Empty-handed Witness

By Narmin Noqte

Nurlan Huseynov. He was born in Horadiz settlement of Fizuli region in 1987. In 1993, due to the occupation of the region, he had  to leave his native home with his family. Currently Nurlan lives in Baku. He has graduated from the English language and Literature faculty of Azerbaijan University of Languages.

“I remember a few things before the war. Though I was little, I remember that we were well off. My father was engaged in wine trade and he earned good money. We were 3 children. Two of my uncles and grandfather were our neighbours. Life was very pitiful. The war, IDP psychology changed peoples` life. At that time, there weren`t so many problems. Even before the war I had a lot of toys…”

I was six. Father and Mother were often talking about the war, death, and injury. All of this frightened me. I couldn`t agree with idea of leaving our home. And once I understood that the word “war” was stronger than my childhood wishes and prayers. In fact, it was the strongest.

We heard shooting. I remember my uncle walk into our house in a hurry as bullets resonated in the air outside. There was tension and worry in his voice. He called us to his car. We had to leave, leaving everything behind. I remember my mother wanted to take some of the gold and money we had saved. My uncle got angry. He said we were loosing time and that it was dangerous to stay there any longer. We couldn’t take anything. Anything… Literally, together with my uncle`s family, we left the region empty-handed. We drove to the Iranian border. I don`t remember how long we waited there. I remember an hour later we heard  Armenians bomb a gas station nearby. It was a loud and strong explosion. My cousin and I were the same age. It’s hard to describe how we felt. We were very angered – 6-years-old children and the war, can you imagine what it means? We saw wounded people on the road, people were in a terrible state, and we heard the screams of women.

Nurlan says that it was the Soviet government that initiated the war between the two nations in order to start the conflict and to maintain its own integrity. They were able to put two nations face to face, who were in good relations years before. All attitudes were destroyed and the terrible war with its consequences was inevitable.

We came to Imishli region. We settled there in a dormitory for refugees – the whole family, small one-room apartment and terrible conditions. We lived there for several years. Then my family came to Baku. Believe me when I say that we didn’t have new clothes during those years. Nothing also changed at the dormitory – bad conditions, living in the very same, small one-room apartment. The conditions in the dormitory are still the same even today. Nothing has changed. Imagine, we were there about 10 years ago. But our neighbors still live there. The families grew old. Their sons and daughters are married. Today 7-8 people have to live in the same room. There is a bad sanitation system in the bathrooms and toilets. Even today it stinks when you walk past the building. It`s just horrible. Just so you know, the dormitory I am talking about is the one of the Educational – Cultural Training School, just in case, you would like to go and visit it.

War hurts

Nurlan`s family left their 4-room apartment, good livelihood, and all future possibilities. They once lived in a large home, and now they had to fit into this small room. Relatives living in Russia gave their empty apartment to them temporarily. House conditions were normal there. But there was another problem…

My father suffered from a nervous breakdown and he had to stay in bed for a long time. But my mother was working. It was very difficult to live for a while. Our relatives helped us. We saw what it was like to be hungry and poor. Several years were even more miserable. Then my father began to work. When my father began trying to adjust our life and conditions, our relatives came to Baku from Russia. They told us we had to leave their flat. We didn’t have any other choice. We began looking for dormitories. At that point, we settled at the semi-ruined plant of Sattarhan. There were 18 families on every floor (and so the toilets were for 150 families). There weren`t any bathrooms. We had to take a bath in the flat. Two years ago, this building was brought down for the planned construction of the center Haydar Aliyev. And 150 families were evacuated to the home that was built for refugees in Binagadi. Now conditions are good enough there. We have our own bathroom, kitchen and a toilet. We have water three times a day.

I was a child of a family that once owned a beautiful home, lived in good conditions, and my parents had good jobs. We were living happily and in comfort. But after the war my family lost everything they had. My parents had to start from scratch. Everything we owned before was lost. The love for life died, everything had grown dull. Though the war shows how it is important to live, after a while it makes all of that senseless. And now I think, what if we weren’t IDP’s? Everything would have been different. My family would have been able to provide me with more things, and war chips wouldn`t influence them in one or another way. But because we are, all they thought of was finding a piece of bread and finding some warm clothes. That`s why we (the children of war) never saw or felt caress of our parents. The war weakened my parents. Sometimes I complain and ask them why they never did more for us. But all they have to say in response is that we had to begin everything again from scratch.

