- January 21, 1990
Above left: Tanks in the streets
outside the citadel gates of the Old City of Baku. January 1990.
agony of Black January when hundreds of civilians in Baku were
killed by Soviet troops. Carnations became the symbol of mourning.
At Shahidlar Khiyabani (Martyr's Cemetery, 1990.
Photos by Reza.
Aliyev was in retirement in Moscow when the tragic events of
place in Baku (January 19-20, 1990). On January 21, 1990, while
the troops were still in Baku, Aliyev met with the leaders of
the Permanent Representation of Azerbaijan in Moscow, seeking
to have them convey his condolences to the Azerbaijani people.
Aliyev was not permitted to return to Baku a few days later to
attend the funeral of the victims of the massacre.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you know, I served as First Secretary of the Central Committee
of the Azerbaijan Communist Party and the First Deputy Chairman
of the USSR Council of Ministers for many years. I was also a
member of the Politburo. Then I had a heart attack . For
the past two years, I have been in retirement because of my illness.
I have been informed about the events that occurred yesterday
in Baku and, of course, I cannot be indifferent to them. I want
to express my condolences to the Azerbaijan nation for the tragedy
that has resulted in great numbers of casualties.
In regard to the events that have occurred in Azerbaijan, I consider
them illegal, hostile to democracy and totally contradictory
to the principles of human rights and the establishment of a
legitimate nation [USSR]. . . .
Already two years have passed since the conflict began between
Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno - Karabakh. Two years should
have been sufficient time for Azerbaijan to settle this problem
and to put an end to internal and national conflicts, and to
create conditions for independent life in the USSR for every
citizen regardless of their nationality.
If, in the early stages of Karabakh problem, the party leaders
of Republic had taken appropriate steps, the tension would not
have escalated. . . and the parties would not have suffered so
many casualties. What is more important is that there would not
have been this massacre of January 19-20, 1990. . . .
Unfortunately, Azerbaijan government leaders as well as the Supreme
Political leaders did not use such opportunities. It would have
been possible to stop the encroachment of our borders [between
Azerbaijan and Armenia] had it been done in time. Three months
ago, the people put forward their demands regarding the borders.
But nobody wanted to meet with them, to take their problem seriously.
. . .
Let me repeat. It would have been possible to calm the people
down. If the question of strengthening the party leaders of Azerbaijan
had been considered, the situation would not have become tense,
and it would not have been necessary for the army to enter. I
think that there were many chances to control the situation from
a political point of view. But these chances were not used, and
the Soviet Army and a large contingent of the Ministry of Internal
Affairs of the USSR invaded Baku.
The result is obvious. We are all aware of the tragedies that
have resulted. I consider this a political error. Yes, a political
blunder has been committed. Authorities simply could not evaluate
the real political situation in Republic. Nor did they know the
psychology of Azerbaijani people as there were weak relations
with various strata of the population. It seems that they did
not realize that this would result in tragedy.
But all this should have been taken into account earlier and
necessary steps should have been taken. The army invaded the
city and innocent people died. . . . All those who were involved
in wreaking this havoc on our country must be brought to justice.
From "Gatiyyatin Tantanasi" (Triumph of Determination) Baku, 1995
(Azeri Cyrillic), pages 31-34.
(7.4) Winter 1999.
© Azerbaijan International 1999. All rights reserved.
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