18:31 19/01/2016

“This is impossible to forget and to forgive”: A Century-Long Genocide. Black January of Baku film demonstrations in US

Demonstrations of A Century-Long Genocide. Black January of Baku , a documentary film produced in the frameworks of the project An Ordinary Genocide, took place in two US cities – Providence, the capital city Rhode Island, and Hartford, Connecticut – in the days when the Armenians from across the world are commemorating the 26th anniversary of the genocide of Armenians in Baku.

The film is based on the accounts of the eyewitnesses of the events, which unfolded in the Azerbaijani capital between 1988 and 1990, Baku Armenians who currently live in the United States of America. The camera crew of the Ordinary Genocide project went to the US in March 2014 to hold video interviews with them and recorded the accounts of about 50 refugees.

The First Channel (H1, the public TV of Armenia) reports that there were practically no free seats left in the Egavyan hall of the Armenian Church St. Sahag and St. Mesrop in Providence. Katherine Kazarian from Rhode Island Congress; Fr Simeon Odabashian, Vicar of the Eastern Diocese; and Robert Avetisyan, the representative of the NKR Foreign Ministry to the US, who had specially arrived from Washington, were among the more than 100 attendees of the event.

Haykaram Nahapetyan, a journalist who had taken part in the creation of the film, introduced the project An Ordinary Genocide and told those present about the shooting process, which had been conducted in five states with the project manager Marina Grigoryan.

The project An Ordinary Genocide is implemented by the Public Relations and Information Centre of the Administration of the President of the Republic of Armenia. A series of documentaries in five languages was made since November 2009 about the events unfolded in Sumgait, Baku and Maragha and during the Operation Ring. In addition, the website Karabakhrecords was launched, and a number of books were published, republished and translated. Brochures in three languages (Armenian, Russian and English) were also released as a part of the project to provide detailed information about the events presented by An Ordinary Genocide project. 

After the demonstration of the film, the moderator went up to the microphone and asked everyone to stand up and say the Lord’s Prayer. “I have no more words to say after what I saw,” Mr Ara Poghikyan said.

Katherine Kazarian also made a speech hardly holding her tears. “I am a fourth-generation American. Some of my acquaintances, young American Armenians, think that we must forget about the topic of the Genocide and live in the present. But I always answer them that no one but us will fight for justice, as well as against allowing a repetition of the events of 1915 and of January 1990 in Baku. I am shocked at what I saw… There are staged scenes in the film, and even if I understood that there were actors on the screen, those scenes still shocked me, as they are based on the real stories of the survivors of that horror,” Kazarian told the First Channel.

Karen Baghdasaryan, a Baku Armenian originating from Karabakh, highlighted the importance of such films in that the world will know the truth about the genocide of Armenians in Azerbaijan.

Konstantin Petrossian, a composer from Yerevan who has been working in Rhode Island for already several years, said he found it his duty to organise the demonstration of the film. “This is impossible to forget and impossible to forgive,” he said.

Turning to the Baku refuges present at the event, Robert Avetisyan from the Foreign Ministry of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic (Artsakh) said, “You are US citizens, electors, and your MPs count with your opinion. Tell them what the Armenians of Azerbaijan had to go through and what they were forced to experience.”

The Armenian evening in Rhode Island finished with a small concert. An Armenian pianist played the compositions of Komitas and Babajanyan. David Hayryan performed Sayat-Nova’s music on kamancheh.

The next day, the film A Century-Long Genocide. Black January of Baku was demonstrated in the hall of the Armenian Church St. George in Hartford, Connecticut. A part of the shooting was carried out right here almost two years ago. The Baku Armenians, whose accounts are presented in the film among others, were now sitting among the spectators. Valery Ohanov  one of the witnesses in the film, said, “There is not a single day that I live without recalling the events in Baku. This wound will never heal. The God punishes the nonhumans.”

More events including demonstrations of the film are planned to carry out in other US cities in the near future. Marina Grigoryan, the manager of the project An Ordinary genocide, said the project will continue in the current year, as well. A book Baku Tragedy: Eyewitness Accounts is planned to be published; in addition, the authors intend to record new video interviews with refugees from Azerbaijan, currently residing in different countries across the world.

A mass pogrom of Armenian population was committed in Baku from 13 to 19 January 1990 as a culmination of the genocide of the Armenians in Azerbaijan unfolded between 1988 and 1990. After the Sumgait pogroms (26-29 February 1988), persecutions, beatings, particularly cruel killings, public mockeries, pogroms of separate flats, seizure of property, forcible expulsions and illegal dismissals of Armenians started in Baku. Only some 35 or 40 thousand Armenians of the community of 250 thousand remained in Baku by January 1990; they were mainly disabled people, old and sick people and the relatives looking after them. The pogroms took an organised, targeted and mass nature since 13 January 1990. A large amount of evidence exists about the atrocities and killings committed with exceptional cruelty, including gang rapes, burnings of people alive, throwing people out of balconies of higher floors, dismemberments and beheadings.

The exact number of the victims of the genocide of the Armenians in Baku still remains unknown. According to different sources, between 150 and 400 people were murdered, and hundreds were left disabled. The pogroms went on for a week amid a total inaction of the authorities of Azerbaijan and the USSR, as well as the internal troops and the large Baku garrison of the Soviet Army. Those who managed to avoid death were forced into deportation. The Soviet troops were deployed to set order in Baku only on 20 January 1990.

For more detail, visit KarabakhRecords.

Source Panorama.am
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