent territories in Armenia's hands. During six weeks of renewed fighting this fall that ended Nov. 10, Azerbaijan took back parts of Nagorno-Karabakh itself and sizeable swaths of the outlying areas.

More territory is being returned as part of the ceasefire agreement that stopped the latest fighting. But as Azerbaijani forces discovered when the first area, Aghdam, was turned over on Friday, much of the recovered land is uninhabitable. The city of Aghdam, where 50,000 people once lived, is now a shattered ruin.

Adil Sharifov, 62, who left his hometown in 1992 during the first war and lives in Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, knows he will find similar devastation if he returns to the city of Jabrayil, which he longs to do.

Jabrayil is one of the outlying areas regained by Azerbaijani troops before the recent fighting ended. Soon after it was taken, one of Sharifov's cousins went there and told him the city was destroyed, including the large house with an orchard where Sharifov's family once lived.

Nonetheless, “the day when I return there will be the greatest happiness for me,” he said.

For years, he said, his family had followed reports about Jabrayil on the internet. They knew the destruction was terrible, but Sharifov's late mother retained a desperate hope that their house had been spared and held on to the keys.

"I will build an even better house,” he vowed.

Ulviya Jumayeva, 50, can go back to better, though not ideal circumstances in her native Shusha, a city that Azerbaijani forces took in the key offensive of the six-week war.

Her younger brother, Nasimi, took part in the battle and phoned to tell her the apartment their family fled in 1992 was intact, though mostly stripped of the family's possessions.

“According to him, it is clear that Armenians lived there after us, and then they took everything away. But our large mirror in the hallway, which we loved to look at as children, remains,” Jumayeva said, adding: “Maybe my grandchildren will look in this mirror.”

“We all have houses in Baku, but everyone considered them to be not permanent, because all these years we lived in the hope that we would return to Shusha," she said. "Our hearts, our thoughts have always been in our hometown.”

But she acknowledged that her feelings toward Armenians have become more bitter.

“My school friends were mostly Armenian. I never treated ordinary Armenians badly, believing that their criminal leaders who unleashed the war were to blame for the massacre, war, and grief that they brought to their people as well," Jumayeva said.

”But after the current events, after the shelling of peaceful cities ... after the Armenians who are now leaving our territories, which are even outside of Karabakh, burn down the houses of Azerbaijanis in which they lived illegally ... something fractured in me. I changed my attitude toward them," she said. “I understood that we, Azerbaijanis, will not be able to live peacefully next to the Armenians.”

While Sharifov has less to go back to, he has a more moderate view, saying the two ethnic groups with different religious traditions still have the potential to live together amicably.

“If the Armenians observe the laws of Azerbaijan, and do not behave like bearded men who came to kill, then we will live in peace," he said. “The time to shoot is over. Enough casualties. We want peace, we do not want war.”

___

Associated Press writers Aida Sultanova in London and Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this story.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Äzerbaijanis who fled war look to return home, if it exists
As Azerbaijan regains control of land it lost to Armenian forces a quarter-century ago, civilians who fled the fighting decades ago are wondering if they can go back home now
3:14AM ( 20 minutes ago )
Figueiredo, Shevchenko defend flyweight belts at UFC 255
Deiveson Figueiredo stopped Alex Perez with a guillotine choke in the first round at UFC 255, defending his men’s flyweight championship for the first time
2:53AM ( 41 minutes ago )
Polls open in Burkina Faso for election marred by violence
Polls opened in Burkina Faso early Sunday for presidential and legislative elections marred by ongoing extremist violence in the landlocked West African nation
2:27AM ( 1 hour ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Trump team requests recount of Georgia's presidential race
President Donald Trump’s campaign has requested a recount of votes in the Georgia presidential race, a day after state officials certified results showing Democrat Joe Biden won the state
11:50PM ( 3 hours ago )
Protesters torch Guatemala's Congress building amid unrest
Hundreds of protesters have broken into Guatemala’s Congress and burned part of the building amid growing demonstrations against President Alejandro Giammattei and the legislature for approving a controversial budget that cut educational and health spending
10:08PM ( 5 hours ago )
In blistering ruling, judge throws out Trump suit in Pa.
A federal judge has dismissed the Trump campaign’s longshot effort to block the certification of votes in Pennsylvania
9:54PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP National News
Protesters burn part of Guatemala's Congress building
Hundreds of protesters have broken into Guatemala’s Congress and burned part of the building amid growing demonstrations against President Alejandro Giammattei and the legislature for approving a budget that cut educational and health spending
7:50PM ( 7 hours ago )
Carson says he's 'out of the woods' after battling COVID-19
Housing Secretary Ben Carson is crediting unapproved, experimental treatments with saving his life after saying he became “desperately ill” following his infection with the coronavirus
7:13PM ( 8 hours ago )
G-20 summit opens as leaders urge united response to virus
The Group of 20 summit has begun with appeals by the world’s most powerful leaders to collectively chart a way forward as the coronavirus pandemic overshadows this year’s gathering, transforming it from in-person meetings to a virtual gathering of speeches and declarations
7:02PM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Figueiredo, Shevchenko defend flyweight belts at UFC 255
Deiveson Figueiredo stopped Alex Perez with a guillotine choke in the first round at UFC 255, defending his men’s flyweight championship for the first time
2:53AM ( 41 minutes ago )
Polls open in Burkina Faso for election marred by violence
Polls opened in Burkina Faso early Sunday for presidential and legislative elections marred by ongoing extremist violence in the landlocked West African nation
2:27AM ( 1 hour ago )
Slovis, dominant defense power No. 20 USC past Utah 33-17
Kedon Slovis threw for two touchdowns and No. 20 Southern California rode a strong defensive performance to overpower Utah 33-17 on Saturday night
2:20AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Pakistan's cases rise amid large gatherings
Amid defiance of the directive to wear masks and avoid large public gatherings, Pakistan has reported 59 more deaths and 2,665 new cases of COVID-19
1:49AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: More mass testing in China after 3 new cases
Authorities are conducting mass testing and shutting down schools after China reported three new domestically transmitted cases in the past 24 hours _ two in northern Inner Mongolia province and one in Shanghai
1:36AM ( 1 hour ago )