Politics 16:35 14/01/2017 Armenia

Larisa Alaverdyan on massacres of Armenians in Baku

“The massacres of the Armenians in Baku were committed in three stages which were among series of genocidal actions carried out step by step against the Armenians living in territory of the Soviet Azerbaijan,” Head of the Foundation against Violation of Law NGO Larisa Alaverdyan noted the aforesaid during the interview conducted by Panorama.am.

She reminded that the massacres of Armenians in Sumgait committed at the end of February 1988 took place after the announcement made by Mikhail Gorbachev during the meeting with prominent Armenian intellectuals Silva Kaputikyan and Zori Balayan making a promise to tackle the Karabakh issue. “On the very day when people were called on to return to their houses being promised quick settlement of the issue, the Sumgait massacres began. Well-known Russian publicist Andrei Nuykin has clearly stated that the massacres of Sumgait should have been an alert not only for the Armenians living in Sumgait but also for the entire Armenian community in the Soviet Azerbaijan. However the Armenians did not realise it. They thought that the issue was temporary and believed that the actions were committed by hooligans. Thus they did not abandon over 300 neighbourhoods they were living in,” she noted.

L. Alaverdyan states that first stage of Baku massacres took place in the fall of 1988 resulting to the largest wave of refugees.

The time chosen for the atrocities against the Armenians was again based on political incidents, as the trial of one of the murderers of Sumgait massacres was underway in Moscow at that time and the Azerbaijani citizens already glorified those murderers.

“At the end of October and in November 1988 a total of 200.000 Armenians fled from Baku to Armenia and to other Soviet countries. Later some groups of Armenians went back to Azerbaijan following the urges made by the Secretary of the Central Committee of Soviet Azerbaijan Vezirov. However as the Azerbaijani authorities aimed at carrying out ethnic cleansing of the Armenians in the summer of 1989 the second stage of Baku massacres took place taking extremely cruel forms in august. A new wave of refugees unleashed mainly into Armenia.

The third stage of Baku massacres was held on 13-20 January 1990_ the time when the Armenians were celebrating the Old New Year and the Feast of Naming Jesus Christ.
This was the third stage of Baku massacres but when we are talking about the massacres of the Armenians living across the territory of the Soviet Azerbaijani it must be stated that a fourth and fifth stages were registered as well, when the war had already broken out.

We all must realise that the atrocities against the Armenians committed by Azerbaijan were planned crime of genocide implemented in a step-by-step manner. Until now we keep calling them massacres, murders, however they were based on the same policy run by Turkey in 1915. Azerbaijani initiated a program aimed at practising ethnic cleansing of the Armenians and culminating the genocide started in Turkey.

This is the whole point which is missed for some reason. We consider those atrocities as separate actions, whereas I repeat myself that it was a carefully planned and organized crime which was not different from the genocide committed by the Turkish authorities,” she noted.

Asked whether Armenia has managed to completely present those activities to the international community she noted the following: “Not at all. From the very beginning the Armenian authorities have adopted a policy not to politicise the issues of the refugees. However they were not only refuges, but also people who have been forced to leave their homes and hardly survived the massacres. Recently one of our high ranking officials made a statement claiming that Armenia does not politicise the issue of the refugees.

Why is it so? As an advocate I support the humanitarian policy run towards the refugees or the displaced people. However this is only one element for their support. The other thing refers to the rights of the refugees regardless of the fact whether they have been granted citizenship of a country or not.

Many people, including many experts spread misconception that if the refugees are granted citizenship of Armenia they abandon their demands. It is untrue information. The international law on refugees prescribes that the refugee-hosting country undertakes certain responsibilities committing to provide them with priorities like house, job and integration with the assistance of the international organizations. However it does not deprive the refugees of their claims to return to their former places of residence and to get back all the property (material and non-material) confiscated or forcibly seized from them.

For years the Minsk group and the Co-Chairs have repeatedly spoken about the return of the Azerbaijani people to the liberated areas, however the Armenian authorities have never voiced such an issue regarding the rights of the Armenians who abandoned their houses in Azerbaijan. Who is going to defend their rights or how their lost property can be replaced?”

In the advocate’s words it is right time to voice all those issues. “Today it is especially the right time to voice them as Azerbaijan overtly competes with Islamic State terror organisation. We can compare Azerbaijan’s activities only with those of ISIS and sometimes giving the lead to the former in terms of its forms of murders and statements. There is no other country that runs a racist policy and propaganda in a consistent manner for many years. This issues have never been voiced within any political discussions. We have not adopted any serious decision condemning Azerbaijan for such a policy. European Union, certain commission within the Council of Europe and NGOs have issued some statements but the anti-Armenian policy of Azerbaijan has never received a serious condemnation.

The Azerbaijani people are the first victims of this policy, as they suffer the way the Germans suffered as a result of the Nazi policy. We are well aware where Hitler’s policy led to the German people. Our adversary has adopted the same policy and we, for some reason, boast that we do not politicize the issue of refugees. They are not refugees but Armenians who were subjected to genocide. It is high time that we opened our cards,” she concluded.

Notably, 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.

Source Panorama.am
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