Foreign students visit the frontline of Azerbaijan - PHOTOS | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

15 September,


Foreign students visit the frontline of Azerbaijan - PHOTOS

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Sixteen international students from 9 countries visited the war-affected Tartar district of Azerbaijan. The trip was organized by the International Eurasia Press Fund (IEPF) and aimed to get these students familiar with the reality of Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the life of refugees and IDPs in the frontline regions.

Eurasia Diary informs that the students came to Azerbaijan as a part of a volunteer program supported by the international organization AIESEC. Within the course of 6 weeks, they took part in 2 social projects covering the problems of gender equality and ecosystem protection. Some public sessions were organized in partnership by the IEPF and AIESEC and were held in the office of the Fund.

Getting more familiar with the key work activity of the Fund, and being interested to see the life of IDPs in the frontline regions, the students from Italy, Portugal, Serbia, Ukraine, Turkey, Russia, Austria, Lithuania and Germany, expressed a desire to join the trip to Terter, initiated and supported by a president of the Fund, Umud Mirzayev.

Welcoming the guests, the head of the Executive Power of the Terter region Mustaqim Mammadov informed them about the socio-economic programs and infrastructural development that is being implemented in the region. He spoke about the current projects, supported by the government, aimed to help refugees and IDPs in Tartar region of Azerbaijan. The representative of the Executive Power also gave information about the emerging problems in irrigation of planting areas, due to the blocking of Sarsang water reservoir by Armenian armed forces and closure of Tartar River, contamination of the river with the explosive substances, and the possibility of taking advantages of the water only by 30%.

The students had a chance to ask their questions concerning the programs for internally displaced persons. They hailed the work done by the Azerbaijani government to improve the living conditions of IDPs.

After this meeting, the students went to see the “Maraga 150” monument in Shikharkh village, erected in 1978 by Armenians to commemorate 150th anniversary of their settlement to Karabakh from Iran. President of IEPF Umud Mirzayev said that at the beginning of Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Armenians destroyed the monument because it bore evidence to their resettlement to Azerbaijan`s ancient land of Karabakh. He also said that there are many similar monuments built in Karabakh and after destroyed by Armenians to hide the truth about their origins.

After visiting the monument, students moved to Hesangaya village of Azerbaijan to meet with the residents of one of the frontline villages. They all were under the big impression of what they saw there as people in this village suffer from water scarcity, ecological disaster and constant shelling from the Armenian side.

The students were shown a house bombed in 2016, during the conflict escalation. They also met a mother who lost her daughter at that time.

“This trip was the best trip I've had in Azerbaijan, it showed me the other side of Azerbaijan. Before, I only knew the political and historical facts about this problem, but to go beyond the political facts and see how people suffer there, I had to go and talk with the real witnesses of the war, which made me cry when I first saw the woman who lost her 16-year-old daughter at war. Overall, the Nagorno-Karabakh is a very serious problem which should be told and shared all around the world to get everyone's attention and help” – Selin Gyokova from Turkey said.

“Some months ago I have read a book “A taxi driver in Baku”, the second part of the book was “Kamala histories”, I read about women that suffered because of the war in Karabakh, women that had to escape from their lands and raise their children alone. Women that since that moment cannot breathe. I understood that many other regions around Nagorno- Karabakh are still occupied, that many people live as refugees in their own country, many of them lost everything, some of them try to not speak about their past, their roots, others want to fight and take back their freedom. It’s hard when after more than 20 years still no one is telling the truth, and the International community doesn’t really know how is the situation there” – Veronica Forte from Italy said.

"During our visit to the frontline, I experienced for the first time the consequences of war. I was born and raised in Italy, and for me speaking about war is such an abstract topic. We are used to hearing news about ongoing conflicts, we read articles about refugees, we even see reportages showing the conditions of the war zones, but the truth is that until you are there and you see everything with your own eyes you can not understand what is going on, and once you get it you can't be careless anymore. When I was in Hasangaya I saw destruction, I saw the denial of human rights, I saw unpunished injustice. I am deeply grateful to all the people that shared their stories with us because they raised our awareness on the real face of the war and of the violence that Azerbaijani people are facing since too long time," another Italian student Simone Scotti noted.

Turkish student Ozan stated that he has been wondering what happened there and why that conflict erupted between those countries. "We spoke with locals and observed in those places directly. That gave me a chance to be standing away speculations."

Small presents and sweets, brought by the students, were distributed among the children in that village.

After this trip, all students were invited to visit the IEPF regional office in Terter where they also met the children – members of AYAP program, implemented by the IEPF and UNICEF Azerbaijan.

As it was noted by many students this trip was the most exciting part of their stay in Azerbaijan and they are keen to come back to take an internship in the IEPF Terter office to work with those refugees and IDPs.

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