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  5. Murteza HASANOĞLU The 33rd anniversary of January 20 tragedy: Heroic and Pride history of Azerbaijan

Murteza HASANOĞLU The 33rd anniversary of January 20 tragedy: Heroic and Pride history of Azerbaijan

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The January 20 tragedy is the name of the great struggle we have given as a nation for our independence, future and stability. One of the primary problems that threatning global peace is international terrorism. One of the most heinous crimes against humanity committed in the 20th century was the January 20 tragedy. Bloody January, which occurred on January 20, 1990, is remembered as a tragic event by the Azerbaijani people. The people of Azerbaijan have been subjected to a number of bloody terrorist incidents from time to time. One of such incidents is the January 20 tragedy, which is a terrorist act and genocide commited against the people of Azerbaijan. Aggressive policy of Armenia, which made territorial claims against Azerbaijan and the use of specially trained units of the Soviet army against the broad masses of the people who strongly objected to the patronage of the former USSR leadership led to a bloody tragedy on January 20, 1990. The arrival of a large contingent of the Soviet army, special-purpose units, and internal troops in Baku was accompanied by extraordinary cruelty and unprecedented brutality. The January 20 tragedy is one of the most horrific crimes against humanity committed in the twentieth century. This incident entered the history of the people of Azerbaijan as the tragedy of Bloody January. The brutal terrorist act of the former Soviet state’s military against the people of Azerbaijan that day will remain a black page in human history as one of the most heinous crimes committed against humanity. Deprivation of the civilian population who fought for national freedom and territorial integrity of their country, and killing and injuring hundreds of innocent people as a result of mass terrorism demonstrated the criminal nature of the totalitarian Soviet regime to the whole world once again on the eve of its downfall.
January 20, 1990 is a bloody day in Azerbaijan’s glorious history, when our people stood up for independence and national ideology.
Despite the fact that 33 years have passed, all of our compatriots remember this day with deep sadness every year.
The fall of the Soviet Union provided the Armenians, who had been arming for a long time, with the opportunity they had been waiting for. The Armenians, who subjected nearly one million Azerbaijanis living in Armenia to ethnic cleansing, were not satisfied with this. Moscow had only one position against this barbarism of the Armenians, who carried out armed attacks against Azerbaijanis not only in Nagorno-Karabakh but also in Lankaran, Nakhchivan, Ganja and Baku: silence. This position fueled people’s desire for independence and caused them to lose faith in the USSR. Rallies held throughout the country since January, became more intense since January 15, when the Armenians increased their raids on the territories inhabited by Azerbaijanis.
By the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on January 1990, 15, a decision was made to declare a state of emergency both in Nagorno-Karabakh and some regions. In the seventh article of this decision, the proposal to the Supreme Soviet of the Azerbaijan SSR to include Baku and Ganja in the scope of the state of emergency was met with serious dissatisfaction by the people. People began attempting to block the entrance to Baku with automobiles on January 16 after learning that Soviet military would send troops to Baku and Ganja during the emergency. People seemed to be trying to protect the city from the new Soviet occupation. That terrible January night, engraved as “January 20” tragedy, was aimed at stifling the struggle of the Azerbaijani people for democracy and national freedom, and inflicting a moral blow on it. Newertheless, the Soviet empire was not able to break the will of the Azerbaijani people with its inhuman acts.
The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR declared a state of emergency in the city on January 19. The decision would be effective from 00:00 on January 20. But even so, due to the Soviet intelligence’s explosion of Azerbaijan TV’s power supplier on January 19 at 19:27, the people were unaware of the emergency situation.
Hence, in the evening, a Soviet army of 26,000 men with armored vehicles entered Baku from five directions. The Red Army soldiers killed 82 people and seriously injured 20 before the public was informed about the emergency decision. In total, more than 100 people were killed, more than 700 people were injured, and more than 800 people were detained that night.
That night in Baku, the Soviet army committed one of the bloodiest crimes in history, shooting at anyone who came across women, children, the elderly, and the young. Not only unarmed people on the streets, but also ambulances that came for the wounded, passengers on buses, even people close to the window in their homes became the target of the army trying to distance the people from the goal of independence. This terrorist act was also intended to intimidate other peoples who wanted to fight for their independence.
The January 20 tragedy is not only one of the saddest chapters in our history, but it is also a priceless example of our people’s love for the motherland, nation, and unity for national ideals. There are several moments that remind us of this tragic day with pride, one of which is the heroic example of the Caspian sailors. The sailors who directed the ships to Baku bay immediately after the incident saved the city from a new massacre by preventing military ships from approaching Baku. Despite all the pressure and threats, they tried to convey the tragedy in Baku to the world without leaving their positions. Our sailors sent “SOS” signals as “Attention! I am from Baku, they are burning me!”, “Attention! Baku is burning!” every 30 minutes and their effort did not remain ineffective. As a result of this unity and dedication shown by them, many countries of the world learned about the event in a short period of time.
