Dr. Fakhri Jabrayilov, 54, was far from the fighting when the second Karabakh war broke out in September.
Fakhri, an ethnic Azerbaijani and intensive care specialist who has been living in Turkey since 2003, was at home in Istanbul when he heard the news. Before long he found himself on the frontlines, however, treating soldiers from both sides of the conflict.
“I saw savagery, I saw the highest level of savagery in the war. Man does his best to destroy man, and he destroys not only man, but nature, all living things, insects, and everything created by God. War was the last thing that happened to humanity,” he said.
“People who are torn apart... Imagine that a person has a hand, a leg, a heart, but no face, a person had a hand, a face, a heart, but no legs.”
A (formerly) displaced family
This was not Fakhri’s first war.
A native of Lachin, Fakhri and his family were displaced during the first war (from 1988-1994).
Before the first war, Fakhri graduated from high school and entered Azerbaijan Medical University. Five years later, during the 1988 events in Sumgayit, he worked as a nurse at a hospital.
“We did our best to help the wounded Armenians brought to the hospital. I also served our patients and wounded during the events of January 20, 1990. I have gone through all these difficult periods,” Fakhri said.
The period following the first war was painful for Fakhri and his family: they were forced to abandon their home and seek shelter in Baku.
“We left everything there. There were 17 of us living in one house in Baku. We did not go hungry, but our lives changed from beginning to end,” he said.
“But in Baku, even though we were in our own country, we were labelled as refugees. ‘They left their homes’, ‘ran away’ and ‘were afraid’ – those are what we heard from our own people. People judged us without knowing the truth.”
Fakhri said when he learned Lachin had been reclaimed by Azerbaijan, it felt like a “heavy burden lifted.”
“I remembered my relatives who died before seeing their homes in Lachin. I felt their spirits rejoice. I will be able to return to our mountains again,” he said.
“We did not need a war. We lived side by side in both Armenia and Azerbaijan, we needed them, they needed us… If there had never been a war, both countries would be much richer and more perfect, and we would be able to do great things together.”