Massacres Started In Baku
Posted 17 August 2018 - 10:40 AM
The author and her mom Tatyana Shahnazarova in Baku, 1987
BY YULIA SHAHNAZAROVA
“Life is a like parachute; it keeps you waiting until it opens up, and all the way through you are filled with hope!”
I was a five year-old girl at the time and I didn’t understand the irreversible life changing events that were on their way. I never imagined that I was to become part of a very critical and political reversal of fate. And it all began quite unexpectedly…
We lived in Baku then, in a household that witnessed the tragic fate of ethnic persecution for two generations, just for being born Armenian. A descendant from Artsakh, Shushi, kin of the Meliks, my great-grandfather settled in Baku with his family back in 1890s.
But he had to flee with his family from Baku to escape the waves of the Armenian Genocide that reached Baku in 1918. It was the Baku Armenians’ turn to survive the massacres. After my grandfather was born, my great-grandfather died of typhus leaving his wife alone with four children. My grandfather, a child in exile, was brought up in hunger and poverty in Astrakhan. In 1920 my great-grandmother re-settled in the then Soviet Baku to start life anew. To this day, I vividly remember my grandfather, a man of word and deed and a veteran of World War II. He was a respected professor at the State University in Baku. We were close. He used to tell me: “Yulia jan, whatever happens, keep your faith and hope strong!”
The author’s great grandmother Astghik and great grandfather Grigor Melik-Shahnazaryants, survivors of Genocide
It was an ordinary working day in early spring, 1989. I was playing with my toys and my grandfather was sitting on the sofa and telling me fairy tales I always loved to hear him tell me. We were waiting for my mother who was always on time from work. This time she was late. At first we thought the reason was heavy traffic but when she was two hours late, we became nervous. Our anxiety was magnified when our neighbor came in and said that the city was seized with disturbances, roads were closed, and that the agitated crowds were targeting Armenians. My grandfather, usually reserved and calm, showed traces of unrest. My heart sank. Though I did not realize the full meaning of our neighbor’s words, I felt that they meant something awful. I still remember this ugly feeling of fear that lives deep inside.
The author’s grandfather Grigori Shakhnazarov
Chaos overwhelmed both our hearts and the streets of the city. Hearing about the cruelty and brutality committed against Armenians a horrible thought came to my mind: “What if I never see my Mommy again?” But I drove the thought away and deep inside hoped for the better. At last I heard the noise of the key turning in the key-hole and I saw my mother. I didn’t recognize her at first. She was suddenly a different person, wild, frightened and at the same time determined. She did not say a word. She hugged me and my grandfather. Later I heard bits and pieces of the terrible truth my mother was telling my grandfather. The truth about the ruthless acts against Armenians, assaults on women and children in the streets, in their homes, the truth about violence and harassment, blood and suffering, infringed dignity and outrageous cruelty. All I could comprehend and feel was terror, despair, frustration and fear. Mass ethnic cleansing of Armenians began in Baku.
Several months prior to this life-changing event, my uncle had to flee the massacres of Armenians in Sumgait, a neighboring city. Leaving all possessions behind, but having saved the most precious possession, his life, he came to our door in the middle of the night. Something that he had never forgotten from that escape was what one of the Azerbaijani thugs said to his neighbor, a respected Armenian professor at the university, when they completely burned down his home library with a large collection of Armenian books.
“You, Armenians, have no history, write your history anew,” they laughed, setting the library ablaze.
Tortured to near death, my uncle’s neighbor, the professor, was able to flee to the railway station, carrying his empty briefcase and a grieving heart from irreparable loss.
The 1988 Sumgait massacres had normalized the anti-Armenian culture that before the pogroms such hate-filled attacks had become commonplace in Azerbaijan. The incident that took place that day was a precursor to a larger, government-sactioned, pogroms in Baku in 1990.
The author’s great-grandmother Valentina Ter-Avanesyan
The day my mother rushed home, barely surviving, was when the family made the final decision to escape death. We felt that no one would protect us at the expense of their lives. We were in our own house, but it was not our castle. The bricks on our house were shaking with every threat of Azerbaijani neighbors with whom we co-existed on friendly terms for over 70 years. They were determined to kills us, level our dwellings to the ground. Every day we heard of Armenians being tortured and dying. As we were making preparations to leave, a bloody cross appeared on the door of our apartment at night. We realized death is close – there would be no mercy to us the next morning. The marking of a cross drawn with blood meant that Armenians living in that particular apartment will be mercilessly killed soon. Were these the same neighbors and friends who just a couple of months earlier comforted our family to at the funeral of my grandmother? Was that a final point when an atrocity collides with the human face of war? History repeats itself. My family was a step away from death like my great-grandparents were during the Genocide of 1915.
With tears in our eyes and heartbroken, my mother, my grandfather and I parted with the house and memories of the entire lifetime. It was November of 1989. My grandfather’s mind and body refused to believe it until the last minute it was happening. He was already sick at the time and went into stupor. Standing in the doorway, he was unable to move. He didn’t want to believe the reality and did not want to leave the walls that house his history of 70 years.
The author’s great-grandfather Hovhannes Ter-Hovhannisyan and great grandmother Parandzem, survivors of Genocide
From there began our long story as refugees to Armenia – our historical, ancestral land. 27 years have passed since that day with many ups and downs, hardships of being a refugee. That gnawing feeling of anxiety and fear of losing my mother accompanied me for years after we fled. Every time my mother was late from work, I started crying thinking she would not be back. Eventually, together we overcame these fears. During the first few years in Armenia we experienced isolation, language barrier, unemployment, hunger and poverty, years of economic blockade with no electricity, gas. Yet we had a strong determination to survive and grow. I owe a lot to my mother – she is a very strong woman. Through these difficult years she is a light and beacon to me, helping to overcome the challenges of settling in Armenia and starting all anew, living in awful conditions, protecting my safety, struggling as the only breadwinner and boldly accepting life’s blows. She practically brought me up alone, paved her way as a professional and person, and stood firm on her feet, serving as a role model to me.
