TODAY.AZ / Voice of Diaspora

US Azerbaijani and Turkish Diasporas send letters to the Congress asking to commemorate the January 20 victims with a minute of silence

11 January 2011 [12:20] - TODAY.AZ
Azerbaijani and Turkish Diasporas in the US have started a new campaign by sending hundreds of letters to the Congress Members in order to appeal their attention the 21st anniversary of the "Black January" that marked the beginning of the end of Soviet rule in Azerbaijan, APA’s Washington DC correspondent reports.

The Diaspora asks the Congress support by also commemorating the victims with a minute of silence and statement for the record.

"On the night of January 19-20, 1990, sovereign Azerbaijan was invaded by 26,000 Soviet troops pursuant to a state of emergency. A courageous resistance by Azerbaijanis to the Soviet invasion continued into February. Eventually, 170 Azerbaijanis were killed, 321 disappeared (their bodies were never recovered), over 700 wounded, and still hundreds more were rounded up and detained. In a report titled "Black January in Azerbaijan", Human Rights Watch put the events into a larger perspective: "the violence used by the Soviet Army on the night of January 19-20 was so out of proportion to the resistance offered by Azerbaijanis as to constitute an exercise in collective punishment", says the letter.

According to the authors, the Soviet attack against innocent civilians in Azerbaijan followed massacres in other Soviet republics, including Kazakhstan in 1986 and Georgia in 1989 and was tragically replicated one year later in Lithuania, although the brutality of the "Black January" tragedy was the biggest exercise in collective punishment by reactionary forces of the Communist Party.

"The terrible event remembered by this commemoration was an atrocity--but it also gave birth to a hope that led eventually to independence and freedom the following year. Years later, there is no sign of "Black January" declining in significance. Millions of Azerbaijanis and friends of Azerbaijan visit Martyrs’ Alley in the Azeri capital, Baku on January 20th to pay tribute to the memory of their compatriots who laid their lives for the country’s independence. They lay flowers on the graves of the victims and the nation’s commitment to independence, democracy, and freedom is renewed", the letters sent to the US legislators mention.


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