Azerbaijan Commemorates 25th Anniversary of January 20th Tragedy

(ASSIGNMENT: Write a blogpost about any interesting or important news story that has happened in your country in the past month. Try to write it in a news style, using the inverted pyramid model.)

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN – Azerbaijan gathers together united to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the 20th January tragedy.

Azerbaijani Human Rights Commissioner, Elmira Suleymanova, released the following statement regarding the tragedy:

“There is a sufficient legal basis to declare the events of 20 January as a crime against humanity – one of the most serious forms of international crimes in accordance with the international law. There are sufficient grounds to bring the personnel who committed these atrocities, those who gave order in this regard and leaders of former Soviet Union to justice.”

Boats stopped and blared horns to remember victims of Bloody January.

The victims were honored with a minute of silence at 12:00 Baku time and ships, cars, and trains signals could be heard throughout the city. The national flags were lowed throughout the country and Baku residents visited the Alley of Martyrs, a commemorative park, throughout the week as a sign of mourning and respect for the victims of the tragedy.

Black January, or the January Massacre as others call it, began on the night of January 19, 1990 and continued for 3 days as Soviet troops began open firing into crowds of protesters in Baku. 137 people were killed, 744 wounded and 841 were illegally arrested.

The Soviet government asserted that the actions, referred to as military law, were necessary to prevent any further violence against the Armenian population and stop an Azerbaijani independence movement to overthrow the then-reigning Soviet Azerbaijani members in power. After the Supreme Soviet of the Armenian SSR voted to include Nargorno-Karabakh, a hotly disputed territory, in its budget and give inhabitants Armenian voting power, thus snubbing the Azerbaijani authority and jurisdiction, Azerbaijani’s were outraged and took to the streets. On January 19th, a state of emergency was decreed in Baku by President Gorbachev, giving military power to troops that were deployed.

In 1994, the Azeri parliament did a full legal and political assessment of the events and released the names of the offenders and the 20th of January is now recognized as a Day of Nationwide Sorrow.

Azerbaijani embassies, diplomatic missions, and communities across the globe also paid their respects and garnered the attention of the world community as they held events commemorating the tragedy.

The Azerbaijani Embassy in Japan hosted guests to pay their respects to the victims and released this statement: “The ‘Black January’ demonstrated will and bellicosity of Azerbaijani people to whole world. The Soviet leadership’s effort to frighten people and to lengthen life of the soviet system by means of power failed.”

At a commemorative event at Azerbaijan’s Consul in Los Angeles, journalist Nancy Pearlman emphasizes the effect that the events of January 20th had on the collapse on the USSR and praises Azerbaijan for its strides forward.

See Azerbaijan react in the video below:

Azərbaycan Dövlət Teleqraf Agentliyi – Video Site – Azerbaijan State Telegraph Agency – Video.

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