The author and her mother, Tatyana Shahnazarova, in Yerevan in 2017
A proud citizen of Armenia now, with many personal and professional accomplishments behind me and with many more ahead, I often recall those days that are carved into my heart forever. Despite them, I am blessed with the biggest gift – life, life to create, spread light and humanity with the ultimate purpose of alleviating sufferings of people and children going through hardships, sharing hope and helping people experience happiness.
Posted 16 January 2019 - 11:30 AM
Posted 16 January 2019 - 11:32 AM
Parliament condemns 1990 Baku Pogroms, other discrimination-based violence all around the world10:48, 15 January, 2019
YEREVAN, JANUARY 15, ARMENPRESS. The 7th National Assembly of Armenia has condemned the Baku pogroms of 1990, when Armenian residents of the Azerbaijani capital were targeted and murdered 29 years ago in January.
“During these days in 1990 the pogroms against the Armenians were happening in Baku. I think that our parliament, all lawmakers will together condemn this violence, and will also together reject all discrimination-based violence in all corners of the world . We, as a people that have faced this tragedy several times during our history, cannot tolerate no such violence against any national minority,” Speaker of Parliament Ararat Mirzoyan said during the session of parliament today.
Edited and translated by Stepan Kocharyan
Posted 18 January 2019 - 10:32 AM
YEREVAN, January 17. /ARKA/. These January days, Armenians around the world remember the victims of the Armenian pogroms in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, 29 years ago. For a whole week, from January 13 to 19, 1990, the Azerbaijani authorities organized and carried out mass pogroms of the Armenian population of the city. About a quarter of a million local Armenians were subjected to violence and deportation only because of their national identity, as a result there is no Armenian left in Baku now.
The immovable and movable property of thousands of Armenians was looted and taken away. According to estimates of various international organizations, about 500 Armenians became victims of the violence.
Speaking at a press conference convened today at Novosti Armenia news agency, an expert on the Karabakh issue, Marina Grigoryan recalled that so far not a single organization or government, including Armenia, has assessed these events as genocide.
‘I have hopes that next year, when the Armenian pogroms in Baku turn 30, the Armenian parliament will adopt a condemning statement," Grigoryan said.
She also recalled that the pogroms of Armenians in Baku were preceded by pogroms in Sumgait in the spring of 1988, when it became clear that there would be no responsibility for what was done there. Officially, 27 Armenian were killed and hundreds were injured in Sumgait and 18 thousand Armenians of Sumgait had to flee the city. However, according to numerous facts and testimonies, the death toll in Sumgait is much higher -from 100 to 200 people.
Marina Grigoryan also spoke about the latest meeting of Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers in Paris, saying the topic of pogroms of Armenians in Baku is related to it directly. "The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group called on Armenian and Azerbaijani authorities to prepare their peoples for peace. I am sure of one thing: Azerbaijan must accept the historical reality, the numerous crimes committed against its Armenian population," said Grigoryan. She noted that without the recognition there can be no talk of any reconciliation between the two nations.
Another expert Greta Avetisyan, recalled Ramil Safarov, an Azerbaijani officer who killed an Armenian officer Gurgen Margaryan in Budapest where both were having NATO-sponsored language course and who was glorified in his homeland. Safarov was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Hungarian court in 2004 but later was pardoned as a result of a deal between Baku and Budapest. She also recalled the beheading of three Armenian servicemen, the torture of helpless old men in Talish by Azerbaijani troops in April 2016 during the so-called ‘four-day war, after which the troops were glorified as heroes in Azerbaijan.
According to her, this is also a consequence of the impunity and indifference of the international community. She said it is necessary to inform the international community about these crimes, and take steps to achieve their condemnation. -0-
Posted 19 January 2019 - 01:33 PM
29 years have passed since the January tragedy in Baku and civilized world has done nothing yet..
Posted 20 January 2019 - 10:47 AM
Not expecting anything from them for the next 29 years, only we can do it for ourselves.
Posted 21 January 2019 - 10:19 AM
The days when Azerbaijani authorities are traditionally engaged in inciting hatred toward the Armenians as a part of their propaganda stunt called “the anniversary of the January 20 tragedy”, a protest rally is held at Mehsul Stadium organized by the National Council of Democratic Forces.
Activists of the Popular Front Party, Musavat and REAL take part in a protest rally demanding the release of blogger Mehman Huseynov and all other political prisoners.
The police are taking heightened security measures and three cordons are checking for those who come to the rally, contact.azreported.
As usual, the authorities are blocking access to the Internet at the venue of the rally in order to prevent live transmission to social networks.
Azerbaijani authorities force their population to mark the anniversary of the “January 20 tragedy” on January 19-20. On the night of January 20, 1990, units of the Soviet Army entered Baku in order to stop the mass pogroms of the local Armenian population, which had already spread to the Russian residents of the city. The organizers and participants of the Armenian pogroms in Azerbaijan have been declared “fighters for the territorial integrity and independence of the motherland.” Those of them who died as a result of troops were buried in the “Alley of the shekhids”, where crowds of officials and employees of state institutions, students and schoolchildren are driven every year. The authorities are completely silent about the fact that the troops were deployed to stop the Armenian pogroms.
- MosJan likes this
Posted 06 February 2019 - 10:35 AM
War kills childhood – spotlighting a Baku Pogroms survivor's story10:16, 6 February, 2019
YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 6, ARMENPRESS. Idaho-based Armenian Liyah Babayan is one of the thousands who witnessed the aggressive xenophobia towards Armenians living in Baku in 1988-90. These scenes had a strong impact on her and shaped her personality - later empowering her to bring justice for her family and the future generations.
Although Liyah was just seven years old when her family fled to Armenia surviving the pogroms, she clearly remembers the details of their journey - the harassments towards her family members at work and the brutal killings of her neighbors in the tension point of Karabakh conflict. As she says, being an Armenian in Baku in 1990, was a death sentence.
The mobs had no mercy for babies, children or the elderly and even the dead - their tombstones were vandalized, defaced and destroyed in the Baku Armenian cemetery. Even in her childhood perspectives, this was the most immoral, shameful criminal act a society could commit.
