On the night of 19-20 January 1990, without preliminary announcement of a state of emergency, Soviet troops were invaded into the city of Baku and some regions of Azerbaijan. The invasion of Baku by a large contingent of units of the Soviet army, internal troops and Special Forces was accompanied by cruelty. The brutal massacre was committed over the peaceful population, hundreds of people were killed, wounded, missing.
Картинки по запросу black january
Azerbaijanis call it "Black January", meaning the massacre of civilians that occurred on January 19 and 20, 1990, when Soviet tanks and troops took to the streets of Baku. Operation "Strike" was intended to crush the makings of an independence movement in Azerbaijan. Officially, 131 people were killed; unofficially, the figures swell to at least 300 and possibly more. Even to this day, more than 28 years later, the truth is unknown, as apparently most of the documents - 200 secret boxes, according to some accounts - were confiscated and sent back to Moscow by the Soviet Army when it became clear that the Soviet Union was on the verge of collapse.

     Soviet army soldiers have shot people at point-blank range with special brutality, carried out deliberate assaults of tanks and armored personnel carriers on cars, and bombarded hospitals, prevented the medical personnel from helping the wounded. The personnel of the troops wounded the wounded with bayonet knives. The use of bullets for a Kalashnikov rifle with a caliber of 5.45 mm with a displaced center of gravity does not just lead a person out of action, but repeatedly increases suffering and makes death inevitable.
Похожее изображение
  A terrible sight represented Baku at dawn on January 20: bloodstained streets and squares of the city, the remains of mutilated corpses, crushed cars, riddled bullet-riddled houses, and asphalt. This night, the whole population of Azerbaijan, especially Baku, experienced a real tragic shock. I was then 15 years old, we lived in Baku, and I remember with my parents and sister sitting all night and could not fall asleep. They thought they were thinking that this could be and what awaits us ... Then, like many other people in my city, for the first time in my life I heard shots from tanks and machine guns. This terrible night was disgustingly long, but I remember that there were a lot of stars, but these stars could not tell us anything either, as if the stars lost their warmth and affection and it seems to me that they were forced to remain silent, frightened by these terrible shots.
Похожее изображение
  The bloody massacre that occurred in Baku in January 1990 showed the anti-people and bloody essence of the totalitarian Soviet regime, when the armed forces of the USSR were once again used not against foreign aggression, but against their own people. An analysis of the activities carried out by party and state bodies on the eve of January 20, as well as the contradictory processes going on in Baku, showed that the January tragedy was the result of a pre-prepared military operation by the Soviet KGB.

The well-known KGB general Bobkov was in charge of the operation. Together with him throughout January in Baku were members of the Politburo Yevgeny Primakov, Andrei Girenko. The ministers of defense and internal affairs of the USSR Dmitri Yazov and Vadim Bakatin and other senior military officials arrived in Baku to carry out this planned criminal action.
Картинки по запросу black january and gorbachev
   In all of their speeches they assured that, they came to Baku in order to understand the situation and prevent the entry of troops into the city. The USSR leadership including Michail Gorbachev knew that the country was falling apart, and urgent measures were needed to stop the disintegration process. On the advice of his closest associates, Gorbachev authorized the implementation of a criminal fascist intervention in Baku, which was to be indicative lesson for all the other republics.

An unconstitutional declaration of a state of emergency in Baku, the invasion of the Soviet armed forces in the Baku city and the organized fascist massacre of civilians with the participation of heavy equipment and lethal weapons in the absence of any resistance was a crime against civilians. They were Soviet commandos who turned out to be brutal bloodsuckers and simply beasts, hardened by drugs and alcohol

... What a terrible price the Azerbaijani people paid for an unauthorized and undeclared martial law. In the morning it became clear to everyone - what a terrible tragedy the intervention of Soviet punitive forces turned into - they shot anywhere, they saw at least one person on the street - they destroyed, killed women, children, the elderly, the blind.

