President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and first lady Mehriban Aliyeva have paid tribute to the victims of the bloody January tragedy on the National Mourning Day.
Twenty-eight years have passed since bloody January. 20 January 1990 went down in the history of modern Azerbaijan as one of the most tragic and, at the same time, heroic dates for our people. This date has become a symbol of the struggle for national independence, freedom and unshakeable will. The people of Azerbaijan, subjected to punitive measures of the armed-to-the-teeth Soviet army, did not lose their aspiration to freedom. On the contrary, their voice grew even stronger.
Twenty-eight years ago, on that horrific night, the courageous sons and daughters of Azerbaijan for whom the freedom, honor and dignity of their native country and people were above anything else, sacrificed their lives and became martyrs. Although many years have passed since Soviet troops perpetrated this bloody massacre in Azerbaijan, our people have not forgotten the pain of those horrendous days and are expressing their contempt for the then leaders of the Soviet empire and their servants in Azerbaijan for unleashing suffering on their own citizens.
The deployment of a large military contingent against large masses of people protesting at the biased and pro-Armenian policies of the USSR leadership, its overt support for Armenia’s territorial claims for historically Azerbaijani lands and the treacherous stance of the then leaders of the republic led to unseen tragedy in Azerbaijan, especially in Baku, and to the killing of many innocent people. Despite this, instead of standing by their people, the incompetent and slave-like leaders of Azerbaijan continued to hold on to Soviet leadership.
In contrast to them, the great son of the Azerbaijani people Heydar Aliyev, who lived in Moscow at the time, put his own life at risk by going to Azerbaijan’s permanent representative office on the day following the tragedy, made a harshly-worded statement condemning the perpetrators of the Bloody January events and informed the world of the atrocities unleashed on our people. By doing so, our great leader demonstrated his courage, bravery and dedication to his people again.
However, this Armenian-instigated crime could not break the will of the Azerbaijani people or put out their love of freedom. Our people managed to fulfill their dream of freedom and independence, albeit at such a high cost, and will never let go of this achievement.
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 clauses of the International Treaty on Civil and Political Rights of which the USSR had been a member.
After national leader Heydar Aliyev returned to power in Azerbaijan, a political and legal assessment of the 20 January events was given in 1994 and the names of those guilty of the crime were made public. Since then 20 January has been commemorated as National Mourning Day.
Every year on this date, the people of Azerbaijan pay tribute to 20 January martyrs.
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On 20 January, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and first lady Mehriban Aliyeva visited the Alley of Martyrs to honor the cherished memory of the victims of the bloody January tragedy.
President Ilham Aliyev laid a wreath at the "Eternal Flame" memorial.
The Defense Ministry’s military orchestra played the national anthem of Azerbaijan.
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Participants in the commemorative ceremony included state and government officials, heads of religious communities, ambassadors of foreign countries to Azerbaijan, and representatives of international organizations.
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The ceremony at the Alley of Martyrs was also attended by Parliament Speaker Ogtay Asadov and head of the Presidential Administration Ramiz Mehdiyev.