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The Statement of the Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman) of the Republic of Azerbaijan on the 22th Anniversary of the Tragedy of January 20, 1990.
The Statement

As the years have passed since January 20, 1990 different aspects, the essence of that bloody event, identity and the aims of the perpetrators become much clearer.

At the night from 19 to 20 January 1990 armoured vehicles, military forces, entered Baku city, Sumgayit, different regions of Azerbaijan without any prior notification. As a result the norms of international law, relevant provisions of the Constitutions of former USSR and Azerbaijan SSR were grossly violated. Our nation who protested against never ending territorial claims of Armenian nationalist against Azerbaijan Republic and fought for their land, were subjected to special cruelty and torments.

As a result of special military operation held following the Orders of the leaders of the USSR, the military forces entering Baku from different directions killed 132 civilians with special cruelty regardless their nationality, age and sex. In the capital, surrounding settlements, and districts 612 innocent persons were injured, hundreds of persons went missing, 841 persons were imprisoned unlawfully.

Baku reminding front-line, being under siege, and surrounded with military forces and vehicles was destroyed, hundreds unarmed, peaceful persons including women, elderly, and children were annihilated, administrative buildings, houses and transport facilities were seriously damaged. In order to conceal committed savagery the exact number of the killed persons, inhuman war criminals annihilated even their corpses.

During the attack prohibited weapons and supplies were used. Soldiers, who lost their sense of mercy, killed seriously wounded persons on spot. Even ambulance cars and doctors were fired at; medical servants were injured and killed.

22 years have passed since the terrible day which was the part of the genocide policy of Soviet Empire against Azerbaijan, resulted in gross violation of human rights and freedoms and remained in the history as 20 January tragedy. This tragedy that was one of the most terrible acts of violence, torture, inhuman treatment committed against humanity in the XX century engraved in memory of our nation forever.

Soviet Union leaders who carried out “perestroika” policy, committed unprecedented military aggression against Azerbaijan, grossly violated the supreme right of persons – the right to live, breaking the norms of international law. This terrible event was the beginning of the organized terror policy and one of the gravest blows among the terror acts committed against the Azerbaijani people. By committing this crime Soviet Empire supported uncontrolled political forces of Armenia. As a result, Armenian long term aggression, ethnic cleansing policy, massacres were committed against Azerbaijanis, twenty percent of the country territory was occupied, more than one million people became refugees and IDPs in their own country being withdrawn from Armenia, Nagorny Karabakh and seven surrounding rayons of Azerbaijan.

The savagery committed by the state against its citizens committed by the Empire with the intention of affirming its dictatorship in Azerbaijan gave contrary result and strengthened the persistent struggle of our nation for the independence.

In his sharp statement National Leader Heydar Aliyev demanded to give political appraisal to the crimes committed in Baku and to punish perpetrators yet on January 21, 1990. With the recommendation of the National Leader who proclaimed that date as the Day of National Mourning, the Azerbaijan Parliament (Milli Majlis) for the first time gave the official, political and legal assessment to this event and declared that this tragedy was against struggle for freedom and independence of the Azerbaijani people.

Every year 20 January is marked as the Day of National Mourning and the Azerbaijanis recall heroism of courageous sons of our nation with respect. Plan of Actions with regard to conduction of series of relevant events in capital and regions was approved this year as well. According to Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the honorary title of “Martyrs of January 20” was conferred on victims of the tragedy for the outstanding example of heroism. According to the relevant Decree “On improving state care for the persons who became disabled as a result of the events of January 20, 1990”, the monthly allocations for them have been raised and this care is being continued.

President Ilham Aliyev who successfully continues the political course of National Leader, attaches special attention to honouring 20 January martyrs and to solution of social problems of their family members. The persons who became disabled during this tragedy are provided with relevant allocations from State Social Protection Foundation annual budget, as well as with the presidential pensions in accordance with the Presidential Decree from 19 January, 2011.

Our Diaspora organizations in Europe and worldwide also organize different actions, ceremonies, commemoration events to draw the attention of international community to the January 20 tragedy and to the realities of Azerbaijan in whole.

Azerbaijan and Turkish Diasporas in USA addressed a letter to Congress, drawing the attention to 20 January tragedy asked to commemorate the victims of the tragedy.

Mayor of Washington Vincent Gray issued statement on the anniversary of the slaughter committed in Azerbaijan on January 20, 1990 and on commemorating martyrs.

The victims of the tragedy were buried in the Martyrs Alleys in Baku and in regions of the country that became a holy place and sanctuary for us.

Our nation don’t forget the unity demonstrated by the tragedy victims who fought for the national independence and will further strengthen the solidarity of the Azerbaijanis now and in future for sustainable development, solution of prior problems of our country, the Rule of Law, democratization, protection of human rights in the name of powerful Azerbaijan.

One of the main achievements of modern international law was the raising protection of human rights and freedoms to the level of international cooperation, and creation of international maintenance in this regard. Thus, human rights exceed the boundaries of internal power of states and attain international importance. The principles of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other International Acts on Human Rights were violated as a result of crime committed against civil population on January 20, 2009.

Tragedy of January 20 is terrible crime among the terror acts resulted in mass annihilation of people according to its essence and scale. Nevertheless, international legal appraisal was not given to this bloody tragedy till now.

We once more declare that this slaughter planned in advance and committed against our people, with the aim of total or partial annihilation of people on the ground of their ethnic origin and constituting the crime of genocide under international and domestic law was accompanied with gross and mass violation of human rights.

We hope that the world community, international organizations will support the justified demands of Azerbaijan, and this grievous crime against humanity will receive international recognition as a genocide act and the perpetrators will be punished soon.
Elmira Suleymanova

Commissioner for Human Rights
(Ombudsman) of the Republic of Azerbaijan


The Statement is addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, United Nations Security Council, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, OSCE, Council of Europe, International Ombudsman Institute, European Ombudsman Institute and Asian Ombudsman Association, International Peace Bureau, International Peace Federation, Embassies of Azerbaijan abroad, as well as the foreign Embassies in Azerbaijan, Ombudspersons of foreign countries and organizations of Azerbaijani Diaspora.
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