In the 6th chapter of her book, she tells us a story about her aunt Lola, who was murdered on January 13, 1990, by the mobs of Azerbaijani men. Her grandmother got a death certificate only after the pogroms in January in order to take Lola’s body out of Azerbaijan. With the help of the KGB, she obtained official government documents, accounting the injuries, and the evidence of the torture Lola suffered and died from. Aunt Lola’s murder haunted Liyah even in her sleep, replaying in her mind. The challenges for the family didn’t stop at only losing relatives and being at the scene of the terrifying events. Their only mission was to simply stay alive. The Babayans arrived in Armenia after the Earthquake of Spitak and had to live in a school shelter room for almost four years, with no money, electricity, in a state of hunger, as most people in Armenia.
In 1992, with the help of the College of Southern Idaho Refugee Program, her family was able to settle in the US. She started journaling her story not only as a survivor of Baku Pogroms but also as a refugee living in a completely different society in America. Later, her grandmother encouraged her to write a book based on the journal entries about the organized genocide that her family and thousands of Armenians survived in Baku.
Liminal is a refugee memoir, documenting her family’s escape from ethnic cleansing of Armenians in Baku, taking the reader into her childhood’s outlook of war and her personal space along with her struggle with identity and survivor's guilt, conveyed through her emotional reflections about life after the genocide. It is also a glimpse into Armenian Anne Frank’s experience in America as a refugee.
"War kills childhood, everything else can be rebuilt" is a quote from her book and journal. “This violence killed our childhood,” she says. Emotional, mental, psychological and many other traumas became physical disorders for her family members later in life. Liminal is also the journey of empowerment, embracement, appreciation for life after violence and chaos for a girl longing for her childhood and life’s lack in breaking the human spirit.
The beatings, sadistic tortures, rapes, and murders in Baku terrorized all of the survivors mentally, psychologically and spiritually - leaving them physically homeless and emotionally deformed. Despite this, Liyah’s victim story was later converted into a victor story - a journey dedicated to rising awareness of the crimes committed against humanity in Baku. In her perspectives, the organized killings, fabrication of death certificates and dates, confiscation of property, expulsion of a population are considered as crimes against the humanity and Ilham Aliyev is as guilty for covering up the facts of genocide as his father, for planning and operating the movement.
We had a great honor to talk to Liyah Babayan and get a broad understanding of her survivor story from her perspective.
-Thank you Liyah for sharing your story with us, can you tell us where is your family originally from?
-My father Martin Babayan's parents are from Shushi, Karabakh, they migrated to Baku for work. His father Sarkis Babayan was a political secretary in Baku during WWII and re-enlisted to fight during the war, he never returned from war and was declared Missing in Action. My mother Tamara Ter-Simonyan grandparent's escaped the 1915 Armenian Genocide of Turkey and escaped to Cyprus, then Uzbekistan and to Baku. My parents, brother and I were all born in Baku.
- Your book is based on your memories of the Baku Pogroms. Could you speak about massacres of Armenians in Baku? What did actually happen there?
-It was a very terrifying time in my childhood. The adults around us were very scared, and as children we could feel that something was very wrong. I watched the demonstrations of thousands of people outside our apartment. Our building had 16 floors, we lived on the 12th floor and could see out into the public square near the Karl Marx statue the mobs of men gathered chanting to cleanse Baku of Armenians!! My mother put her hand around my mouth and took me inside from the balcony because I was singing Armenian songs. This was a tension point of Karabakh conflict.
My parents were harassed at work, and told to not come to work. Then the attacks and violence began, we escaped October 1989, was the last time I was in Baku. We were living in complete fear those days, because we were being hunted. To be Armenian in Baku in 1990 was a death sentence. I remember hearing about neighbors killed and relatives escaping. It was very a scary time for us children. "War kills childhood, everything else can be rebuilt." this is a quote from my journal and book. This violence killed our childhood.
My aunt Lola, I write about in chapter 6 of my book, did not survive. The mobs of men entered my grandparents’ house and murdered her on January 13, 1990. My grandmother went back to Baku after the pogroms in January, under a different identity with a KGB escorting her at the airport. She went back to her house after the killing of my aunt. She also retrieved a death certificate with the help of the KGB official and attempted to take Lola's body out of Azerbaijan. I write about what happened in my book.
-Would you tell us about how your family escaped the Baku Pogroms in 1990? When did you move to the USA?
-My family survived the Baku Pogroms, I was 7 when we escaped to Armenia. I remember seeing the demonstrations and the Soviet tanks in October 1989 outside our apartment on Prospect Lenin, this was the last time I was in Baku. My parents put my brother and I on a bus leaving Baku to Yerevan and our relatives met us at the station in Yerevan. My parents and I went back to Baku again after that and that was our last time. My aunt Lola was killed that January 1990 during the pogroms.
We lived in Yerevan with my aunt and then in Yeghvard, in a school storage room (School #1) for almost 4 years before we left to United States as refugees. We were homeless and this was our only shelter for almost 4 years. I started 1st grade in that same school in Yeghvard and my brother. It was after the Earthquake. Those were very difficult years for my family, with no money, no kerosene, no electricity and hunger in Armenia, people were struggling to stay alive. We arrived to America September 4, 1992 to New York, then to Twin Falls Idaho through the College of Southern Idaho Refugee Program.
I went back to Armenia in 2005, I went back to Yeghvard and saw our old shelter in that school. It brought me many tears to relive those memories. I wanted to have a time of closure so I could have the mature emotions to finish my book. It was very painful to relive the past and difficult to write my book. I wish to come to Armenia again and again visit the school in Yeghvard.
-What has made you commit yourself to speaking about humanitarian values, justice and compassion?
-I felt the injustice my family survived and the cold murder of my aunt Lola in my heart all my life. As a child I had a very difficult time healing and coping with my aunt Lola's murder. It haunted me in my sleep, her being killed in Baku. My family was very wounded and shattered by the violence we survived in Baku. Even after we moved to America, we never talked about it because it was too painful to remember. I was encouraged by a teacher to start journaling when I started to learn English in 4th grade.
To write about my emotions and what our family survived, and about how it was to live as a refugee in U.S. - so since 1994, I kept journaling and one day I shared it with my grandmother. She encouraged me to write a book about what happened to our family, how we came to America. She made me promise I would write about pogroms and how this injustice we survived. I promised my grandmother I would.
