Spring 1994 (2.1)

Letter to the Editor
Gultakin Shakaraliyeva

Azerbaijan International's staff visited Mamerly Village in October. When the refugees learned of our magazine, they asked how to write us. Gultakin Shakaraliyeva gave her letter to an international relief doctor who routinely visited her camp. He, in turn, faxed her letter from Baku. Gultakin's family is pictured in Self Portraits 1.

How are you? As for us, we're all right so far. I hope you are, too.

My name is Gultakin. You know the forest where we live. We would never have thought of coming to the forest to live. We could never imagine that Agdam with 60,000 people could have been captured. For five years, it was under fire and flame. Now we're forced to suffer from the Armenians' brutality. I don't know when we'll breathe freely. I'm only 16 but I can't say whether I am destined to experience such a moment or not.

As I write this letter, everybody is staring at me. My tears are running down like raindrops. On June 14, the Armenians began a large-scale attack on Agdam and its villages. They entered our village when the civilians were sleeping. Some of the people were forced to leave barefoot without clothes.

Then our awful days began. Some of us settled on the sides of roads; some under the sun; and some like my family in the forest. Leaving our native lands and settling in the forest depresses us. We think of our homes all time.

I was doing so well with my studies at school. I spent my leisure reading books, and watching TV. But there are no books now. When I think of my books, I cry. At night, we gather together and talk about our native lands. The children talk about what they've gone through and the heroes who died defending our village.

But the thing that troubles me most in not being able to study. Armenians destroyed our school - the center of learning - right in front of our eyes. Our school was built in 1937 and the teachers had taught lessons there even during World War II. They always taught us about the horrors of war.

Well, that's all. Thank you for coming from the other side of the ocean. We'll never forget you.

Gultakin Shakaraliyeva
Living in the forests near Barda, Azerbaijan, October 13, 1993

From Azerbaijan International (2.1) Spring 1994.

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