The first steps were taken by Heydar Aliyev to transport the incident to the political level. On January 21, 1990, national leader Heydar Aliyev, who went to the Permanent Representation of Azerbaijan in Moscow, informed about the tragedy and severely criticized this crime committed against the people of Azerbaijan. His resolute accusation of the leaders of the USSR as the cause of the massacre gave new life and direction to the people’s movement.
Providing a correct and objective legal and political assessment of the events of January 20 is also the service of the great leader Heydar Aliyev.
On March 29, 1994, as a result of the principal and consistent struggle of National Leader Heydar Aliyev, the decision was adopted on “Tragic events committed in Baku on January 20, 1990”.
With this, a political and legal evaluation was given to the terrible tragedy of the people of Azerbaijan – the events of January 20. The victims of January 20 massacre died for their homeland, honor, dignity and humanity.
Today, 32 years have passed since the heroic saga witnessed by Baku, that bloody night. The events of January 20, 1990, known in history as “Black January” and “Bloody January,” shortened the path to independence for Azerbaijan even further. On that day, the children of the motherland who were martyred without fear in front of the Soviet soldiers and tanks became a lamp on this road.
The tragic events of January 20 and previous tragic events in Azerbaijani history were the next manifestation of the deliberate policy against our people throughout the twentieth century. The stages of this policy include the genocide against the people of Azerbaijan, the gradual annexation of Azerbaijani territories during the years of Soviet rule, as a result of which the country’s territory decreased from 125 thousand square kilometers to 87 thousand square kilometers, the events of Nagorno-Karabakh that began with the patronage of the Soviet leadership, the expulsion of Azerbaijanis from their ancestral lands in the territory of Armenia.
No matter how horrible the slaughter in January 1990 was, it was unable to shake the people of Azerbaijan resolve to fight for their country’s independence. The sons of the nation who perished on that terrible night left a lasting impression on Azerbaijani history and paved the way for the national freedom and independence of the people.
The ideology of Azerbaijanism and patriotism ideologies, which are ingrained in our blood and soul, do not alter as the years or generations pass. The sons of Azerbaijan still claim the belief that our historical heroes and martyrs left us as a legacy.
Every Azerbaijani had a wound that was bleeding from the 1990s until 2020, which we left behind. It was named Karabakh. Our people were unable to accept the occupation for 30 years and awaited their reunion with Karabakh with impatience.
The offensive attempt by the Armenian side on September 27, 2020, was the final straw for Azerbaijan, which had been patiently waiting for a peaceful resolution to the problem. Our mighty army started to advance toward the native territories after being given the order to counterattack. In just 44 days, our valiant troops, who shown unmatched bravery and battled to the very last drop of their blood, ended the occupation that had lasted for years.
Armenia was forced to surrender on November 10 when our victorious army successively cleared ancient Azerbaijani lands such as Jabrayil (October 4), Fuzuli (October 17), Zangilan (October 20), Gubadli (October 25), Shusha (November 8) from invaders. This was the historical victory of the Azerbaijani side over the invaders. Our Commander-in-Chief Mr. Ilham Aliyev, our unity as a fist and our sons who turned into the epic with their bravery led us to victory in this war of truth.
Every year on January 20, thousands of people visit the Alley of Martyrs to honor the dear memory of our sons and daughters who gave their lives for the Motherland’s freedom and sovereignty. Generations will pass, but the memories of the sons of the Motherland will live on in hearts forever. The perpetrators, organizers and executors of the Bloody January tragedy must receive their deserved punishment. Crime cannot go unpunished. One of the most horrific instances of ethnic cleansing and genocide in the 20th century was the tragedy of Bloody January. Those who participated in these events in any way are responsible to their own conscience for now, but the time will come when they will have to answer before the court of history.
The victory of Karabakh, written in gold letters on the pages of history, is a source of pride for all of us today. Both the heroes who gave us this victory and the martyrs of January 20 are a historical and clear example of the fearlessness and bravery of the children of the land of fire and their desire to live independently without accepting any occupation. These examples, which will be passed down from generation to generation, will make Azerbaijan’s independence and territorial integrity eternal, and will write it down in human history with indelible ink. November 8 was written with golden letters in the glorious history of our nation. President Ilham Aliyev added “Karabakh is Azerbaijan and exclamation mark” and proved to the whole world that Azerbaijan does not compromise even an inch of its land with anyone. The 44-day Patriotic War is our glorious source of pride. Karabakh is Azerbaijan!

Murteza HASANOĞLU

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