The massacre committed against the civilian population, who struggled for freedom, sovereignty, independence, as if happened yesterday.
People will never forget that day. Every year, thousands of our compatriots visit the Alley of Martyrs in Baku, which is the highest holy place for all of us, pay tribute to brave sons and daughters who stood up staunchly for the sake of independence, and lay fresh flowers in front of the graves.
Paying tribute to the memory of our martyrs is one of priority areas maintained in the spotlight of the state. The approval of action plan for holding the 28th anniversary of the 20 January tragedy by the order of the head of the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan is a good example.
The document provides organization of conferences, meetings and lectures in cities and regions of the country, including in departments and organizations, in connection with 20 January, demonstrating spectacles in cultural centers dedicated to the tragedy, demonstration of feature and documentary films, the extensive media coverage of these events, the implementation of appropriate measures through Azerbaijan’s foreign diplomatic missions in order to draw the world community’s attention to the tragedy, promotion of materials on 20 January in leading media, as well as television and internet networks.
According to the action plan, a special lesson will be devoted to the tragedy in all educational institutions of the country, humanitarian assistance will be provided to the families of those killed during the events of 20 January, necessary work will be carried out in the territory of the Alley of Martyrs, religious ceremonies to commemorate the victims of the tragedy by major religious confessions and institutions.
In addition, the order also envisages the organization of the visit of the public to the Alley of Martyrs on January 20, observance a minute of silence in memory of victims martyrs throughout the country at 12:00, providing sound signals of boats, vehicles and trains, playing mourning music at the Alley of Martyrs during a day, lowering of national flags as a sign of mourning in cities and regions, villages and settlements of the republic and other measures.
The massacre committed against the Azerbaijani people caused serious concern in all countries and the world’s leading media outlets have published many articles on the tragedy regularly.
But what was the main reason for committing the genocide 20 January? Why did the Soviet leadership who was armed from head to foot with most modern weapons committed this bloody tragedy?
At that time the former Soviet Union’s sowing seeds of ethnic discrimination reached its peak. Annexation of part of our lands to Armenia, finally, giving Nagorny Karabakh, the integral part of Azerbaijan to Armenia as a gift exhausted our people’s patience. In the late 1980s, social and political situation in Azerbaijan became dramatic. The processes taking place in the former Soviet Union, the failure of reconstruction policy of the country’s leadership, failure in economic reforms, serious mistakes in the field of national policy caused prevalence of the national liberation movement in Azerbaijan.
One of the main reasons for the escalation of socio-political situation in the region was territorial claims made by Armenia against Azerbaijan. Land claims made and the crimes committed against civilian population by Armenians, who backed by supporters in the management of the Soviet Union, caused the anger of our people. In 1988, national liberation movement took place in connection with the conflict Nagorny Karabakh caused serious concern of the leadership of the Soviet Union with its greatness and principality.
This event further strengthened Azerbaijani people’s struggle for independence, and these processes resulted in the country’s freedom. January 20 is the beginning of the democratic movement in the former socialist countries.
In our country, the struggle for national liberation started with demonstrations and rallies in protest to the Armenian separatism in Nagorny Karabakh, which is an integral part of Azerbaijan, and forcibly expelling over 230 thousand Azerbaijanis from their ancestral lands in Armenia. In the demonstrations and rallies, Azerbaijani people demanded the leadership of the former Soviet republic and its representatives in our country to put an end to the illegal actions of Armenians and punish ideologues and executors of the conflict. Mass rallies were increasing day by day and it began to shake up the Kremlin. The union did not want to give up the leadership of the pro-Armenian position, however, rose to the defense of them with different ways. Azerbaijanis were forcibly expelled from their native lands, their houses were destroyed or forcibly taken away from them, were insulted, subjected to torture and murder. The isolated Azerbaijani people took to the streets and squares, demanded to put an end to this injustice and discrimination. At that time, one of the factors aggravating the socio-political situation in the country was incompetence, cowardice of the persons represented in the leadership of the country and their obedience to Moscow. Their being far away from national interests and inability of those considering themselves as leader of the people to predict the course of events people considerably promoted the position to reach this level.