I feel it is my duty to tell what happened, the organized genocide that my family and thousands of Armenians survived in Baku. This was a criminal act against humanity by a government, it was an organized ethnic cleansing campaign. The Azerbaijan dictatorship family, has blood on its hands. Father, Heydar and now the son Ilham Aliyev, is just as guilty of covering up this genocide. First the father, now the son. The destroying of Armenian Cemetery, this is an international crime against humanity. The organized killings, fabrication of death certificates and dates, confiscation of property, expulsion of a population - all this is crimes against humanity by international law. They continue to manufacture anti-Armenian sentiment in Azerbaijan and hostility towards Karabakh.
Whole Aliyev family is corruption, manipulation of facts and rewriting of history. Look what's going on there now, they lock up in prison anyone who speaks freely against their corruption, political prisoners, authors, any opposition to their false narrative. Their own people accuse them of this corruption, this oppression of free thought and speech. This family has built their empire off their talent of corruption.
-How did you come up with the idea of writing this book?
-My memoir is a combination of my journal writings from (age 10-18 years of age) also included my memories of our life in Baku, escaping pogroms, life in Armenia and coming to America. I promised my grandmother I would write it, and it was very important for me to keep my promise to my grandmother. She is no longer alive, but I feel we wrote this book together, with her help and information. My entire family was involved in the process of this book, very supportive and this gave us opportunity to talk about what we survived.
When I tried to think of a word that described how it felt losing our home, our identity our whole life - and becoming refugees, it was difficult to describe this emotional and mental state. How it feels to come to America and not be American, and slowly become part of a new country, how that change feels every day. The psychology of refugees and the way our identity is shattered, fragmented and how we have to piece our identity and life back together - this is how I found the word LIMINAL. It best described my emotion about myself, our family identity and our refugee family trauma. Our life was always in the air, changing and out of our control. Especially after we came to U.S. we did not understand this new society, culture or what to expect about life ahead. Was a space of constant changing and unknown.
That is why I call my book Liminal, a refugee memoir - it is about how traumatic events change our identity and what becomes of us after this. I was young when I wrote about this 16, 17, 18 - but my thoughts searched for a word to understand my own experience as a refugee child and teenager growing up in America. There was a lot I had to process about my past, and what my family endured before I could understand who I was in this new country. It was liberating to write about the difficult thoughts and feelings I had as a child, my own way of coping.
It is important for my children the truth about how we came to America, they will their lives knowing their Armenian roots.
-Is there a desire to translate it into Armenian and present it to the Armenian public?
-This is my dream, to meet someone who would be passionate about translating it into Armenian and Russian. Especially in Armenian, I studied and learned Armenian when I went to school in Yeghvard, but now I can read and write a lot less. I feel it is important to have my book in my mother tongue, to honor my ancestors in the language they preserved. I hope I have an opportunity to translate the book and share with our people in Armenia.
I am pleased to announce, a U.S. Veteran man age 86, purchased 100 copies of my book to donate to schools, universities and libraries throughout the U.S. He wanted people to know what happened in Baku to Armenians.
-It is known that thousands of Armenians had to leave Baku without any documents and money, leaving everything behind. You have been studying this issue for quite a long time. What steps have been taken to file private lawsuits against Azerbaijan and demand compensation for lost property, as well as moral damages? Many of the survivors have settled in the US after the pogroms. Are you in touch with other witnesses? Have you tried to work together with those people and launch joint projects in the US to raise the awareness of the massacres in Baku?
-It was crucial for me to solidify the research first, gather information and documents. I have been working on this book for 15 years, especially the emotional strength to relive the past and feel the trauma over again. Connecting with geo-political professors, historians, genocide studies programs, these are the foundation of my memoir. Understanding the effects of genocide on the psychology of survivors, from Holocaust, Cambodia, Bosnia and other genocides, the Post Traumatic effects on survivors and life after genocide. My family lost everything in Baku, our home (that was issued by the government to my WWII Veteran grandfather Sarkis.) My family suffered long after the pogroms, emotionally, mentally, psychologically and many of the traumas became physical ailments in my parents and grandparents later in life. Our personal possessions, family heirlooms, photographs, the historical and sentimental documentation of our family's history was destroyed and stolen from us. The vandalism, desecration, destruction and paving over of our loved ones in the Armenian Cemetery in Baku - that is the most immoral, shameful and criminal act any society can commit. Desecration of secretarial graves is an act of genocide and criminal according to international law. Azerbaijan is guilty of this crime.
When I visited Armenian and Yeghvard again in 2005, this sparked my spirit to be strong about telling the world what happened to my family. Before there was too much pain, an open wound - now there a desire for justice where the wound was before. For my aunt Lola, for the Armenians killed in Baku, there is a desire for truth and accountability for their murder. If there is not justice by international law, there is justice by international awareness. We, Armenian refugees, are victors not victims of our past. I dedicate my life to making sure the international community is well aware of the crimes against humanity committed in Baku.
This book helped my family connect with old friends who we lost contact with, friends who lived in the same building as us in Baku. With social media, the book has reached people all over the world. Hundreds of Baku survivors, from all over the world have contacted me to share about their own family's escape. I will be working towards a lawsuit through the international human rights court. Connecting with a knowledgeable legal team, who understand the gravity of such injustice on future generations and holding those who commit crimes against humanity to an international law, is crucial to this case.
I have dedicated my life to bring justice to the crimes against my family, the truth cannot suppress by Azerbaijan's government outside of Azerbaijan. The international community knows of the pogroms of 1990, it is reaffirmed by academia and online archives of history. It is clearly available for anyone to learn about through journalist, intentional government statements and eye witness contributors on Wikipedia. The government of Azerbaijan has zero credibility in the global community - it is a swamp of corruption. Even the people of Azerbaijan know they are held hostage by their own corrupt leadership, and are right now fighting for the dignity and freedom of basic human rights.
You can purchase Liyah Babayan's ‘Liminal: A Refugee Memoir’ book on Amazon.
Posted 29 June 2019 - 07:37 AM
January 15, 1990 is a day that 94-year-old Nora will never forget. It is the day she was forced into exile. For over 29 years, she has been suspended in an in-between place, living in a dormitory, a refugee from Azerbaijan.
