31 years pass since 20 January tragedy written in blood to Azerbaijan’s independence history

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, tens of 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 30th 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 embassies, diplomatic missions, diaspora institutions and communities 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 articles on the tragedy regularly. Newspapers “Daily Times”, “Navai Vakt”, “The News”, “Pakistan Observer”, “National Herald Tribune”, “Jahan Pakistan”, “Dunya”, “Khabrian”, “Statestimes” newspapers, “Diplomatic Star”, “Centreline” journals”, “DNA News”, “Naibaat”, “UNN Pakistan” news agencies, the Lebanese “Al-Republican” newspaper,  “The Guardian”, in the media of Turkey and other countries  have published articles “Azerbaijan  commemorates Black January”


Well-known public and political figures from around the world called the 20 January  tragedy against democracy, justice,  have criticized the perpetrators of this tragedy. US Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo’s  ideas attract attention in this regard. Speaking  on this tragedy in the Congress, the congresswoman issued a statement on January 20, calling this event  as the beginning of  the democratic movement in the  former socialist countries.

M. Bordallo noted the existence of  widespread national liberation movement on the eve of  the 20  January,  saying thousands of Soviet troops  committed the massacre to prevent the movement in Baku. This event, in turn, further strengthened Azerbaijani people’s struggle for independence, and these processes resulted in the country's freedom, she stressed.

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  Daghlig Garabagh, 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, as well as all republics.

One of the main reasons for the escalation of socio-political situation in the  region was territorial claims made by Armenia against Azerbaijan, the so-called “Daghlig Garabagh” problem.

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  Daghlig Garabagh  caused serious concern of the leadership of the Soviet Union with its  greatness and  principality.

In our country, the struggle for national liberation started  with demonstrations and rallies in protest  to the Armenian separatism in Daghlig Garabagh, which is an integral part of Azerbaijan, and  forcibly expelling  over 300 thousand Azerbaijanis from Western Azerbaijan, their ancestral lands, ancient Turkish lands. 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, they 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, in fact, 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 very 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 tuthlessly, more than 700 people were injured, 321 people went missing, hundreds of people were arrested, became cripple for life.

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. At the time, faceless and corrupt leaders represented in the Azerbaijani government  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 Heydar Aliyev  sent a telegram to Azerbaijan’s  Central Committee of the Communist Party,   Supreme Soviet and the Council of Ministers.

At a time when the USSR  reigned,  to criticize the head of the  Kremlin in the capital, really, required great valor and courage. 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. A legal assessment was given to this tragedy during Heydar Aliyev’s leadership the independent Azerbaijan. 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. Heydar Aliyev 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 30th 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 Garabagh.