Azerbaijan became a field of fighting for holding a position in the leadership. Lawlessness and chaos in the country gave an opportunity to the leadership of the USSR, in particular, the main organizers of the conflict Mikhail Gorbachev and its agent in Azerbaijan Abdurrahman Vazirov to commit a variety of diversions. In early January 1990, security forces of the former Soviet Union with the close help of local emissaries committed various disorders in Baku. The diversions planned in advance gave key grounds to Gorbachev’s authority for deploying troops in Baku. On the night from 19 to 20 January 1990, the units of the former Soviet army, armed with the most advanced combat techniques, committed a terrible and bloody crime. They opened fire on civilian population gathered in streets and squares for the restoration of their rights, as well as freedom and independence. Specially trained soldiers did not even have mercy on the old and even children. As a result, on that night 131 our compatriots were killed ruthlessly, more than 744 people were injured, hundreds of people were arrested.
At that time, Azerbaijan was in the information blockade. Azerbaijan TV power unit was blown up shortly before the terrible tragedy. Radio did not work, newspapers were not published and at the time leadership of USSR tried to provide distorted information to the public about the tragedy. The international community was unaware of the bloody and ominous incident that took place. During such serious and ominous times, despite the pressure and persecution the patriotic son of our people, our great leader Heydar Aliyev who was kept under control in Moscow, on January 21 along with his son and associate Ilham Aliyev came to Azerbaijani representation in Moscow, made a statement condemning the bloody crime committed in Baku by the Soviet army. Heydar Aliyev demanded to punish all perpetrators of the tragedy, and on the same day he sent a telegram to Azerbaijan’s Central Committee of the Communist Party, Supreme Soviet and the Council of Ministers. The great leader Heydar Aliyev and his son Ilham Aliyev, first of all, demonstrated citizenship and national position before their homeland and the people. National leader Heydar Aliyev’s statement dated January 21, 1990 was the first political assessment given to the tragedy in Moscow.
The issue became a current issue after national leader Heydar Aliyev returned to power at the request of the people. Significant steps were taken to assess the 20 January events properly. On November 21, 1990, the Supreme Assembly of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic adopted an epoch-making decision in connection with the 20 January tragedy under the leadership of great political figure Heydar Aliyev. Returning to power at the people’s request in June 1993, the national leader first visited the Alley of Martyrs. He gave instructions on the spot in a short period of time to build the graves of all martyrs properly and to erect a memorial complex here. For this, necessary funds were allocated at the state level and it was completed in a short time. 20 January was declared National Day of Mourning by the order of the great leader.
The memorial complex was erected in honor of the martyrs of the homeland. Since then the Alley of Martyrs became a holy place of our people, turned into a shrine.
President Ilham Aliyev who is successfully continuing the political course of the great leader, put forward as one of the sensitive issues to address at the state level the problems of those who sacrificed their lives for freedom of our motherland and the territorial integrity, war veterans, families of martyrs, disabled. Measures are being taken in this direction in our country, social welfare of families of martyrs and the disabled is further strengthening from year to year.
The Order of the President on the reconstruction of the Alley of Martyrs is another example of respect for the memory of our martyrs. On January 19, 2006 the head of state issued a decree “on founding of pension of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan” for families of the 20 January martyrs. In recent years, individual and dwelling housed are built in the country at the expense of the state to improve housing of the disabled and families of martyrs.
Heydar Aliyev Foundation, which implemented projects in all areas, was met with satisfaction with the mission of kindness not only in our country, even is in the spotlight of the world, and its President Mehriban Aliyeva takes great care to the problems of war veterans, families of martyrs and the disabled. The Foundation is working towards the restoration of their health, to perpetuate the memory of the martyrs of 20 January, to solve the problems of the families of tragedy victims. The measures taken in this direction by Vice-President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation, chairman of the Azerbaijani Youth Organization of Russia Leyla Aliyeva, has high values. Namely on her initiative books, booklets, albums on the Garabagh conflict, our nation’s historical memory were published, films were made by Heydar Aliyev Foundation.
Our people marks the 28th anniversary of the 20 January, commemorate the cherished memories of brave sons and daughters who sacrificed their lives for the cause of independence, freedom of our motherland. This appreciation also shows and expresses hope for the victory in Garabakh.
Statement of the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Islamic Republic of Iran