Remembering Black January and the Massacre of Baku’s Armenians

Yerevan Conference Marks 20th Anniversary of Pogroms Against Armenians in Azerbaijan

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)—A conference dedicated to the 1990 massacres of Armenians in Baku took place at the Armenian National Academy of Sciences on Tuesday. The symposium brought together journalists, scholars and politicians to explore the slaughter of Baku’s Armenians that began on January 13 and continued for a week before Soviet troops were brought into the city to end the violence.

The conference featured presentations by a documentary screening of journalist Marina Grigoryan’s film, titled “Baku January 1990: Ordinary Genocide.”

Speaking at the event were: the director of the National Academy of Sciences History Institute, Ashot Melkonyan, the director of the Center for Caucasus Studies at MGIMO, Vladimir Zakharov, a member of Armenia’s Public Council, Vladimir Movsisyan, and Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan.

“When commemorating the victims, we should highlight that the only thing they are to blame for was being Armenian,” Sargsyan said in his remarks. “Armenians were killed just for being Armenian.”

The pogroms resulted in the death of an estimated 300 Armenians. They came as a direct response from Soviet Azerbaijan to the hundreds of thousands of Armenian demonstrators urging the Kremlin to allow Karabakh to be part of Armenia in 1988.

To quash the movement, Azeri OMON (special forces) units had begun a systematic pogrom of Armenia’s in Sumgait in 1988. Those massacres were followed by a series of similar assaults on Armenians in Kirovabad, Baku and later in the Shahumian district of Karabakh.

Movsisyan reiterated those points during his own presentation, describing the pogroms as the continuation of a policy begun during the 1905-1907 massacre of Armenians in Baku, Nakhichevan and Shushi.

“We witnessed the most brutal expression of that policy in Sumgayit, Gandzak and Baku,” he said.

To this day the exact number of Armenian actually killed in Baku remains a mystery as no specific records were kept of the murders. The only solid statistics available are of the refugees. Baku was emptied of its entire 250,000 strong Armenian population within days. Leaving behind all their belongings to flee the carnage, most eventually found refuge in Georgia, Russia, Armenia and Karabakh.

Unfortunately the Armenian Authorities have failed to properly convey the truth about the Karabakh conflict to the international community, Zakharov noted in his presentation. “A policy needs to be formulated and carried out at the state level to counteract Azerbaijan’s misinformation campaign,” he stressed. “A special fund should be created to translate literature on the subject from Armenian into foreign languages.”

Zakharov explained that the root cause of the massacres was the advent and spread of Pan-Turkism. “Despite an official ban of all nationalist groups in the Soviet Union, xenophobic sentiment always existed in Azerbaijan.”

“Hatred against Armenians passed on from generation to generation and today the image of Armenians as an enemy to Azerbaijan is propagated at the national level,” he added.

That hatred gave birth to the massacres of 1988-1990 and eventually escalated the situation into a war when Azerbaijani forces invaded Nagorno-Karabakh to bring it under Baku’s control.

“Baku’s failure to win that war led it to present the events of 1988-190 as a genocide against Azeris perpetrated by Armenians,” Melkonyan said, discussing the Karabakh liberation war’s impact on the historical interpretation of the events within Azerbaijan.

In his remarks, Sargsyan alluded to the possibility that Azerbaijan’s continued warmongering and threats for renewed war could bring about a new crisis in the region. He compelled Armenians to unite and be prepared for “the serious hazards and challenges ahead.”

“The need for this doesn’t stem only from the Baku Pogroms of 20 years ago but also from the present reality that Azerbaijan maintains an official policy of hatred toward the Armenians.”

The event coincided with an official memorial ceremony at the Tsitsernagapert Genocide Memorial to commemorate the victims of the 1990 pogroms.


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  2. Noubar said:

    Liberated lands around NKR – compensation for Armenian refugees
    THAT  IS IT.


  3. Hey4Life said:

    all these years Armenia has been quite and silent on this issue, while Azeris have constantly brought up Kodgalu.    I don’t get the mentality of the armenian negotiators, they should have pushed this and Sumgait issue all this time.   Azeries are trying to get as much as the can get, and make something out of nothing, while we watched on the sidelines.    Nature doesn’t like arrogant and lazy people,  we have to stop acting like one. 

    • Narine Ohanian said:

      you can call those negotiators,ignorant and stupid or maybe selfish .the wrong men in the wrong place and wrong time.apsos….