   My friend and photographer, now Israeli citizen Boris Dobin reminded about Black January: "It cannot be forgotten. The events of January 1990 are an open wound for me, which will never cease to cause pain. Sometimes the pain becomes less, sometimes – stronger, but it’s always here. I remember the development of these days in details. For many decades people of various nationalities have been living in Baku in peace. I am Jew and was raised among Azerbaijanis, I speak Azerbaijani fluently, and the pain of the Azerbaijan people is my pain.
   At that time, I was working as a photographer in two places: in the city musical art history museum and the traffic police department. On January 20, early in the morning the head of the department called me and said that we had to make a raid on the streets to picture the damage committed to the city infrastructure. Tanks drove across Baku and crashed everything in their path; they ran over parked cars on purpose. However, as you can see I pictured not only infrastructure. It was terrible to walk down the streets. Bodies were everywhere. It was clear that the army fired at unarmed people who could not and did not try to resist. Even though it was morning already and General Lebed had withdrawn his troops from Baku, shoots could be heard in the city. I read about similar events only in books on Nazism. It was Nazism what the army did on January 19-20 in Baku. The pain and confusion, which the Baku residents felt that day cannot be forgotten. I continued to picture that and the next day when funerals were organized" – Dobin said.
Картинки по запросу black january
  
British journalist Tomas de Waal wrote in his "Black Garden" about bloody Black January: "Tanks rolled over barricades, crushing cars and even ambulances. Witnesses spoke of soldiers firing at people who fled and of soldiers stabbing and shooting the wounded. A volley of bullets hit a bus full of civilians and many of its passengers, including a fourteen-year-old girl, were killed. Some one hundred thirty citizens of Baku have been killed and several hundred were wounded on the night of 19–20 January. An independent military investigation group known as “Shield” later concluded that the Soviet army had waged war on one of its own cities and called for criminal proceedings against Defense Minister Dmitry Yazov, who had personally commanded the operation".
Похожее изображение
From the numerous testimony of witnesses, it appears that the Soviet soldiers, removing from the scene the disfigured corpses and parts of bodies crushed by military technology, thus tried to hide the traces of the deeds committed. One of the deceased was found only the right hand, and was buried in the cemetery. Famous Russian film director Stanislav Govorukhin wrote about the intervention of Soviet troops in Baku: " The Soviet Army invaded to the Soviet city ...Baku… like an army of invaders: under the cover of night, on tanks and armored cars, clearing its way with fire and sword.

According to the military commandant, the ammunition consumption this night - 60 thousand cartridges. On the Sumgait road stood the car on the roadside. Skipping the tank column, the car, in it - three scientists from the Academy of Sciences, three professors, one of them - a woman. Suddenly the tank left the column, grinding its tracks on metal, moved the car, crushing all the passengers. The column did not stop - it went to smash the "enemy who settled in the city" – wrote Stanislav Govorukhin
Картинки по запросу qanlı yanvar
  January 21, 1990 – Baku and Azerbaijan people buried their sons and daughters, who, according to Gorbachev, were "Islamic fundamentalists." Is Farida - a girl who married three months ago killed herself by hearing about the death of a loved one, is not Rashad, who was 15 years old, was Vera Besantina, Jan Meerovich, ambulance doctor Sasha Marchevka - they were all " Islamic fundamentalists"

The roots of the January tragedy were in the continuing aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan for over two years, an analysis of the events of 1988-1990 clearly shows that Armenia, with the full support of the central Soviet government, intended to annex part of the territory of the neighboring republic.

