Spring 1994 (2.1)
Voices of Disbelief
Refugees Tell Their Own Stories
Translated by Farrokh Nakhchivani
Editor: Here are some of the stories refugees told us when we visited them.
Whose Tanks - Theirs or Ours?
I'm from Kurdlar Kandy village in the Fizuli Region. I was one of the last ones to leave. At first, I thought that the soldiers outside my house were our own. Then I saw them start shooting at the houses and I knew I had made a terrible mistake.
I gathered my family and we ran for the car. When we started to leave a shell exploded right in front of the car so I stopped, backed up, and took another route.
When we were a little distant from our town, we stopped, looked back, and saw the entire village going up in flames. There was no resistance or any sign of defense anywhere. Everything has been destroyed. Even if our hometowns were freed tomorrow, we have nowhere to go.
Photo: Cases of malnutrition are evident among a few of the refugees, especially the infants. Camp in open field, Barda, October 1993.
My Life Isn't Worth Living
I've been a refugee for two years now. I fled Serkh-Avard under heavy artillery fire and have been moving around in the valley ever since. My life is not worth living. I really wish I had taken one of those Armenian bullets.
Here in the camp, there's nothing but starvation, cold nights. We have no roof. I'm so tired and weak, I don't know what to do. What is going to happen to us?
Somebody came in and took a list of our names in the camp two months ago, nothing has happened yet. There's about a hundred of us here in this forest. The other day we had to go to a nearby village in search of bread. It had been raining hard for three days and we made the trip anyway - for nothing - we found no bread. There's another camp on the other side of the road over there. They probably have water and bread but we can't go there because of our cattle.
Food, bread and water - that's our biggest problem! My son here will be nine very soon. He's been to school for only 20 days in his life. But to hell with school, he needs food to stay alive.
We just voted in the elections. We need someone like Aliyev. We counting on him and his government to help us.
Only Wish - Return to Our Lands
All we want is to go back to our homeland villages. We can't live like this. Our lives have been uprooted. We belong to our village and our village belongs to us. As far back as anyone can remember, our village has never been part of Armenian territory.
We ask everyone and anyone who can help to arrange for us to go back to our homes. Those foreign governments who can hear us. We urge their support to figure out a way for us to return. That's all we want. We'll build everything from scratch again. We must return.
I urge you to help us to go back to our land. They've taken everything away from us. I have nine children. My husband had a heart attack. I've never had to depend on anyone's help before as I've knitted and sewed all my life. But we must settle back on our land. Help us.
The Unchained Dog
by Rafael Huseinov
There's a newsreel taken in1988 showing thousands of Azerbaijanis fleeing Armenia, their homes having been looted and burned and many of their relatives killed.
These people were fleeing the only route they thought reliable - over snowy mountains. Most of the people wore only thin clothing. In the rush and stampede, they weren't able to gather warmer clothes. Some of them with bare feet had no choice but to climb over dangerous icy rocks in the cold, snowy winter. I'll never forget the words of one of those old men who had fled. He was a broken old man with frozen feet.
"I'm so sorry," he told the TV reporters, "that in the rush I forgot to unchain the dog and the howls of that poor animal have haunted me all my journey." And with that, the old man, broke into tears, weeping for the dog he had left behind in his deserted yard - chained, and howling for him, its owner.
From Azerbaijan International (2.1) Spring 1994.
© Azerbaijan International 1994. All rights reserved.