Politics 17:04 27/02/2017 Region

In Sumgait, Azerbaijanis killed Armenians, who had built that young industrial city, professor says

In Sumgait, Azerbaijanis killed Armenians, who had built that young industrial city, professor says

Prolonged conflicts lead to destabilization. Besides, misleading information or the so-called rewriting the history also contributes to conflicts. The Karabakh conflict is an example of a prolonged conflict. Baku tragic events in January 1990 – the Armenian pogroms accompanied by mass violence against the Armenian population, robberies, killings, arsons, and destruction of property – marked the beginning of the conflict, Lithuanian Russian language radio program LRT informs.

The reporter Olga Ugryumova reminds that according to Human Rights Watch speaker Robert Kushen, the Baku pogroms were not spontaneous, as their perpetrators had the list and names of the Armenians.

On January 18, 1990, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution on the situation in Armenia calling the European Council on Foreign Relations and the Council of Europe to intercede for the Armenians before the Soviet government and requiring to provide immediate assistance to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.

The same day, a group of American senators sent a joint letter to president Mikhail Gorbachev expressing concern over the pogroms of the Armenians in Baku and calling to reunite Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia.

On July 20, 1990, an open letter to the international community was published in New York Times. In the letter, intellectuals expressed their protest against the pogroms of the Armenians in the territory of the Azerbaijan SSR making a parallel with the Armenian Genocide. Intellectuals urged to prevent immediately the pogroms of the Armenians, as well as condemned the blockade of Armenia by Azerbaijan. 133 well known human rights defenders, scientists, and public figures from Europe, Canada, and the USA signed the letter.
The reporter of the program notes that after a long period of time, the Azerbaijani government and media, as well as international media present quite a different picture. Professor of Yerevan State University, PhD in political science Alexander Manasyan commented on the situation.

“You have raised a very important question. The issue is politicized not only by Azerbaijan, but as you mentioned, also by several western circles,” Manasyan said emphasizing that the politicization does not give the opportunity to tell the truth and show the objective reality.

The professor noted that January 1990 is included in Azerbaijan’s political calendar as “black January.” That “label of tragedy” has been weight out for more than a quarter of a century.

What was happening in Baku in the first days of the 20th century’s last decade? Why that month was named “black” in Baku? Manasyan emphasized that the events cannot be interpreted in isolation from the historical context. This is the period of the collapse of the USSR, which was marked by events in the Nagorno-Karabakh significant for the history of the Soviet Empire. Nagorno-Karabakh was an autonomous Armenian region created on the Armenian lands, which had been handed to Soviet Azerbaijan.

On February 20, 1988, Armenia raised the question of including the region in the Armenian SSR. NKAO Council of Peoples’ Deputies’ decision was made in form of an appeal and petition to the Supreme Councils of the Azerbaijani SSR, Armenian SSR, and the USSR in order to discuss the issue and make a positive decision. In a week, in response to the political petition, unprecedented events, which shocked the USSR nations, took place in Sumgait – 25 km away from Baku. The devastated crowd organized by the authorities in Baku began the massacre of the innocent Armenians according to addresses and lists chosen beforehand. The professor emphasizes that it could not happen without the authorities’ permission, which found its confirmation in the Center’s behavior and subsequent events in the Azerbaijan SSR.

“The genocidal act took place in Sumgait against people, who had created that young industrial city and were in no way involved in the Karabakh movement. The Center not only avoided to call things by their proper name, but also stated that the events were the result of the Sumgait youth assaults, who were allegedly in ‘difficult social conditions.’ In Baku, it was perceived as a justification of the vandalism acts, and the authorities gave permission to continue in the same spirit,” Manasyan stated.

In the political scientist’s opinion, Karabakh was chosen as a detonator, a trigger of the project of the USSR collapse. He noted that the survey on the links between the USSR collapse project and January 1990 events in Baku needs a more detailed study.

“Sumgait’s genocidal act directly worked for the USSR collapse. I remember how the USSR nations, especially Baltic people, reacted to the tragedy of the Armenian nation, which showed that ‘the great and all-powerful nuclear country (USSR)’ had no force to protect its citizens’ physical security. Pogroms of the Armenians followed almost throughout the whole territory of Azerbaijan. Only the Armenians in Karabakh, who had centuries-old history of such experience, could show an organized resistance to the vandals,” the professor highlighted.

On 26-29 February 1988 in terms of actual complicity of local authorities and inaction of the USSR government mass pogroms of civilians were organized in Sumgait city of Azerbaijani SSR, accompanied with unprecedented brutal murders, violence and pillaging against the Armenian population of the city. Armenian pogroms in Sumgait were carefully organized. At the meetings, which began on February 26 in the central square, city leaders openly called for violence against the Armenians.

On February 27 protests which were attended by hundreds of rioters turned into violence. Armed with axes, knives, specially sharpened rebar, rocks and cans of gasoline and with the pre-compiled lists of apartments where Armenians lived the rioters broke into the houses, turning everything upside down there and killing the owners. In the same time, people were often taken out to the streets or to the courtyard for jeering at them publicly. After painful humiliations and torture the victims were doused with gasoline and burnt alive. On February 29 army troops entered Sumgait but without an order to intervene. Only in the evening, when the mad crowd began to attack the soldiers the military units took up decisive steps.

The exact number of victims of Sumgait pogroms is still unknown. According to official data, 27 Armenians were killed; however there is ample evidence that several hundred Armenians have been killed in the city in three days. There is also evidence that the riots were coordinated by the Azerbaijani KGB. Executioners of Sumgait were subsequently declared as national heroes of Azerbaijan.

Documentary “Ordinary Genocide: Sumgait 1988.”

Source Panorama.am
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