Shusha - a legendary town

I was born in Hindarkh, one of the most ancient villages around Shusha fortress. I graduated from a secondary school in Shusha. I grew up there.

On the 20th of January 1990, tragic events took place in Baku when the Soviet troops entered the city and killed civilians. Russian tanks crushed indiscriminately all the protesters: women, children, and the elderly people. At that time, I was engaged in a public work in Baku, participated in the resistance of the people in connection with Karabakh and I was at the heart of events. On the morning of these January events, mass arrests began. There were searches from house to house. Just like other activists, I hid for a while until being caught. The police that used to be called militia raided the houses, conducted searches without giving rest to our families. To avoid danger, I along with my family went to Poland where I had to live for 10 years.

Life is hard enough, but living in a foreign land, building everything from scratch is twice as hard ... But it's not for me to mind only my own business and spend all the money only for the family. All my thoughts were about my motherland I left in distress. So, I tried to do at least something for my country.

In 1991, I founded the Azeri society in Poland. In 1994, I together with Irfan Murat Yildirim, a teacher of University of Warsaw, Azerbaijani Turk, founded "Friends of Azerbaijan" society. In 1995, after a 50-year break, we have restored the Khudaferin magazine, the first Azerbaijani edition in Europe. The magazine was published in three languages: Azerbaijani, Polish and English. Using this magazine we tried reaching out the readers with the information about Azerbaijan's political and social history, ancient culture, and the contribution of the country into a fine art, a new period, new independence and its new regime.

We have also established Azer-Pol and Azer-Lex companies in Poland. In 1996, the Polish government estimated the company Azer-Pol as the largest taxpayer.

My most important goal was to unite the Azerbaijanis scattered all over the world, create the organization expressing the unity of our compatriots. In Europe, it is very important to take unanimous decisions in national issues through such associations. Moreover, it is a factor that shows the cultural level of the people and the power of the organization. 

We would like to represent Azerbaijan in Europe through all ways relating to our existence and culture. To do this, we have set up the Araz restaurant offering Azerbaijani national cuisine. Within a short time, this restaurant has become popular in Poland and turned into a popular place for the Poles. Our culinary tastes seem to be somewhat similar with those of the Poles. Just like us, they will never refuse from tasty dishes. So, eating our national dishes while listening to national music, observing the works of our artists on the walls and ancient objects, the locals have become friends of Azerbaijan. In fact, in the Araz restaurant, we represented our culture. We demonstrated our cuisine, music, art, folklore, old clothes, and household. In general, we tried to give a notion of our historical origins to the guests within a few hours. This restaurant was very dear to me; it was not only a source of earnings for me but also something more...

They say the whole world was created by Allah and Holland by the Dutch...

I have lived in Holland since 2000. Many people dream of living in this country. The level of development of the country is at a high level; it does not stand still and continues growing strongly. It’s a very easy place to live. There is a romantic nature and creative people here. They say the whole world was created by Allah and Holland by the Dutch. But unity and commitment of the people are the most revealing and jealousy-provoking. This commitment is manifested in all respects, all directions, even in the application of the legislation. Holland state policy educates citizens as boyars and treats them like the owners of this country. Countries and cities of Europe are a paradise for Azerbaijanis. The laws work here. There is respect to a person; there are opportunities to study and work while obeying the law. One can live as a khan.

But whatever you may say, Karabakh cannot be forgotten

I want to live in Shusha, my family hearth, my homeland. I can find the happiness l've been looking for all my life and cannot find in just one breath of Shusha air. I think that if I once again find myself in the Shusha fortress, once again set foot on this land, I will feel as if born again, all my worries, sadness, sorrow and sickness will leave ... I know I will go ... I know exactly what I need . I really think a lot about Shusha, as much as during the day I think of my three children. I am a restless person and I suffer from it. If children do not pick up the phone for an hour, very bad thoughts crawl into my head, I start worrying much and rushing. As for Shusha ... there is only dumb silence in my soul. No response to any calls, appeals or tears...

Day and night, in my heart a song repeats like a lullaby I heard as a child in Shusha.


