Today the Azerbaijani people mark the twenty-seventh anniversary of the tragic events, which happened on 20 January 1990 and are regarded as one of the most tragic, and at the same time, heroic dates for our people. This date symbolizes the struggle for national independence and freedom. Numerous civilians, who fell victim to punitive measures of the heavily armed Soviet troops, lost their lives on the path, which finally led the people of Azerbaijan to long-awaited freedom.
Twenty-seven years ago, on that horrific night, the Soviet troops were deployed to disperse the large civilian masses protesting at the biased policy of the Soviet leadership and its overt support for Armenia’s territorial claims for Azerbaijani lands, killing many innocent people. The death toll rose to 137 killed and many more hundreds wounded and maimed for life.
National leader of the Azerbaijani people Heydar Aliyev, at that time in a political isolation by the then Soviet leadership, put his own life at risk by going to Azerbaijan’s permanent representative office in Moscow on the day following the tragedy, made a strong statement condemning the perpetrators of the Bloody January events and informed the gathered world media of the atrocities unleashed on our people.
The massacre perpetrated by the Soviet military machine in Azerbaijan was an act of unseen aggression and genocide of citizens by their own state, a flagrant breach of the Constitutions of the former USSR and the Azerbaijan SSR. By sending troops to crush the civilian population on that night, the USSR government flouted the UN Charter, international law and a number of provisions of the International Treaty on Civil and Political Rights to which the USSR had been a party.
After the return of the national leader Heydar Aliyev to power in Azerbaijan, a political and legal assessment of the events of 20 January events, which is called as Black January by the Azerbaijani people, was given in 1994 and the names of those guilty of the crime were made public. Since then 20 January has been officially commemorated as National Mourning Day, and every year the people of Azerbaijan pay tribute to 20 January martyrs.