TODAY.AZ / Politics

Azerbaijan mourns Black January Martyrs

20 January 2007 [13:28] - TODAY.AZ
On January 20, people of Azerbaijan commemorate a tragedy, which became a turning point in the nation's struggle for independence from the former Soviet Union and one of the most tragic events in its recent history.

Over the night from 19 to 20-th January, 1990 without preliminary declaration of the state of emergency military units of former Soviet Union were entered into Baku city and some regions of Azerbaijan. The invasion into Baku of a large contingent of Soviet Army units, interior troops and special destination detachments was accompanied by particular cruelty and unprecedented atrocities. Reprisals were inflicted toward peace population, hundreds of people were killed, wounded, missing.

82 men were cruelly killed and 20 men were fatally wounded by military forces before declaration of the state of emergency. After the declaration of the state of emergency on January 20 and the following days another 21 men were killed. In the districts Neftchala and Lenkoran where the state of emergency was not introduced 10 persons were killed on January, 25-26.

In total as a result of illegal entering of troops into Baku city and regions of the republic 133 men were killed, 611 men - wounded, 841 men - illegally arrested and 5 - missing. The soldiers sacked and burnt 200 houses and apartments, 80 automobiles, including ambulance cars, the state and personal property with total worth 5637286 rubles was destroyed. Women, children and old men, as well as ambulance and militia employees also were among the killed persons.

Entering of troops and introduction of the state of emergency in Baku were rough violence of the USSR Constitution (article 119), Constitution of the Azerbaijani SSR (article 71), International Pact "On civil and political rights" of 1966 (article 1) and the sovereign rights of the Azerbaijan Republic.

The illegal declaration of the state of emergency in Baku, invasion of armed forces into the city and severe violence against the peace population with use of heavy equipment and killing weapons under conditions of full lack of any resistance from the population was the crime against the Azerbaijani people.

It was proved that individual military men acting under conditions of the state of emergency implemented inhuman actions that may qualify them according to the Decree of International Military Tribunal, Genevan Conventions on protection of victims of war of 1949, Additional protocols I and II of 1977 to them, and Criminal Code of Azerbaijan as military criminals. In fact all acting international conventions on human rights including Common Declaration on human rights of 1948, International Pact on civil and political rights of 1966, international pact on economic, social and cultural rights of 1966, Final act of Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe of 1975, Final document of Viennese meeting of CSCE of 1989, Declaration on protection of women and children in emergency and armed conflicts of 1974, Convention on child's rights of 1989, acting conventions regulating waging of war, in particular, 4th Hague Convention about the rule and customs of land war of 1967 were violated. The military men shot the people point-blank with particular cruelty, tanks and armored troop-carrier specially rode into cars to kill the people sat in them, fired on the hospitals, prevented medical staff to help to the wounded persons. Personnel of troops finished the wounded persons off, killed by bayonets, use bullets with 5.45 caliber in Kalashnikov submachine gun, which not only wound the man, but increase his suffering and do his death inevitable.

The bloody tragedy took place in Baku in January, 1990 showed anti-national character of totalitarian regime when USSR armed forces were again used not for protection from foreign aggression, but against its own people.

The events took place before the tragedy

The analysis of the measures implemented by party and state bodies, and contradictory process took place in Baku, on the eve of the 20th of January, shows that the January tragedy was the corollary of prepared military operation.

The policy of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union contradicting to interests of the people and directed against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan in the period before January, 20, biased and preconceived line of the Center, inefficient activity of the leaders of Azerbaijan became the main reasons of introduction of the state of emergency in Baku.

This aggression against Azerbaijani people implemented stage by stage: provocations which led to the massacre carried out in the city, weapons were withdrawn even from militia employees under the pretext of population disarmament, etc.

From the end of 1989 right up to the January events additional contingents of internal troops and forces of Soviet Army were sent in Baku. In connection with it various preparatory measures for quartering of military units were taken. In spite of presence in Baku of 110.000 armed security and law-enforcement personnel additional 66.000 soldiers and officers were transferred to Baku among them also were reservists, conscripted for short period in the middle of January, 1990.

The Investigation Commission ascertained that reservists and personnel of units 11.500 strong entered into the city were brought intensive psychological pressure: information about necessity of this action for Russian population protection in Baku which is allegedly annihilated cruelly by the local population was spread, false information about fair amount of snipers and submachine gunner from National Front stationed around the barracks and on the roofs of the houses who will meet the troops with burst of sub-machine gun fire and etc. is reported. Thus, the troops are expected fierce fire and were ready for cruelty. According to the materials of the Investigation Commission there are many persons of Armenian nationality among reservists.

