Reza Deghati: AZERTAC is a very professional agency known worldwide and doing valuable work
Baku, January 20, AZERTAC
World-famous Azerbaijani photographer Reza Deghati has shared his memories of the 20 January tragedy in Baku in an interview with AZERTAC.
Recalling that he was in Paris on 20 January 1990, world-famous photographer Reza Deghati says: “Ramiz Abutalibov, who was working at UNESCO at the time and recently passed away, called me at 4-5 in the afternoon and said that a great tragedy had occurred in Baku and that he wanted to meet with me about it. I went to see him immediately. Ramiz Abutalibov said that the Soviet army had committed a massacre in Baku, killing and injuring hundreds of people. We have little information, as journalists are not allowed to go to Baku. Hearing this, I decided to go to Baku. In Soviet times, international journalists were issued visas in Moscow, so I had to go there. On the evening of 21 January, I arrived in Moscow. They said that all roads were closed and it was impossible to travel to Baku. There were several other journalists in Moscow who wanted to go to Baku. I was told at the Azerbaijani diplomatic mission in Moscow that they could help us. It was possible to go to Baku only by train. The train would reach Baku in 48 hours. Since there was no other choice, my friends and I set off by train. Whenever there was in inspection, I hid. When we arrived in Baku, we saw that everyone was being checked at the station. My friends from Moscow secretly took us out of the station.
I stayed in Baku for three days. First, we went to the morgue. We secretly photographed the list of the dead. Then we went to the hospital where the wounded were. Soviet soldiers were checking visitors to the hospital and not letting anyone in. We were able to enter though, with the help of our friends from Azerbaijan. I was taking photos, and my friend Ahmed from Turkey was filming with his small camera.
Then we went to the Alley of Martyrs. Thousands of people were gathered there. Those killed in the tragedy were buried there. After the filming, we barely managed to get tickets for the Baku-Moscow flight. We stayed in Moscow for the night and left for Paris the next day. When we arrived there, we saw that no-one in Europe was aware of the bloody events in Baku. This is why I sent the photos I took to television through an agency in France. Eighteen TV channels showed the photos and circulated information about it. Then I learned that two journalists had traveled to Baku from France and filmed the 20 January tragedy. Therefore, Azerbaijan’s security forces came under a lot of pressure. But what can we do? After all, this is the profession of a journalist. A few years later, when the Khojaly tragedy was committed, I came to Baku and filmed again.”
The world-famous photographer also spoke about his cooperation with AZERTAC: “When I started working with AZERTAC, there was a photographer named Ogtay who worked there and was my friend. We met often and exchanged views. Many of my photos and interviews have been published by AZERTAC. They always support me. I can say that AZERTAC is a very professional agency recognized worldwide and doing valuable work.”
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