Starting on January 12, 1990, a week-long pogrom against Armenians broke out in Baku, Soviet Azerbaijan. Armenian civilians were beaten, burned alive, tortured, murdered and eventually expelled from the city. There were verified reports that the attacks were not spontaneous as those responsible had lists of Armenian residents. At the time, approximately 200,000 Armenians were living in Baku. It is estimated that approximately 90 Armenians were killed.
The massive exile of Armenians from Baku and her own personal horror has left the elderly woman paranoid. She no longer wants to show her face to the world.
When Azerbaijanis stormed into her home and began beating her, Nora says she ran in one direction and her daughter Nina ran in another. She found Nina 12 hours later. “My brother’s wife was killed,” Nina recalls. “We stayed at the airport for four days and then they brought us here. We were supposed to go to Moscow a few days later, but to tell you the truth, I didn’t have the heart to leave.” She says that they should have gone like others did, instead they stayed and for three years forgot “the taste of meat.” She suffered along with the nation, but this time in her homeland.
Nora is also a veteran of the Second World War. She was an artillery officer with the Soviet Army and along with Soviet troops, she ended up in Berlin. For her service, she was given a medal by Josef Stalin and 11 commendations by other generals. She was injured and hospitalized twice during the Great War. The scars on her forehead are from shrapnel.
Nora becomes pensive. She remembers that when the Azerbaijanis were beating her, she managed to grab some of her medals that had been thrown to the floor, the others were on her uniform. “If I didn’t grab my medals, I would not be entitled to a veteran’s pension here,” she says.
Today, Nora lives with her daughter Nina at the Artsakh dormitory. Despite the horrors that she has had to bear, and while she continues to live in horrible conditions, she somehow has not lost hope.
Posted 16 January 2020 - 09:01 AM
‘Decapitated, mutilated bodies everywhere’ – How two children survived the Baku Pogrom horrors10:17, 14 January, 2020
WARNING: The article contains extreme graphic descriptions of violence and may be disturbing to some readers
YEREVAN, JANUARY 14, ARMENPRESS. In 1988, the pogroms against the Armenian population of Baku resumed, with the developments reminding the massacres of Armenians in Baku in 1905 and 1918.
The new wave of massacres of the Armenian population reached its culmination in 1990 January 13-19. The number of murdered Armenians or victims who died as a result of the pogroms in 1988-1990 in Baku reaches at least 500-600, while nearly 30,000 Armenians were killed in overall the three large pogroms.
The existing facts and eyewitness accounts show that the pogroms were premeditated and planned.
The Avchiyan family is among those who survived the horrors of 1990 January.
Sisters Susanna and Liliana Avchiyan recall that in those days the attitude towards Armenians had abruptly changed following the 1988 Sumgait Pogrom: even their own neighbors had become hostile, Armenians were being insulted, their balcony was being egged, they were followed, accused for things they never committed and were told to leave the city.
On January 13th, Susanna and Liliana – together with their mother Svetlana – are planning to visit a friend to celebrate Old New Year. Suddenly, they hear someone knock on the door and shout: “where are the Armenians, where are those Armenians. We know there are many Armenians in this neighborhood”. Svetlana begins to hold the door with all her strength and screams at her daughters to escape the apartment. The sisters are able to safely jump out of the window into the street, hoping that their mother will do the same. But Svetlana is unable to flee.
Liliana recalls how before reaching a basement to seek shelter they tried to ask help, knocking on every single door in the building. Neither Russians, nor an elderly Armenian wife of an Azerbaijani man opened the door and refused to give them shelter in fear.
Susanna and Liliana, 14 and 12 years old at that time, had no other choice but to hide in a basement with knee-high water and short circuit sparks coming from metal wires. As they were fearfully waiting for the night to come for the danger to somewhat decrease outside, they were listening to the gruesome screams from upstairs. Susanna particularly remembers the exact words one of the perpetrators told his accomplices while killing an Armenian: “he has golden teeth, let’s pull them out”.
With their mother’s last words in their mind “whatever happens, run and don’t come back for me”, the sisters come out of the basement only at midnight and start heading to the home of Raya, a school friend of Susanna’s. Susanna recalls that on their way they saw numerous dead bodies in the streets everywhere. The bodies were decapitated, naked, mutilated.
“Bodies were everywhere, uncle Zhora was living in the third floor, he was a professor, he was thrown out of the window. And then, children – children would stab him with knives. We saw a pregnant woman….her belly was cut open and the fetus was thrown out. Her ears were cut off for the earrings. We were just kids….and we were witnessing this”, Susanna said.
The same picture was in all other streets they passed through.
“The entire street was full of bodies, everything was on fire, screams were heard, there were naked fatally wounded or dead women. These perpetrators looked like they’ve just come out of the prison and were thirsty for blood or murder. For the first time I witnessed how someone is being raped…she was an elderly woman…..it was difficult to understand her age. One of them was raping, the others were looking. And then they gang raped her,” Susanna says.
Upon reaching Raya’s house, Susanna tells Liliana to stay there and decides to return for her mother. Raya also joins her, and they head back. They enter the apartment they had fled earlier, only to witness a horrifying scene: blood everywhere, and Susanna’s mother is missing.
New searches lead Susanna to her mother’s workplace, where she finds out that Svetlana’s boss had saved her after learning about the pogroms.
“Newspapers would then write about my mother. Her name was Svetlana Avichyan. Her director had saved her. At that time, she couldn’t remember who she was and what had happened. She was severely battered, she suffered concussion, her body was entirely covered in wounds, you couldn’t recognize her. Our mother was a very beautiful woman. And there she was, swollen lips, broken nose, she was unable to open her eyes, she was nearly deafened by the multiple blows she suffered on her ears when the attackers wanted to steal her earrings. They had even tried to cut off her ears”, Liliana said.
Sveta’s recovery, both physical and mental, took quite some time.
Susanna vividly remembers how she was treating her wounds with tweezers trying to pull out the parts of cigarette butts – the perpetrators had tortured Svetlana by putting off cigarettes on her body.
