How Azerbaijan fabricates photographic evidence

Whenever there’s talk about Azerbaijani violence — be it killing and mutilating elderly people in Talish, shelling Stepanakert, killing an unarmed, disabled man in Hadrut , axing a sleeping Armenian officer during NATO trainings, decapitating a Yazidi soldier of RA army and parading their head in their villages, there’s one word Azerbaijani people will quote, to justify just about everything they do: Khojali. Not Sumgayit, Kirovabad, Baku, Askeran pogroms: Khojali.

Someday I will talk about Khojali too, and try to be honest about it — the topic is very problematic because of propaganda, misinformation and hearsay being represented as fact.

But let’s talk about the photographic evidence Azerbaijan loves to represent as proof. It is very interesting, how Artsakh army took Khojali (now known as Ivanyan) and holds it to this day, but Azerbaijan has so many photographs made with so many different cameras and technologies.

This is the story of one such photograph.

On March 2019, the Azerbaijani embassy in Iran organized an exhibition of photographs allegedly representing the events of Khojali.

At least one of those photographs might seem familiar to you. It shows a woman kneeling over the body of a dead child.

It is a very touching, expressive photo, and might seem familiar to you. Because it has been a featured photograph on English, Persian and Vietnamese Wikipedia in a very different context.

Here’s the photograph on WikiMedia Commons. It represents an Armenian woman kneeling beside her dead child near Aleppo, Syria, during the events of the Armenian Genocide.

The photograph is kept at the Library of Congress, as part of George Grantham Bain Collection.

So here’s a quick recap: Azerbaijan commits a multitude of human rights abuses, demands that the world believes them and sympathizes with their cause, when they talk about Khojali, and presents photographs of the Armenian Genocide as photographic evidence for those events.

This is not just a lie. Not just propaganda. This is as morally bankrupt as it gets.

So when you ask yourselves, who to believe, remember the story of this photograph of an Armenian mother kneeling over her dead child during the events of the Armenian Genocide, where 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Turkish government.

This story has also been covered by Armenpress news agency on March 4, 2019.

Writer and columnist based in Yerevan, Armenia