The punitive action of the Soviet armed forces that carried out in Baku in January 1990 year, its scale, cruelty, the number of human victims surpassed similar events in Tbilisi in April 1989, in Vilnius - in January 1991. These were the final convulsions of the obsolete Soviet empire. Azerbaijani patriots, a Jewish girl and a Russian doctor, and an Azerbaijani child buried in a mass grave - all this is a terrible and unbearable tragedy of Azerbaijan. The Memorial and the Helsinki Human Rights Group reported on May 1991 that they found convincing evidence that the imposition of a state of emergency led to an unjustified violation of civil liberties and that Soviet troops used unreasonable force methods (including the use of armored vehicles, bayonets and shooting at ambulances), which led to numerous victims.
Картинки по запросу qanlı yanvar
  An intervention of Soviet troops and the declaration of a state of emergency in Baku were a gross violation of the Constitution of the USSR (Article 119) and the Constitution of the Azerbaijani (Article 71). All existing international conventions on human rights were violated, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966, the Final Act of the Meeting on Security and Cooperation in Europe in 1975, the final document of the 1989 Vienna CSCE Meeting, the Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict, 1974, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989,  Declaration on the non-use of easily unfolding or flattening bullets of 1980.

Black January turned out to be the beginning of the end of Soviet rule in Azerbaijan and disintegration of the Soviet Union. Communist Party members, who had devoted their lives to serving the interests of the USSR, were appalled to find the system turning against them. Stories abound of Party members setting fire to their membership IDs. The national leader of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev, a former member of the Soviet Politburo, waged a scathing attack on Gorbachev, accusing him of masterminding this heinous crime.
Картинки по запросу heydar aliyev and january 20
Heydar Aliyev, the National leader of Azerbaijan
On the night of the tragedy, Vezirov, the leader of the republic, fearing the people’s anger, escaped to Moscow. Azerbaijanis living in Moscow arranged a meeting about the tragedy. At that time, Azerbaijan national leader Heydar Aliyev was living in Moscow and he came to Azerbaijan’s permanent representation and presented his condolences to the people of Azerbaijan. In a speech, he emphasized that the initiators of the tragedy were the then political leadership of the USSR and Azerbaijan and they had done nothing to calm the people down. Heydar Aliyev, who considered this tragedy a crime against the Azerbaijani people, emphasized that the initiators.

By destroying the TV station and cutting off power, Soviet authorities managed to stop nearly all news of the attack from reaching the rest of Azerbaijan and the international community. The only station remaining was Radio Liberty. Through its efforts, dissenters were able to organize against the Soviet invasion. "In the end, however, all of the Soviet efforts to keep Azerbaijan under Soviet rule proved worthless. The Soviet Union’s attack on Baku had the opposite effect. Instead of suppressing dissidents and eliminating the independence movement, it further encouraged Azerbaijanis in their drive for freedom from communist rule" – wrote Katarina Hall.
Картинки по запросу black january
  Despite the bloody events in Baku, the day of January 20, 1990 became a page of heroism in the history of the struggle for the independence and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. On 20 January 1990, though the Azerbaijani people suffered military, moral and political aggression, they displayed their ability to maintain the traditions of historical heroism and resist the cruelest attacks for the sake of the freedom and independence of the motherland, even becoming martyrs.

The sons of Azerbaijan perished on 20 January 1990 while defending the freedom and independence of Azerbaijan and by their bravery made a vivid history in the chronicle of heroism of Azerbaijan. Moreover, today the Azerbaijanis are proud of those who are ready to perish for the sake of the people’s national identity.
  28 years have passed since the tragedy of January 20. The sacred place of the worship of Azerbaijan people - Shekhidlyar Khiyabany - is visited every day, scarlet carnations are laid on the graves of martyrs, the flame that is the symbol of the Land of Lights does not die in the memorial "Eternal Flame". Thinking about this, the thoughts of the national leader Heydar Aliyev are recalled: "The heroes who died in the tragedy of January 20, they are our national heroes. Their death is a great loss for us, for our people. But, at the same time, their death is a symbol of the heroism of our people. The blood shed that night is the blood on our national flag, demonstrating the independence of Azerbaijan. "

Arye Gut
Political Analyst


Relevant to your professional network? Please share on Linkedin
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position or viewpoint of The Jerusalem Post. Blog authors are NOT employees, freelance or salaried, of The Jerusalem Post.

Think others should know about this? Please share