Aşıq, ellər ayrısı, (Ashug is pulling the strings)

Şana tellər ayrısı, (A comb fiddles the hair)

Bir gününə dözməzdim, (Unable to stand the date of separation)

Oldum illər ayrısı ... (I parted for many years)



I grew up in Shusha and considered myself as a native of Shusha. All that is so dear to me - my childhood, memories, relationships - all this is connected with Shusha. Over the years, I understand Shusha, feel the height of that environment. Over the years, I increasingly feel like I miss Shusha. This separation, distance do not soothe the wound, but on the contrary, they harrow feelings.

How can I describe Shusha for you?

Shusha was a school of humanity, nobility and aristocracy. After leaving Shusha I travelled the world and my first observation was that one could not hear profanity, obscene expressions in Shusha. Shusha was the only place in the world where playful boys did not use profanity even on the football field. I did not know it back then...

Shusha was a very prosperous town. You could walk alone up until morning with no slightest danger. Nobody asked you what you were doing in the middle of the night. Nothing threatened you. I understood this after seeing other cities of the world...

Then I read such an expression in "Between two fires", the work by Yusif Vezir Chemenzeminli: "On a dark night, in Shusha one may go with a tray with gold, no one will even cast a look at you fearing Shakhmamed".

So, this prosperity had historical roots. Old world order of Karabakh khanate was present in spirituality, morality and behaviour of the inhabitants of Gala (Shusha).

What role in educating a society play state laws written on the base of morals and established to serve the growth of spirituality I realized only later, feeling homesick for Shusha... Nowhere else in the world have I seen such attention and care to the children as in Shusha. It turns out I spent my childhood and youth among these values ​​... I had favourite friends who had worthy fathers and compassionate mothers. These brave men and friendly women always felt that I had no father, but never showed me this with their actions. Most natives of Shusha were descendants of beys and khans (tribal titles). They were very noble and worldly-wise. Shusha residents were very composed; they were not easy to ruffle. But this reticence had its limit. If you violated this limit, you encountered a fearless, brave, a knight looking straight into the eyes of death...



Shusha for me is Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan - Shusha. It is in distress, held captive by enemies. Do you know what it's like when a child is captured before his father's very eyes, but he cannot do anything and there are no ways of salvation? Won't that father fight for the liberation of his child until his last breath? And if he cannot fight, won't he die of anguish?

I am getting increasingly aware that I'm dying alive longing for Shusha...

Only now I realize that at that time i.e. before the Armenian occupation of Shusha, the alienated attitude was manifested towards it. Inhabitants of Shusha were purposefully driven into poverty, the state and the government did nothing for the sake of well-being and prosperity of the town. Over the years, the poverty was even more aggravated.

Ancient buildings, houses of beys and khans, national historical monuments were being rendered into disrepair, not restored, and turned into ruins. It turns out that Kremlin henchmen sitting in Baku prepared Shusha for Armenian occupation.

When I was seven years old, I became the winner of the music festival in Shusha. Then, I felt as if was given the entire world, I was flying without wings. Since I won, I was taken to Khankendi and told I would be sent out to Baku from there for the Republican contest. But as a result, two Armenian children were sent instead of me. I was broken, experienced a shock. I vowed not to sing any longer. Then, Shusha folk instrumental ensemble was deprived of its status and it took up amateur performance. Music festivals were no longer held. Baku gave Shusha to the Armenians who took up residence in Khankendi.

When I was 6-7 years old, we used to play in the mountains and on the slopes of Shusha. At every step, we found shells and put them in pockets. These shells were secret and silent witnesses of the genocide of the local population by the Armenians and Russians. In Shusha, every tree and slope spoke about the past. Residents of Gala also liked talking about the past, the occurred massacres. Though cautiously, but they talked about it not kept silence. When I talked about it to my peers in Baku or other regions of Azerbaijan, they did not believe me, they thought I made up stories. Apparently, without knowing it we got involved in the history... Now, I understand what Armenians undertook back in the 60s to start a provocation. 

