Azerbaijan Has Not Been Held Accountable for Brutal Pogroms

Front page of Asbarez on January 20, 1990 reporting on the Baku Pogroms (Editor's Note: The Asbarez English Section was a weekly publication in 1990)

Front page of Asbarez on January 20, 1990 reporting on the Baku Pogroms (Editor’s Note: The Asbarez English Section was a weekly publication in 1990)


On this day 30 years ago, the Azerbaijani Popular Front forces began the systematic and brutal massacre of Armenians living in Baku that left thousands displaced and many more savagely murdered in their homes and businesses. Before resorting to mass murder, the group chanted “Glory to the heroes of Sumgait!”and “Long live Baku without Armenians!”

Of course, it was not the first time that the Azerbaijani leaders had resorted to such gruesome violence against Armenians. The pogrom of Armenians began in 1988 when similar tactics were used against the Armenian population of Sumgait, followed a year later by the massacre of Armenians in Kirovabad. By 1990, it was an afterthought for Azerbaijanis to murder Armenians in retaliation for Karabakh’s demands to self-determination and declaration of independence.

While the Baku pogroms were underway, Azerbaijani forces had already launched massive attacks against the Armenian population of Karabakh, relentlessly shelling civilian targets in Stepanakert and other areas from Shoushi. A full-blown war was raging in Karabakh when Azerbaijanis decided to rid Baku of its Armenian population.

The optics were starkly familiar to Armenians. The images emanating from Baku were reminiscent of those that we had all seen from the time of the Armenian Genocide.

However, 30 years on, while the Baku, Kirovabad, Sumgait pogroms, as well as the massacres in Shahumyan, Maragha and other areas of Artsakh are remembered, its perpetrators continue to function under the same xenophobic policies that gave rise to them.

It is unfathomable that these violent acts against Armenians are not part of the issues being discussed by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen, who are tasked to find a peaceful resolution to the Karabakh conflict. Instead the entire Karabakh conflict settlement process is based on a set of principles—the so-called Madrid Principles—which not only ignore this savagery but call on Armenians of Artsakh to “withdraw” from their ancestral lands as a precondition for peace.

One might say that there are casualties during war. But, what about the casualties of ethnic cleansing where there was no actual war being fought? Were there battles raging between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in Sumgait, Kirovabad and Baku? The obvious answer is NO!
Furthermore, within the OSCE Minsk Group framework for the settlement of the Karabakh conflict, there is no mention of retribution for these crimes, not is there any discussion of justice for the victims.

The Madrid Principles are not best basis on which a settlement can be achieved. Not only do they favor the Azerbaijani position, completely ignoring Armenians’ rights, they also ignore the crimes that Azerbaijan has committed in the name of its nation.

It is time that the systematic ethnic cleansing of Armenians by Azerbaijan becomes a talking point in the conflict settlement negotiations and the international forces that attempting to resolve the conflict hold Azerbaijan accountable for its savagery.

Read Survivor Accounts from Asbarez Archives

‘Liminal: A Refugee Memoir’ Published by Baku Pogrom Survivor

How an Armenian Family Survived a Pogrom in Baku

Baku Pogroms 25 Years Later: I am Regina Papiyan

A Baku Pogrom Eyewitness Recounts the Ordeal 25 Years Later

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  1. Ararat said:

    Based on its track record, I don’t think the OSCE should be trusted at all. I highly suspect investments in oil and other energy resources in that terrorist and artificial Azerbaijani state by the countries that OSCE members represent has a lot to do with their passivity and tight-lip approach toward this criminal state. Over the years, the OSCE members have not only avoided criticizing artificial Azerbaijani armed forces for their indiscriminate transgressions against peaceful populations of Armenia and Artsakh in border towns and villages but that also they have shown no interest in holding accountable the fake leader of artificial Azerbaijan, that coward and racist Ilham Aliyev, for his inflammatory rhetoric against not just the local Armenians but against Armenians collectively world over. Having said that, I believe it is the responsibility of the Armenian leaders involved in this so-called peace process to raise these important issues with the OSCE members making sure they are given full and critical attention. I would add to that list of Armenian massacres by criminal Azerbaijanis, the cultural genocide conducted in 2005 by sadistic Azerbaijani army in Julfa desecrating and destroying a 1,300-year old ancient Armenian cemetery and setting up a military training camp in its place.

    When it comes to those so-called set of principles for the conflict resolution, and one of those principles being the principle of The People’s Will To Self-Determination, I have always noticed that this point is always omitted in discussions by Azerbaijani leadership and media, while other principles advantageous to them are always stressed, which goes to show these people are not party to this so-called peace process for the sake of peace but that they have other evil intentions. Therefore we need to strengthen our armed forces and provide them with massive and state-of-the-art lethal weapons with full intention of using them to make them think twice about their evil intentions. We must not think twice about making preemptive strikes on them either. We must be armed to the teeth and ready to crush the enemy at all times like we did a quarter century ago.

    Furthermore, we need to have official remembrance days with massive rallies for the Armenian victims, like the ones mentioned in this article, and proactively pursue justice for them in the international arena. We also need to counter their anti-Armenian rallies and expose and fight against lies and propaganda concocted against our nation by terrorist Azerbaijani petrodollars. These racist criminals have an insatiable appetite for fabricating vile stories about our people with impunity and we must do our utmost to starve to death such disingenuous charlatans.

  2. Edward Minaei said:

    Azerbaijan’s whole education system is geared towards falsifying history to legitimize Azerbaijan’s historic foothold inn the land. Despite the oil rich lands given to them Azerbaijan is greedy for all the Seljuke and Ottoman controlled lands during the 500 years of total control of the Caucases. As oldest Christian nation Armenia isn’t blessed with neighbors today who recognize its history in the region. Azerbaijan and Turkey are the result of a bloody history and treaties that solidified their existence. Georgians aren’t so helpful either. The West hasn’t been exactly fair to Armenians. And Russia has been playing the balance of power game. With its corrupt government Azerbaijan has been taking advantage of the world’s ignorance and Armenia being called separatist, despite crimes by Azeries against Armenians and Armenian history during and after the war in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
    Azerbaijan destroyed a major historic site in a region called Nakhijevan that has been leveled to ground. Today no trace of Armenian Christian history exists in the area close to the border of Iran and Nakhijevan. During the destruction inn early 2000’s UNESCO was unsuccessful to save it.
    In addition, no one has ever questioned what happened to the more than 200,000 Armenians of Nakhijevan who used to live there during early Soviet period.
    All these and more seem to be on hold in addition to Turkey’s denial of the Armenian genocide. A bad habit by these Turkic countries that has gone unpunished due to politics.

    • sylva portoian,MD said:

      For whom to ask and complain…
      About criminal, savage, Tartaric genes …
      invaded continuing their crimes, in this era… ???
      Even so-called God ignored us…
      UN stays silent… so Seljuk continuing their genociding plans
      Where to go… where to complain …
      As my beloved says, “Complaint is pain”
      We should have guns to protect our selves
      “Guns are our gods…”
      Sylva Portoian
      Written instantly
      January 17, 2020

  3. Raffi said:

    The West and OSCE are good for nothing, they are in for the sake of making some oil money for themselves, reason why Russia is gaining popularity and advancing it’s geostrategy in the world, because the West is bankrupt in values.