Some days before the events beds in the hospitals in Baku were freed quickly, preparation for receiving quantity of wounded is implemented, members of families of soviet servicemen were evacuated from Baku. Thus, all conditions for implementation of military aggression and troops entering into Baku were created.

The next stage of military operation has become explosion of the power block of the Azerbaijani television and full stopping of broadcasting in the republic on January, 19. Since the day of tragedy the activity of other mass media was suspended and the people was deprived its rights to get information.

For realization of this planned criminal action USSR defense and interior ministers, other high rank military officials and party figures arrived to Baku. In all their speeches they assured that they arrived to Baku to understand the situation and not allow the troops to be entered into the city.

Due to the inefficient activity of local leadership tried to satisfy the central authorities and blindly implement its instructions the situation in the city was beyond the control.

Just in this period during a few months in Baku, other cities and districts mass meetings in connection with unequal attitude of the central authorities of USSR to separative claims of Karabakh Armenians about annexation to the Armenian Republic of the autonomous republic which is the part of Azerbaijan were held. Unclear position of the leadership of USSR in the decision of this issue, undisguised play with Armenians in this issue became the reason of the conflict spreading and led to the mass proscription of the Azerbaijanis from Armenia. About 300.000 Azerbaijanis were subjected to torture and killed with aim to oust them from their own houses, and forced to be refugees and took refuge in the Azerbaijani Republic.

All these inflamed anger of the people, and the demands about the resignation of the leadership of Azerbaijan were made at the mass-meetings . The proposal about introduction of the state of emergency put forward at the meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan on January, 1990 was a result of fear to loose the power. On the basis of this decision on January, 15 1990 Presidium of USSR Supreme Council adopted the Decree "On declaration of the state of emergency in Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast and some other districts." On January, 15 1990 during the visit of chairman of Presidium of the Supreme Council of the Azerbaijani SSR to Moscow under conditions of lack of quorum illegal meeting of Presidium of the Supreme Council of the Azerbaijani SSR was held where the decision about consent on introduction of the state of emergency in Azerbaijan were taken under the pressure of the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan. It again confirms that the tragedy of the 20th January was beforehand planned criminal action.

Decision by Presidium of the USSR Supreme Council "On introduction of the state of emergency in Baku city" violating item 14, article 119 of the USSR Constitution and article 71 of the Constitution of the Azerbaijani SSR, its publication after introduction of the state of emergency and blood shed of hundreds innocent inhabitants of Baku city confirm that this military and political action was open aggression and the crime against the Azerbaijani people committed by the leaders of CPSU, Soviet state and personally Mikhail Gorbachev.

January, 21 1990

The tragedy of January, 20 has evoked anger and indignation of the progressive forces all over the world. The radio stations of many countries broadcasted full information about the January tragedy and damned imperial forces.

In contrast to practice of civilized states, the political leadership of Azerbaijan has not resigned, but it has taken position of silence in this situation. Those tragic days, when the people sacrificed its martyrs, it has not expressed its official attitude to this tragedy, feared anger of the people, did not participate at the funeral ceremony and has not expressed its condolences to the morning people. In these situation the statement of the chairwoman of the Presidium of the Supreme Council has given to the people hope and faith for restoration of the violated rights.

The party authorities of Azerbaijan lost its leader – the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan who feared the anger of the people and with aim to ensure his own security fled to Moscow on the military plane – didn't participate in the organization of the funeral ceremony, assistance to the families of the perished persons and conducting of ritual ceremonies.

In a such situation the leadership of Muslim clergy took great responsibility. On January, 21 1990 the chairman of Clerical Council of Transcaucasian Muslims appealed to the Secretary General of CC of CPSU, the chairman of the Supreme Council of USSR Mikhail Gorbachev to express the will of the people of Azerbaijan that demand immediate withdrawal of the troops from Baku. The copies of this appeal were sent to the UN Secretary General and the heads of the governments and religious communities of the world.

In this period the protest meeting of Azerbaijanis who passed along the streets of Moscow with the black flags to the building of the Central Committee of CPSU to hand the angry letter was held outside the permanent representation of Azerbaijan in Moscow. Former leader of Azerbaijan, member of Politburo of the Central Committee of CPSU, retired deputy chairman of USSR Ministries Council Heydar Aliyev held the press-conference in the permanent representation of Azerbaijan in Moscow where he condemned inhuman action of soviet troops in Azerbaijan.

The city awoke by the night tragedy only in the morning, 6-7 hours after declaration of the state of emergency in Baku, listened the Decree of Gorbachev and the order of the city commandant by the radio. Disorders by troops entered into the city have continued, the people have perished, and these events continued for several days.