We don`t need war

Two nations fight for even the most elementary things on the level of people and the government today. It`s not important for me who “dolma” or “kabab” belongs to. The belonging of “dolma”” or “kabab” doesn`t testify the intellectual level of these nations. Discussions of the officials on this subject are too bad. I think, representatives of both nation must show their intellects, humanity. It`s so stupid to have serious discussions on subjects like “dolma.” Neither we, nor Armenians could pass this period. In stead of discussing “dolma,” I would like all peaceful and intellectual faces to discuss and fight about and for humanity, peace, democracy, and freedom.

“I don`t have any problems with civilized, healthy-minded Armenians.”

I consider that today relations must exist between Armenians and Azerbaijanis. Because smart people must understand that the terrible consequences of war in reality keep them from development. They need to understand that war prevents them from reaching the values and development that many of the countries in the world have today. Nobody won then. Let`s think, is this war necessary to us? Men must not be so greedy. Let`s strive instead to be more peaceful. We must think, why we fight and for whom? I saw horror of the war and I hate it. But I don`t hate the nation that we fought with not so long ago. They put us against each other. They took us out off our humanness and made us kill each other. But we saw and understood everything. We lived through all the horrors. And now we must answer to the persons who were interested in keeping war conditions, and answer the world. We don`t need any tolls.

These two nations fight for even the most basic things on the level of people government today. It`s not important for me to whom “dolma” or “kabab” belongs to. Belonging of “dolma” or “kabba” doesn’t testify intellectual level of these nations. Discussions of the officials on this subject are too weak. I think, representatives of both nations must show their intellects and humanity. It`s so stupid to have serious discussions on subjects like “dolma”. Neither we, nor Armenians could get over this. Instead of talking about “dolma” I would like all peaceful and intellectual faces to discuss and fight about and for humanity, peace, democracy and freedom.

Life like a film

I have lived the war equal to a three-volume novel. Fate of each person was like a terrible story. Everybody was affected by the war. It was destroying everyone – people who once had homes, became homeless leaving their lives behind empty-handed, dormitories with difficult conditions were their new roofs, there were those who lost their lives or were wounded. It was so hard to see how people, who had seen the difficulties of war, were dying of heart conditions and cancer. The war shook our lives. Remark once said: “The duster of the refugees is smoky, they are traitors in their homeland, but accepted as strangers in the place where they went.” We have lived this. There are still such people who ask why we left our homes and chose to settle in Baku or tell us that we have destroyed their city.

He wishes that peace defeats war.

Nurlan says his life and lives of others like him, were no different from what Armenian IDP’s had to live through. He thinks as people who have shared a similar fate, Armenians and Azerbaijanis can understand each other well. During the interview he said it was very interesting for him to read the feelings of Armenian refugees. Whenever the thoughts in the story are similar, he shares those stories with his friends and gets them to read the Armenian side`s interviews too.

In reality, we are in the cease-fire period. It means there isn’t war. But there is still firing and soldiers perish. To end this, relations between old neighbors and communities must restart between the two people. After all, who will understand the importance of these relations better than these two nations? Naturally, it needs time. But everyone needs to try to forget the past, and must understand the necessity of reaching a solution to this problem. We mustn`t continue the war hostility in any circumstances. It won’t benefit anyone. All disagreements must be solved through time. We must not feed our children with such ideas as “Turks are your enemy” or “Look, these are Armenians. They are your enemy! Let there be no war once again!

We destroyed each other`s lives. Let`s be fair. Let future not to destroy but only love each other.  At the moment it is impossible to understand each other. But both youth from Azerbaijan and Armenia must be more healthy-minded, understand necessity of peace and etc. Peace must defeat the war. Humanity must win.

The children of war need someone important and strong to build their future. It is a very hard situation we have ourselves in.  To change this we need more peace-oriented projects.

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