DAYS OF SORROW


Azerbaijani Ombudsperson issues statement on 30th anniversary of January 20 tragedy

Baku, January 15, AZERTAC

Azerbaijani Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman) Sabina Aliyeva has issued a statement on the 30th anniversary of the January 20 tragedy.

The statement reads: “Thirty years pass from the bloody 20 January tragedy, as a result of which hundreds of Azerbaijani compatriots were killed, injured and went missing in Baku and other regions of the country. Since 1987, as a result of the support by former USSR leadership to the raising Armenian separatism in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast, which is an integral part of Azerbaijan and biased position towards our country, deportation of the Azerbaijanis from their historical-ethnic lands in Armenia, exposure of compatriots to severe torture and violence exhausted our people’s patience. 20 January massacre was committed upon the instruction of the Soviet government of the period in order to suppress the rightly protest of our people, to prevent the expanding liberation movement in Azerbaijan.

Over the night from 19 to 20 January 1990, the Soviet army were deployed to Baku and Sumgait, other cities and regions of the country as well, fired the people using descent groups brought by military vessels, tanks and other heavy military equipment, thus international law norms, provisions of the former USSR and Azerbaijan SSR Constitutions were grossly violated, a violent crime against humanity was committed against our multinational people which stood in defense of freedom of their homeland and their own rights.

Armed forces entered Baku, killed 150 unarmed civilians mercilessly regardless of their nationality, age or sex, including children, women and elderly, 744 peaceful, innocent persons in the capital, suburban settlements and surrounding areas were injured, hundreds of people went missing, 841 persons were illegally arrested. Even the ambulances and physicians carrying the injured persons were subjected to fire, therefore medical staff members became martyrs or were injured. Use of prohibited weapons and supplies resulted in immeasurable destructions. The energy bloc of the state television was exploded as a result of the sabotage organized by the USSR Committee of State Security with the purpose of concealing the event from the population.

At that period, a harsh statement was made by National leader Heydar Aliyev in the city of Moscow on behalf of the Azerbaijani people and he demanded legal assessment of the massacre committed against the Azerbaijani people on January 20 and punishment of the perpetrators. At the initiative of President Heydar Aliyev special session of the Milli Majlis was held and this bloodshed was given its political-legal assessment.

There are enough legal grounds to hold accountable perpetrators of the January 20 tragedy. This is above all is the fact of violation of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other international legal documents. At the same time, under the international law, the tragedy of January 20 should be classified as a crime against humanity. Thus, according to the article 7 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court, extermination, enforced disappearance of persons, other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great sufferings, serious injury to body, to mental or physical health are classified as crimes against humanity.

According to the Presidential Decree, citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan being of different nationalities killed during the tragedy were awarded with honorary title “Martyr of the January 20”, and different measures are taken in accordance with the Decree on “Increasing the State care to the persons who became disabled during January 20 events”, and these persons are entitled to relevant allowances by the state, and the martyrs’ families are provided with Presidential pensions.

As in previous years, the Action Plan on “Commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the January 20 tragedy” has been approved this year and is being implemented by the relevant Decree aiming to draw the international community’s attention to those bloody events.

It should be mentioned that there are enough legal documents to classify the January 20 events committed 30 years ago as a crime against humanity, being one of the most grave kind of the international crimes, at the same time sufficient evidences for bringing to justice the persons who ordered and committed this massacre and first of all, the leaders of the Soviet state of that period.

We would also like to draw the international community’s attention to the consequences of Armenia's aggression against Azerbaijan and the fact of violation of the fundamental rights of more than one million of our compatriots who have become refugees and IDPs.

Azerbaijan’s position on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh is that this conflict must be resolved within the territorial integrity of our country and based on the principles of international law, all the occupied territories of Azerbaijan must be unconditionally liberated, and return of the refuges and IDPs to their native lands must be ensured. The Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the OSCE, the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and other organizations have adopted relevant decisions and resolutions supporting Azerbaijan's fair and rightful position on resolution of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Partnership Priorities document signed between the EU and Azerbaijan also expressed great support for Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, sovereignty and inviolability of its borders.

We call on the world community and international organizations to assist in giving this bloody action, which is a gross violation of human rights, an international legal assessment.”

The statement has been sent to the UN Secretary-General, UN Security Council, UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Office of High Commissioner for Refugees, UN Human Rights Council, UNICEF, UNESCO, European Union, European Council, OSCE, International and European Ombudsman Institutions, Asian Ombudsman Association, European Network of Ombudsmen for Children, Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Network of Ombudsmen Offices in its member states, International Peace Bureau, foreign ombudsmen, embassies of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the foreign embassies to Azerbaijan, also the Azerbaijani Diasporas.

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