I was a child when the news spread out that the Armenians blocked the road Shusha-Khankendi. The reason was that allegedly, the Azerbaijanian teacher raped the Armenian schoolgirl and then killed and hid her on a mow... A criminal case was opened. Then it turned out that there had been neither such a teacher nor a schoolgirl. It was fiction, slander. But even after receiving the proof the Armenians did not calm down and spread the rumour saying the government covers the case, it hides the teacher. A group of Armenian terrorists poured gasoline and set fire to the car transporting prisoners, allegedly to revenge for a non-existent crime. Three Azerbaijani prisoners were burned alive in the car. Then all of Shusha stood up. I was a child but suffered this pain with everybody...

Armenians have always been like that. First, they made up crimes, brainwashed each other, and then believed in their own lies and called for revenge, terrorized. But much later I realized that Moscow staged all these confrontations; idea, instructions, mercenaries and finances came from the Kremlin. We, that is residents of the town of Shusha thought that Moscow was not aware of what was happening, neither was Baku. We sent letters, telegrams, and delegations. We went overboard to prove our truth and innocence to the perpetrators of these crimes. What naivety! Looking at these events with a new outlook being in Europe is so bitter, it is impossible to convey in words...

Shusha was the town of intellectuals, the town of light

In no other our city and even the capital have I seen the urban culture that was in Shusha. The old people here were like living history. They knew about everything in the world, they were worldly-wise. There was wisdom in each of their statements. They were worthy individuals. Shusha was the town of intellectuals, the town of light.

I cannot forget one incident I was told about by the man who worked as a police chief in Shusha. More precisely, I heard it by accident, when he was telling the story. Well, then, it was back in the 70s. Three or four teachers ate and drank together sometimes after school. Then, they began gathering more regularly. One day, somehow they were detained by the police. Chief of police who was there an outsider without understanding of the culture of Shusha decided to punish the teachers by forcing them to sweep the streets.


The police chief announced his decision to the teachers. They did not agree with him, they said they were well-known people, teachers who taught the lessons in the school. They asked him not to be treated like this, not to belittle their dignity, charge them a fine but not to disgrace them. But the chief did not agree and said that he would make them sweep the streets in front of the students so that the teachers no longer commit such acts.

One of the teachers said: "Force me if you can, I'd rather kill myself, but I will not sweep the streets." The dispute ensued. The chief saw that this person was actually going to commit suicide and changed his mind. While in Europe, I see that teachers in Nakhchivan and doctors in Yevlakh are forced to sweep the streets, clean gardens from the weeds. That brings the case back to me and I wonder. If a person does not cave in, no boss, director and government will be able to walk over him. Our people sag to many things. That event seems to me very didactic, it makes wondering, often comes to mind.

The teacher of Shusha, let him stay anonymous because he can be recognized, has made his choice: he'd rather kill himself, but nobody whoever they are, boss or anyone else, will be able to play with his dignity. If I have committed a crime, you can punish me, but you cannot touch my personality, I will choose death but will not let you trample my identity. The teacher's decision to commit suicide forced to retreat arrogant chief of police not knowing a thing of human dignity.

Bad authorities - enemies of human dignity

In Europe, the state acts as the guarantor of a decent life of a citizen.

In Europe, one cannot force teachers to sweep the streets. A teacher can do any work voluntarily: plant trees, spud, clean the weeds in the garden, but making a teacher to sweep the streets as a punishment or as requested by a governor cannot be allowed. If there is such a fool who wants to do it, he will be dragged through the courts his entire life, will go bankrupt with fines, and will be banned from professional activities.

Europe is the guardian of human dignity. Europe protects people who highly value their dignity and respect themselves.

Shusha has taught me to love people.

Shusha was a unique world. I have seen there what an intellectual, a teacher should be like. I have seen there what humanity and friendship are.

Shusha has given and taught me a lot.
Shusha taught me to love the motherland.
Shusha has taught me to fight for my motherland.
Shusha has taught me to love people.
Shusha has taught me to love music, poetry, art, wisdom, humour.
Shusha has taught me how to love children, friends, brothers, countrymen.
Shusha has taught me to love the trees, flowers, and the nightingales sitting upon them.
Shusha has taught me how to love a woman.
Shusha has taught me to fall in love.

The human relationship that I see in Europe, I saw as a child in Shusha. Shusha was a real European city, a city of proud youth, worthy teachers and intelligent people.

Shusha was the legend that fell from heaven…

Elman Mustafazade

Chairman of the "Friends of Azerbaijan" society in Europe