After these events, for the rest of her life Sveta was only wearing long dresses to cover the multiple scars on her body.
“She was unable to forget, she couldn’t sleep at nights. She told us how many men had raped her, when they thought she was dead…she was a different person. After this, she wasn’t the same, happy person we knew before…”, Susanna said.
Eventually, the Avichyan family was able to reach the United States. “We have never celebrated New Year since”, Susanna said.
The complete interview, as well as other eyewitness accounts are available in the online version of the 2016 Baku Tragedy in Eyewitness Accounts: Volume One” book.
Edited and translated by Stepan Kocharyan
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Posted 16 January 2020 - 09:03 AM
‘Azerbaijanis were using women and children as human shield’ – USSR interior chief on Baku Pogrom10:23, 14 January, 2020
YEREVAN, JANUARY 14, ARMENPRESS. It has been exactly 30 years since the last massacres of Armenians in Baku.
In early January of 1990, the rallies taking place in the Soviet Azerbaijani capital city of Baku were being held with “Death to Armenians”, “Glory to Sumgait Heroes”, “Long live Baku without Armenians” chants and hate speech towards the Armenians who had been living in the city for centuries.
After the rallies organized by the Azerbaijani Popular Front opposition movement, the Azerbaijanis began a premeditated attack on the last representatives of the Armenian community, with complete disregard to age or gender. The perpetrators had maps with the exact locations and addresses of Armenians.
Soviet officials who during those days were dispatched to Baku at the orders of Soviet Union leader M. Gorbachev later gave detailed descriptions of the inhumane actions, violence, cruelty and murders during the massacres of Armenians in Baku.
These officials include USSR Supreme Soviet representative Yevgeny Primakov, USSR Interior Minister Vadym Bakatin, as well as Major General Alexander Lebed – the then-commander of the USSR Armed Forces 106th Airborne Division, who himself witnessed the massacres.
During closed sessions of the 3rd sitting of the USSR Supreme Soviet’s 12th convocation, V. Bakatin’s speech clearly shows that the massacres of the Armenians was premeditated and planned.
“……the mass pogroms began on January 13th and 14th. The pogroms began unexpectedly, but they were well organized. The [Azerbaijani mob] was given the addresses of Armenians in advance: the Azerbaijani crowd of 5000 started moving towards the Armenians’ homes to kill and loot the Armenian population of the city. In this situation it was difficult to do anything, especially if we take into account the fact that the interior troops’ actions were being blocked with the fact that the culprits were using women and children as human shield.”
During the same session, Y. Primakov’s speech reveals the nature of the atrocities committed by Azerbaijanis.
“We were witnessing how in the situation, when the wild anti-Armenian pogroms caused numerous human deaths, tens of thousands of Armenians were deprived from their homes and expelled from the republic in few days”.
Being well aware of the massacres of Armenians in Baku, even during the active phase of the pogroms – from January 13th to January 19th – when Armenians were being murdered and tortured in broad daylight, the USSR leadership wasn’t hurrying to intervene, despite the fact that sufficient numbers of USSR interior troops were in Baku, which were capable of rapidly restoring law and order.
Gorbachev declared a state of emergency in Baku only on January 19th, when the Soviet government was jeopardized.
The massacres of Armenians in 1990 weren’t the first one and showed in a clear manner that impunity leads to new crimes. The first mass and organized massacres of Armenians in the present-day Azerbaijani capital were committed 115 years ago, in 1905, when hundreds of Armenians were murdered, and their homes and factories were destroyed. The pogroms continued in September-November 1918, claiming the lives of more than 20,000 Armenians.
The massacres in the beginning and end of the 20th century have virtually an identical signature – people were being killed only because they were Armenians.
Russian Major General Alexander Lebed wrote in his Za Derjavu Obidno book that “Armenians were being caught and mortally battered, at the same time they would also batter the Jews, Ossetians Georgians, everyone who to some extent resembled Armenians. They would beat them, as they say, by looking at their faces and not passports. They were looting and destroying apartments and stores, all small stores belonging to Armenians”.
The same was happening during the 1918 pogroms. During that time, the Chief of Staff of the Turkish Army’s East group, German Lt. Colonel Paraken noted in a report dated 26.09.1918 to Lt. General Von Seeckt : “At the presence of other witnesses a German told me that together with the Nuri Pasha’s adjutant they had entered a home where 13 Georgians were indiscriminately killed. When he drew the attention on the fact that the victims are Georgian, i.e. people under the auspices of Germans, the adjutant of Nuri shrugged and said: “They were simply mistaken for Armenians”.
The same happened in the January pogroms: people were being murdered for being Armenian or looking like them.
Armenophobia and racist policy is still on the agenda in Azerbaijan even a century later, proved by the glorification of Ramil Safarov, the murderer of Armenian officer Gurgen Margaryan during a NATO training course in 2004 in Hungary who killed the Armenian officer with an axe while the latter was asleep; the elderly civilians in the village of Talish in Artsakh who were murdered and mutilated during the 2016 Azerbaijani offensive; the state-sanctioned discrimination and other similar steps against anyone having an Armenian surname.
Edited and translated by Stepan Kocharyan
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Posted 17 January 2020 - 10:27 AM
Armenia must recognize the genocide of Armenians in Azerbaijan, the first ombudswoman of Armenia Larisa Alaverdyan told reporters on Thursday.
According to her, Azerbaijan, having adopted the experience of the Ottoman Empire, continued the policy of genocide, and the Armenian authorities should recognize this fact. “This is not about recognizing a new genocide. There are principles that cannot be abandoned, for example, the fact that Azerbaijan was created by the Ottoman Empire to continue its genocidal policy. It is also important to raise the issue of the fact that all the presidents of Azerbaijan have publicly made anti-Armenian statements at the international level. However, we have not yet seen the active work of the Armenian state at the international level,” she said.
According to Alaverdyan, 500 thousand Armenians lost their homeland as a result: 361 thousand arrived in Armenia, 30 thousand went to Karabakh, and over 100 thousand people did not register anywhere.
The human rights activist expressed hope that the upcoming parliamentary hearings will be held, with the involvement of many facts and documents.
