32 years on: 'Black January,' a Soviet atrocity against the people of Azerbaijan

On 20th January 2022 Azerbaijan marks the 32nd anniversary of the Black January tragedy.

In 1987 anti-Azerbaijani pogroms broke out in Armenia, and Armenians began attacking Azerbaijani villages, killed hundreds of civilians. As a result, 250,000 Azerbaijanis were expelled from Armenia.

Territorial claims of Armenia, armed separatism instigated by radical Armenian nationalists, and mass violence against Azerbaijani population of Armenia supported by the then Soviet leadership, prompted the people of Azerbaijan to stand up for the protection of the territorial integrity of the country, and all these led to mass anti-Soviet protests in Azerbaijan, which soon turned into a national freedom movement.

On January 20th, 1990, under direct instructions from Mikhail Gorbachev, 26,000 Soviet troops without informing the local population of the curfew stormed Baku and other cities of Azerbaijan, massacring the civilian population using heavy military equipment in order to block Azerbaijan’s path to independence and to put down freedom of movement of Azerbaijani people.

As a result, 147 civilians were killed, 744 were seriously injured.

After the return of national leader Heydar Aliyev to political power in Azerbaijan, the tragedy of 20th January received political and legal assessment at the state level. On March 29th, 1994, Azerbaijan’s legislative body Milli Majlis (Parliament) adopted a resolution “On the tragic events committed in Baku on January 20th, 1990”. Since then, the date has been commemorated as National Mourning Day.

Despite the fact that many years have passed since the bloody massacre committed by the Soviet Union in Azerbaijan, the people do not forget the pain of those terrible days, and every year commemorate the martyrs of January 20th with deep respect.

Under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev, the people of Azerbaijan demonstrated their determination, and liberated the Azerbaijani territories from Armenia’s nearly 30-year- long, illegal, U.N.-condemned occupation and restored the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

People of Azerbaijan once again commemorates with deep sorrow and respect the memory of all heroic martyrs who sacrificed their lives for independence of Azerbaijan, and the freedom of its people.

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