January, 22 1990

The extreme session of the Supreme Council of the Azerbaijani SSR held on January, 22 1990 at request of the people and initiative of the group of deputies tried to evaluate the January events and adopted some documents.

The session adopted the Decree of the Supreme Council of the Azerbaijani SSR "On cancellation of martial law in Baku city."

The appeals to the USSR Supreme Council, Supreme Councils of union republics, parliaments of all countries of the world, UN as well as to all nationals and peoples living  in the Azerbaijani SSR also were adopted at this session. Questions about legal evaluation of the events were risen at this session and the deputy investigation commission was created.

On January 22, 1990 the primary party organization of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan excluded Abdurahman Vezirov from CPSU and it rose the question to call him to account for the crimes perpetrated against the Azerbaijani people.

This day Baku bid farewell to the sons and daughters of Azerbaijan perished as a result of the January tragedy. Millions people have gathered at the Lenin square. The funeral procession reached Upland park in Baku – the highest place in the city which was chosen as the place of burial of the victims of this terrible tragedy. They became the heroes for the next generations and the shehids (martyrs) perished for independence of Azerbaijan.

Neither party figures, nor military authorities of the city feared the anger of the people participated at the funeral ceremony. They were participants of this crime and accessories of the entering into Baku of military units of soviet empire because they as top officials have not taken concrete measures and have not provided the safety of the citizens.

Evaluation given by the history

Unfortunately actions of the authorities of Azerbaijan in the following years were directed at the concealment and falsification of the facts. But memory of the people remembers everything, and the history gives its evaluation…

Over the night from 24 to 25-th of January, 1990 Central Committee of Communist Party of Azerbaijan held the plenum devoted to the organizational issues. Under the pressure of the participants of the Plenum question about political situation in the republic also was included in the agenda. The commission chaired by Afrand Dashdamirov was created with aim to investigate of circumstances of introduction in Baku of the state of emergency on January 19-20, 1990. This commission was charged to study all issues connected with introduction of the state of emergency and report at the next plenum.

On March, 31 1991 report about the work of the commission was given at the Plenum of the Central Committee of Communist Party of Azerbaijan and the decision about continuation of its work was taken.

The third session of the Supreme Council of USSR held in March, 1990 instead of giving the evaluation of the January events took place in Baku adopted intricate resolution "On situation in the Azerbaijani SSR and in the Armenian SSR and the measures on normalization of situation in this region." By this resolution the USSR Supreme Council instructed USSR Prosecutor Office, USSR KGB (Committe of the State Security) and USSR Interior Ministry to investigate the crimes committed on January, 20 taking into consideration the results of the work of the deputy investigation commission of the Supreme Council of the Azerbaijani SSR. On December 20, 1990 USSR Military Prosecutor Office not considered actions of military men during the January in Baku as crime, has stopped the investigation. Thus, the Supreme Council of USSR has refused to give political and legal evaluation of the tragedy of the 20th of January.

The deputy investigation commission submitted its conclusion to the Milli Shura (National Assembly) of the Supreme Council of Azerbaijan only two years after the tragedy - after liquidation of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and collapse of the Soviet state.

The evaluation given in this document hasn't met the importance of the tragedy and noted the quilt of the leadership of Soviet state and government that have not already existed, and there was the attempt to pass over in silence the responsibility of the Azerbaijani leadership.

Milli Shura by its decision of January, 19 1992 instead of evaluation of the 20th January events just confirmed the conclusion of the deputy investigation commission and admitted it as satisfactory.

Thus, the tragedy of January, 20 have not been given political and legal evaluation in the decisions of the supreme legislative body of the Azerbaijani Republic.

So far only the Supreme Mejlis (Assembly) of Nakhchivan Autonomous SSR adopted the resolution actually evaluated the events of the 20th of January.

It is necessary to note that the evaluation of the tragedy was not given in 1992-1993, too, when the leaders of the National Front of Azerbaijan who are the direct participants of these events were in power.

Only in 1994 according to the decree of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic Heydar Aliyev "On conducting of the fourth anniversary of the tragedy of January, 20" Milli Mejlis (parliament) after holding special meeting adopted resolution "On tragic events took place in Baku on January, 20 1990" where the events of tragic January, 1990 were given political and legal evaluation for the first time.

This action became turning moment in series of injustices committed by totalitarian communist regime against Azerbaijani people.

The Decrees of the President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev of December, 16 1999 "On the 10th anniversary of the tragedy of January, 1990" and of January, 17 2000 "On awarding of honorary title Shehid (Martyr) of January, 20" (where all the victims of the tragedy are listed) once more showed the deepest respect to the tragic history of our people.

Azerbaijani people remember and revere memory of all fallen heroes who sacrificed their lives for independence and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

May they rest in peace!

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