The First Muslim Judge in the US said that: “The Massacre at Khojaly needs to be recognised!” - OPINION

  30 September 2020    Read: 1533
 The First Muslim Judge in the US said that: “The Massacre at Khojaly needs to be recognised!” -  OPINION

Judge Nawaz Wahla is currently serving in the New Haven Judicial District where he presides over civil matters. His previous assignments have included juvenile and criminal cases. As an attorney, Judge Wahla was well recognized for his dedication to the community and public interest, with approximately 25 percent of his practice dedicated to pro bono work. He previously served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Hartford County Bar Association and is presently a Bencher with the Oliver Ellsworth Inn of Court. In 2011, Judge Wahla received the Trailblazer Award from the South Asian Bar Association of Connecticut. He was also the recipient of the Connecticut Asian Pacific American Affairs 2011 Leadership Award. Most recently, Judge Wahla received the 2014 Immigration Day Award for his community contributions from the Connecticut Immigrant Refugee Coalition. Judge Wahla was the recipient of the Immigrant Haritage Hall of Fame in 2017. He said: “It's considered very important by the Azerbaijani people that the suffering caused by the Khojaly Massacre is recognised by the international community. To date, it has been recognised and commemorated by parliamentary acts in ten countries, and by 21 US states. The massacre at Khojaly needs to be properly recognised so that lessons can be learnt from the past, and justice for the victims can be secured.”

A dark chapter

The massacre that took place in the settlement of Khojaly in 1992 has been called one of the darkest pages in 20th-century history. From the end of 1991, the strategically important village of Khojaly was surrounded by Armenian forces. The village was shelled every night and residents became used to spending their evenings hiding in their basements for protection. On February 26th, 1992 an offensive was launched on Khojaly. The Azeri population of the village was forced to flee, and as they did so 613 civilians were killed including 169 women and children. 8 families were entirely wiped out, 130 children lost a parent, and 25 lost both parents.

Learning the lessons of the past in Azerbaijan Most people in the US have not enough knowledge of Azerbaijan. This fascinating country of over 10 million people is located at a cultural crossroads between Eastern Europe and Western Asia, in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. It's bordered to the north by Russia, by the Caspian Sea to the east, Iran to the south, and Georgia and Armenia to the west.

The capital Baku is a thriving city that blends the best of the old and the new. Its bustling port is the busiest on the Caspian Sea and is an important transit point for Europe-Asia trade. There are so many different cultural influences in Azerbaijan that it can be confusing for visitors, but it's this difference that makes it such a thriving and diverse place. With its location between Europe, Asia and the Middle East, it's well-positioned to take advantage of global trade opportunities.

Educated, outward-looking and hard-working people

As well as its location and fascinating culture, the people of Azerbaijan are one of the country's key advantages. You have incredibly smart Azeris living in the US. If you can judge the potential of a nation by the education levels of its population, then Azerbaijan is well placed going forward. Highly educated, with a large proportion having had some kind of higher education, Azeris overseas are particularly well qualified in science and technological subjects. Being at a crossroads, the country has always been a welcoming and open place, and Azerbaijani emigrants can be found in 42 countries across the world. There is an established Azerbaijani-American community. In 2004 the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus was founded in the House of Representatives. The Azerbaijan-American community has been honoured in several legislative bills and resolutions in recognition for their contribution to American life. This is mainly because of the efforts of the Azeris living overseas.

Challenges remain

The biggest ongoing challenge for Azerbaijan in the post-Soviet era has been the occupation of Karabakh. Four UN Security Council Resolutions and two General Assembly resolutions have recognised the fact of occuptaion, and have called to give the lands back to Azerbaijan. While great strides have been made to develop the economic and human potential of the country, the territorial occupation is a huge drain on valuable resources and national morale.

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