As reported earlier, on January 13, 1990, the mass pogroms of the native Armenian population began in the Azerbaijani capital. The Soviet Azerbaijan leadership had officially acknowledged that the pogroms were committed on national grounds.
Posted 24 January 2020 - 10:21 AM
PanARMENIAN.Net - Azerbaijan can’t be trusted with the responsibility of ensuring security to any part of the Armenian people, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anna Naghdalyan said in response to a question on the 30th anniversary of the anti-Armenian pogroms in Baku.
“A number of important commemorative events were held on the 30th anniversary of the Anti-Armenian pogroms in Baku, numerous articles about the barbaric annihilation of the Armenian community in Baku were and continue to be published in the international media on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the anti-Armenian pogroms in Baku,” Naghdalyan said.
“Unfortunately, this year as well the authorities of Azerbaijan, explicitly or implicitly continued the policy of justifying the actions of the masterminders of the anti-Armenian massacres in Baku 30 years ago and the perpetrators of those massacres. Moreover, the perpetrators of the massacres against defenseless people were glorified as “shahids” by Hikmet Hajiyev, the Assistant to the President, while the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan accused Armenians themselves of perpetrating the anti-Armenian massacres in Sumgait.”
Naghdalyan said the Azerbaijani side employs tactics common among perpetrators—blaming victims for their crimes and denying any responsibility for public and systematic extermination of unarmed people in peacetime.
“This vividly illustrates once again that under no circumstances Azerbaijani authorities can be trusted with the responsibility of providing security to any part of the Armenian people. Apparently, under no circumstances Artsakh can become a part of Azerbaijan, and the people of Artsakh cannot be left without secure lines of defense,” the spokeswoman said.
Posted 24 January 2020 - 10:29 AM
Italian MP Giulio Centemero delivers remarks on anti-Armenian pogroms in Baku12:27, 23 January, 2020
YEREVAN, JANUARY 23, ARMENPRESS. Giulio Centemero, Member of Italian Chamber of Deputies (lower house of parliament) delivered remarks on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Armenian massacres in Baku.
Armenpress presents the Italian MP’s full speech:
“Just 30 years ago, on January 13-19, 1990, a massacre and deportation of Armenians were carried out in Baku based on ethnic identity. The massacres were organized by the Azerbaijani Popular Front party and were sponsored by the local authorities.
Although after the 1988 events in Sumgait, most of the Armenians living in that post-Soviet republic decided to leave their homes, nearly 35-40.000 Armenians were still living there in early 1990, much less than the 300.000 Armenian population in late 80s.
It was impossible to count the exact number of victims of the massacres because the local authorities were attempting to hide the facts. According to some international human rights organizations, more than 450.000 people have been killed. Thousands lost their whole property, according to some eyewitness reports numerous Jews, Russians and representatives of other nations were killed only because of looking like Armenians. Those who survived the massacres, settled in different countries of the world as migrants by joining the Diaspora.
Within the course of history massacres of Armenians in Baku were carried out at least three times – in 1905, 1918 and 1990. The European Parliament condemned the massacres committed against Armenians in its resolutions adopted in 1988, 1990 and 1991. Frelick Bill, chair of US Committee for Refugees, talked about the massacres and their consequences in 2002. On July 27, 1990, an open letter has been published in The New York Times addressed to the international community. The latter was signed by 133 prominent scientists and human right advocates of Europe, Canada and the USA which were voicing their complaints on the killings and massacres of Armenians in Baku.
The aforementioned crimes, as well as all the remaining crimes of the history should be remembered and should not be concealed through propaganda so that the humanity will remember them and such events will not repeat again”.
Edited and translated by Aneta Harutyunyan
Posted 06 February 2020 - 09:03 AM
The genocide of Armenians has been continuing in Baku, Sumgait, and Nagorno-Karabakh and needs to be recognized so that it does not continue with impunity, Baroness Caroline Cox said during the “The Forgotten Refugees: What Happened to the Armenians of Baku?” conference at the European Parliament.
She recalled that she is in a black list of Azerbaijan because of her visits to Artsakh.
“I know people who fled to UK because of pogroms in Baku,” Caroline Cox said, adding that the situation in Azerbaijan during those years was not “a wonderful picture of democracy and openness” as one of Azerbaijani participants tried to present.
Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte, the refugee who fled Azerbaijan in the beginning of 90s, told her story of fleeing Azerbaijan.
“Many of us have horrible memories of years living in cold and blockaded Armenia escaping with nothing. So many spirits were broken. So many lives were destroyed the lives of 350 thousand of people like me,” she said.
ULB lecturer David Babaev, in turn, thanked the European Parliament for offering a platform “to voice our concern about the situation with Armenian refugees who were forced to leave Baku in 1990”.
“Those atrocities: violence, intimidation, rape, murder and burning people alive should not stay unpunished,” he added.
The conference titled “The Forgotten Refugees: What Happened to the Armenians of Baku?” is organized by the European Armenian federation for Justice and Democracy (EAJD), mission of Armenia to the EU.
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Posted 07 February 2020 - 10:07 AM
The keynote speakers were the British humanitarian, Life Peer and former deputy speaker of the House of Lords the Baroness Caroline Cox and eye-witnesses Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte, an American-Armenian author and human rights advocate as well as David Babaev, a lecturer at “Université Libre de Bruxelles”. The latter are both survivors of the Baku pogroms.
Members of the European Parliament, EP advisers, students, representatives of the civil society and missions of various EU member states as well as Belgian citizens who are survivors of Baku pogroms, were present.
In his opening remark, the EAFJD President Kaspar Karampetian welcomed the participants and emphasized the importance of addressing the issue of the anti-Armenian pogroms, in particular in the premises of the house of European democracy. “In its resolutions of 1990 the European Parliament unequivocally condemned the pogroms perpetrated against the Armenians by the Azerbaijani authorities, namely in Sumgait, Kirovabad and Baku,” stated Karampetian.
MEP Costas Mavrides announced that he had decided to host the event, among other reasons, because of his own experience as a child who had to flee for his life after the Turkish invasion in Northern Cyprus in 1974. He emphasized: “Remembrance is not about revenge but forgetting is unforgivable because it would lead us to the same crimes”.
