Baku, January 22, AZERTAC
US-based Jewish Journal has published an article headlined “Remembering Azerbaijan’s Black January: An Intersection of Tragedy and Inspiration”.
Written by Head of the Community of Azerbaijan’s Mountain Jews Milikh Yevdayev, the articles reads: “On January 19, 1990, friends were scheduled to visit us to celebrate my daughter’s birthday in Baku, Azerbaijan. But our plans were suddenly changed by the news of massacres taking place in different parts of the city. We urgently sent messages to our friends to stay home, for the safety of their lives.
Almost all victims were civilians, most tragically including women and even children. The news spread fast, and communities throughout Azerbaijan heard of what happened and no one could believe the story. It was a day we will never forget; the heartbreak was felt in every community, in every home.
We mourn for the many Muslim and Christian victims, brothers and sisters of the same nation who were killed on that brutal day. Many know that Azerbaijan is a special place for people of every faith and culture to live harmoniously, as our history and daily life demonstrates. The unity that is fundamental to our country is also fundamental to the national attitudes and emotions surrounding this anniversary.
In our Jewish communities specifically, the tragic news of murder of Vera Bessantina, a young Jewish girl, struck us very hard, deeply in the heart. Vera was only 16 years old and had just successfully completed her studies in music wishing to become a great violinist one day. We also mourn other members of our Jewish communities like Ian Meyerovich, who endured 20 bullets through his body before the Soviet soldiers left him for dead, and Alexander Markhevka, the hero who was killed in an ambulance as he rushed to save the wounded, scattered throughout the city.
In the Mountainous Jewish synagogues in Baku and Quba, we held a special service for every day of this week through January 20th. Our communities have very deep feelings on the memory of Black January.
Even in the sadness of remembering Black January, something in me looks for a positive, as if to spite it all. Immediately after the massacre, the Azerbaijani people refused to be intimidated, and defying the curfew imposed by Soviet authorities, filled Baku’s main square for the funeral in honor of the victims.
As we remember our fallen brothers and sisters, and raise our heads high with the pride of survivors, we hope for a time to come soon that will include no new days of mourning to add to the calendar, when this cause for grief only remains in the memory of our past.
In Azerbaijan, Los Angeles, Hebron, or Paris; for all of us mourning together, I am grateful that at least we have each other. That is what makes it possible for us to move forward with life, giving to us strength to honor those who lost their lives and to never forget their bravery.”