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Remembering Gurgen Margaryan, Who Was Murdered in His Sleep by an Azerbaijani with an Ax

Remembering Gurgen Margaryan, Who Was Murdered in His Sleep by an Azerbaijani with an Axe

On this day 20 years ago, Armenian army officer Gurgen Margaryan was brutally murdered in his sleep by an Azerbaijani man with an ax in Hungary.

Two decades ago in a horrific incident that shook the NATO-sponsored "Partnership for Peace" program in Budapest, Hungary.

Lieutenant Gurgen Margaryan, just 26 years old, was tragically hacked to death in his sleep on February 19, 2004, by Ramil Safarov, a lieutenant of the Azerbaijani army. Both officers were participants in an English language training course, and the incident occurred within the seemingly peaceful confines of their shared dormitory.

Gurgen's Hungarian roommate, Kuti Balash, vividly recalls the events leading up to the tragedy. The night before the murder, Gurgen was diligently working on his homework while Balash watched a football match between Armenia and Hungary. Despite diverse nationalities among the program participants, there were no conflicts, and discussions about international issues were minimal.

On the fateful night, after Balash retired to bed due to a fever, Gurgen visited another program participant's room. Little did anyone know that this ordinary night would turn into a nightmare.

In the early morning hours, Balash was startled awake by the flickering light in the room. To his horror, he witnessed Ramil Safarov standing beside Gurgen's bed, wielding a long axe. Shocked and fearing for his life, Balash pleaded with Safarov to stop the brutality. However, the assailant showed no mercy, inflicting fatal wounds on Gurgen before callously leaving the room.

The aftermath revealed that the murder was not a result of personal conflicts between Gurgen and Ramil but a premeditated act. Safarov, immediately after killing Gurgen, sought out another Armenian officer, Hayk Makuchyan, intending to continue his violent spree.

Makuchyan's door became the next target, but a fortunate twist of fate prevented another tragedy. Safarov, unable to open the locked door, resorted to shouting threats. The Lithuanian roommate, realizing the danger, intervened and saved Hayk for the second time that night. The Lithuanian's quick thinking and a subsequent call to another compatriot averted further bloodshed.

Ramil Safarov was sentenced to life in prison in Hungary for Gurgen Margaryan's murder. However, in a shocking turn of events in August 2012, he was extradited to Azerbaijan, allegedly to serve his sentence. To the dismay of many, Safarov was welcomed as a hero and pardoned by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

As we mark the 20th anniversary of Gurgen Margaryan's tragic death, let us not forget the Armenophobia instilled in Azerbaijanis. The lengths that Azerbiajanis will go to murder an Armenian. The impact of this senseless act of violence continues until today as echoes of violence and hatred towards Armenians rings through from Turkey and Azerbaijan.  


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