His Excellency the Ambassador of Armenia Tatoul Markarian reminded that the anti-Armenian massacres in Azerbaijan were the first mass killings and ethnic cleansings in the post-Cold War Europe.
During their testimonies, Ms. Astvatsaturian Turcotte and Mr. Babaev shared their personal stories and what they witnessed as refugees fleeing Baku. “We spent months hiding in our apartment, hoping that the violence against Armenians would end. But it never ended. We left everything behind and fled. We barely escaped but we survived. Many of our neighbors and family friends were not so lucky”, said Astvatsaturian Turcotte. Babaev underlined that the killings and pogroms in Sumgait and Baku had not come from nowhere and the ground was already fertile. He noted: “These atrocities: violence, intimidation, rape, murder and burning people alive should not stay unpunished.”
The Baroness Caroline Cox pointed out that the genocide of Armenians continued in Baku, Sumgait and Nagorno Karabakh-Artsakh and needs to be recognized so that it does not continue with impunity.
The guest speakers stressed that the Azerbaijani authorities still systematically incite and perpetuate Armenophobia as a state policy in Azerbaijan, a policy witnessed by the victims of Baku pogroms. They concluded by acknowledging the important role of the European Union as a soft power promoting dialog, peace and human rights.
The speeches were followed by a lively question and answer session, where the guest-speakers addressed the questions asked among others by Azerbaijani participants.
European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy
Խորհրդաժողովի բանախոսներն էին Բրիտանիայի Լորդերի պալատի նախկին փոխխոսնակ, իր մարդասիրական գործունեությամբ հայտնի բարոնուհի Քերոլայն Քոքսը, ամերիկահայ գրող, իրավաբան և իրավապաշտպան Աննա Աստվածատուրյան Թուրքոթը և Բրյուսելի բաց համալսարանի դասախոս, թարգմանիչ Դավիթ Բաբաևը: Վերջին երկու բանախոսները վերապրել են Բաքվի հայերի ջարդերը:
Միջոցառմանը ներկա էին Եվրոպական խորհրդարանի պատգամավորներ, պատգամավորների խորհրդականներ, ուսանողներ, քաղաքացիական հասարակության և ԵՄ-ում մի շարք երկրների առաքելությունների ներկայացուցիչներ, ինչպես նաև Բաքվի հայերի ջարդերը վերապրած Բելգիայի քաղաքացիներ:
Խորհրդաժողովի բացման իր խոսքում Եվրոպայի Հայ դատի գրասենյակի նախագահ Գասպար Կարապետեանը ողջունել է ներկաներին՝ մեծապես կարևորելով Բաքվի հայերի ջարդերին նվիրված միջոցառման կազմակերպումը եվրոպական ժողովրդավարության կենտրոնում. «Եվրոպական խորհրդարանը 1990 թվականի իր բանաձևերում միանշանակորեն դատապարտել է Ադրբեջանի իշխանությունների կողմից կազմակերպված Սումգայիթի, Կիրովաբադի և Բաքվի հայերի ջարդերը»,- հիշեցրել է Կարապետեանը:
Եվրոպական խորհրդարանի անդամ Կոստաս Մավրիդեսը հայտարարել է, որ որոշել է հյուրընկալել միջոցառումը նաև այն պատճառով, որ ինքն էլ կիսում է փախստականների ճակատագիրը. մանուկ հասակում իր ընտանիքն էլ ստիպված է եղել փախուստի դիմել՝ 1974 թվականի Թուրքիայի կողմից Հյուսիսային Կիպրոսի գրավման ժամանակ: Պատգամավորը շեշտել է. «Հիշատակելը վրեժխնդրություն չի նշանակում, բայց միևնույն ժամանակ մոռացության մատնելն էլ աններելի է, քանի որ այն նոր հանցագործությունների է բերում»:
Եվրոպական միությունում Հայաստանի Հանրապետության առաքելության ղեկավար Ն.Գ. դեսպան Թաթուլ Մարգարյանը հիշեցրել է, որ Ադրբեջանում հայերի կոտորածները հետսառըպատերազմյան Եվրոպայում առաջին զանգվածային սպանություններն ու էթնիկ զտումներն էին:
Իրենց վկայություններում Աստվածատուրյանն ու Բաբաևը ներկայացրել են ողբերգական օրերի իրենց հիշողությունները. «Մենք ամիսներով թաքնվել էինք մեր բնակարանում՝ հուսալով, որ հայերի դեմ բռնությունը կդադարի: Բայց այն չդադարեց: Մենք ամեն ինչ թողեցինք ու փախուստի դիմեցինք: Մի կերպ փրկվեցինք ու կենդանի մնացինք: Մեր հարևաններից ու բարեկամներից շատերը մեզ նման բախտավոր չգտնվեցին»: Բաբաևը շեշտել է, որ Սումգայիթի ու Բաքվի ջարդերի համար պարարտ հող էր նախապատրաստված. «Այդ վայրագությունները՝ բռնությունը, ահաբեկումը, բռնաբարությունները, սպանությունները, մարդկանց կենդանի այրելը, չպիտի անպատիժ մնան»:
Բարոնուհի Քերոլայն Քոքսը նշել է, որ Հայոց ցեղասպանությունը շարունակվել է Բաքվում, Սումգայիթում և Արցախում, և այն պետք է ճանաչվի՝ անպատժելիությանը վերջ դնելու համար»:
Բանախոսները նաև նշել են, որ Ադրբեջանի իշխանությունները երկրում որպես պետական քաղաքականություն շարունակում են համակարգված կերպով հայատյացություն սերմանել և տարածել, որի ականատեսն են եղել նաև Բաքվի ջարդերի զոհերը: Եզրափակելով՝ բանախոսները շեշտել են Եվրոպական միության կարևոր դերը որպես երկխորոսությունը, խաղաղությունը և մարդու իրավունքները խթանող կարևոր «փափուկ ուժ»:
Բանախոսություններին հաջորդել է հարց ու պատասխան, և խորհրդաժողովի մասնակիցները, այդ թվում ադրբեջանցիները, հնարավորություն են ունեցել իրենց հարցերն ուղղել բանախոսներին:
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Communication and PR Officer
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e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
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