There is a certain arrogance to genocide.
It is the arrogance of believing that one nation, one ethnicity or one culture is somehow superior to another.
It is the arrogance of allowing that baseless sense of superiority to justify the gratuitous extermination of the people or culture that is perceived as inferior.
And it is the arrogance of thinking that these ruthless actions of the racial annihilation will be permitted to go unnoticed and without consequence by the rest of humanity.
That arrogance was evident when Saddam Hussein ordered the use of chemical weapons to “cleanse” northern Iraq of its Kurdish populations in 1988, and when former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic commanded his troops to embark on the Srebrenica massacre during the wars with Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.
It was even more apparent when the Nazis automated genocide with systematic death camps and gas chambers to streamline the murder of six million Jews in the 1940s, and today, as Sudan’s Omar Hassan al-Bashir continues to back Arab Janjaweed militias as they slaughter thousands of Darfuris to rid the country of the non-Muslim Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa.
Such acts of genocide, committed with a blatant sense of smug impunity, cannot be allowed to go unpunished or unnoticed.
Nonintervention policies be damned, it is the moral responsibility of every country and person with a semblance of social conscience to repudiate and intercede to put a halt to such insufferable crimes against humanity, whether it be through the taking up of arms, the implementation of economic sanctions or the focusing of global media attention and international denunciation of the perpetrators.
But while some acts of genocides do receive the condemnation and repudiation they deserve, others seem to go unnoticed or disregarded by the global community.
Such seems to be the case with the 1992 massacre of the Azerbaijani village of Khojaly.
Twenty-four years ago, during the Nagorno-Karabakh War, Armenian troops invaded Azerbaijani territory and razed the town to the ground, ruthlessly butchering 613 innocent civilians, 83 of whom were children under the age of 14.
Over a thousand ethnic Azerbaijanis were severely wounded, another thousand were taken prisoners.
And 150 civilians were never accounted for.
The brutality of the incident included unthinkable acts of maiming and dismemberment.
The eyes of children were gouged from their heads as their helpless mothers looked on in horror.
Screaming babies were skewed on spears like shish kabobs.
Pregnant women were bayoneted in their abdomen.
Men had their genitals ripped from bodies as they watched their wives and daughters raped by the savage architects of this intended eradication of the Khojaly villagers.
No one was spared the heinous violence of the Armenian armed forces and mercenary units, except those few that managed to flee on foot.
Of those who perished, 56 were killed with exceptional cruelty — burned alive, scalped, beheaded.
The international community, for its part, paid the obligatory courtesies of condemning the Khojaly massacre, with Human Rights Watch and Memorial declaring the mass killings “unjustifiable under any circumstances,” and the United Nations passing a toothless resolution reproving the carnage.
But after the requisite crocodile tears, most of the outside world turned its attention elsewhere and effectively forgot about Khojaly.
The Armenians, haughty in their self-approbation, refused to take any responsibility for the decimation of Khojaly, instead claiming that the murders were committed by Azerbaijan Popular Front militants who shot their own civilians escaping through the corridor.
They seemed to sense instinctively that the global conscience, distracted by more important international issues, would not long linger on the trivialities of an inconsequential slaughter of 613 farming villagers in a remote corner of the former Soviet Union.
But genocide, in any form or size, is not inconsequential and cannot be tolerated by a morally ethical global society.
The crimes against the people of Khojaly were and are crimes against all humanity, and the intention of the Armenians was clearly to wipe that village and its population off the face of the map.
The world must take an affirmative stance to force Armenia to be accountable for the Khojaly slayings and thus remove one of the major obstacles to reconciliation between Armenia and Azerbaijan by helping to open the way for healing between the two nations and bringing about a just settlement of the conflict.
In the meantime, Armenia, arrogant as ever, continues to occupy a full 20 percent of Azerbaijani territories in direct defiance of international efforts to encourage its withdrawal.
Some one million Azerbaijanis are refugees, driven from the occupied homeland.
The arrogance of the perpetrators of an “inconsequential genocide” is emboldened by the fact that they seem to have gotten away with it.
Thérèse Margolis can be reached at [email protected]