  4. Papken Hartunian said:

    ” we have to stop acting like one. ”
    Let us start act like an Armenian. How? One person must start. I propose, open an account and hire a legal firm to pursue the case in international forums. I pledge, the first $1000.00 for this cause.

  5. Greg I. said:

    I agree. Why is it this issue is hardly ever brought up? One more reason to stand in awe at how woefully inadequate Armenia’s political savvy truly is.

  6. Vacheh said:

    The picture above shows what might happen to our people down the line, if we pull back one inch in Karabagh or if we stretch too many times our friendly hands to our easterly or westerly neighbors. The pan-turkism beast is as alive as ever before, no matter if the civilized world crosses into the 21-st century. The moment that the opportunity arises for our enemies, we will see heart breaking pictures of our innocent families like the one above. May God be between us and the harm.

  7. Vazken said:

    In the civilized countries when a animal or pet mauls/kills and tests the blood of human, that animal will be destroyed by the authority, thus, not for a revenge, because the nature of animals are unlike humans have strong sense of hunter and survival instinct therefore the test of a Human Blood will change “psychology” of that animal which may kill again next time. 
    Turks, like a frenzied animals- Human look alike, they have tested Armenian blood, it happened before` many time over and it may happen again and again because they are still there and no body is doing anything about it. They should be destroyed like they do to the animals for the sake of HUMANITY.

  8. Harout said:


    • Harout said:

      I guess cause they are overwhelmingly busy robing and selling out their country!!?

  9. Harout said:

    Nakhichevan is an other Armenian Historic land that Stalin gave away to Azerbaijan!!

    • Rafael Gulmammadli (Azerbaijan) said:

      You armenian always discover “genocide” from yourself. Naxchivan is Armenian? it is Ridiculous! u must learn history (not Armenia history Worl History Real history) 1st! 8 kv km was armenia before 1918 after Soviet Empire was 29 kv km all to calculated Azerbaijan land
      why dont u say about Khojali tragedy  Who has procreated ? Who has procreated 1918 march 31
      and now u want kharabagh it not real Place this to your brain For ever

      • Papken Hartunian said:

        Mr. re- incarnated of Turk, we don’t want kharabagh, we had it from day one and now we have full jurisdiction on it. Since you are a re-inconnated Turk, you cann’ t  get it. We are ready to debate with you on khojaly and other event that you were apparently have been humilated by Armenians. One thing is undisputed that you were the one who  started to genocide your own peaceful Armenian citizens. You were the one started peaceful bombing Armenians. Well, what you expect. We were able to defend ourselves and eventully you were the one beged for cisefire agreement. We were so civilized and nice agreed to sign the cisefire.
        When, Armenians were ready to move any part of kharabagh where was populated by your people, you were given worning several days and in case of khojaly you had 30 days advance notice.  Most of you were smart and left your rersidences without being subject to the consequences of your genocidal conduct, and some were vanished. That is why there are more than one million of you living in camps for more than 16 yeras. Your government has done nothing to improve your regugee situation. There will be more generation of you under the same conditions. May be this is what Mr. Alyeve wants. By the way during 1918-1920 Armenia had 60,000 square kilometer of her land under her control. Armenia has more than 2,700 years history, where the word Azerbaijan is a persion word and as a nation consists of many tribes has not mentioned before 100 years. You do the math.

        • Anna said:

          Well saying:))) Armenian was the oldest nation on the land, in 301 they adopted Christianity, meaning everyone came alone later.
          Genocide soon or later will be accepted, the fact that Armenian were massacred and the Turks created genocide in 1915 is in history for ever,. and in 1998 Azerbaijan repeated the same…. by killing brutally Armenians.
          in 1923 Lenin called Kurds and turkes that were in Azerbaijanian and thats how the nation began. so you dont even have your own history all you do is you took from turks and put under your nation… you bloody people…

      • Anna said:

        Your comment is awaiting moderation.
        March 26, 2012 at 12:26 pm

        Well saying:))) Armenian was the oldest nation on the land, in 301 they adopted Christianity, meaning everyone came alone later.
        Genocide soon or later will be accepted, the fact that Armenian were massacred and the Turks created genocide in 1915 is in history for ever,. and in 1998 Azerbaijan repeated the same…. by killing brutally Armenians.
        in 1923 Lenin called Kurds and turkes that were in Azerbaijanian and thats how the nation began. so you dont even have your own history all you do is you took from turks and put under your nation… you bloody people…

  10. Nairian said:

    Hey4Life jan, you said it all.  How and how I agree with you dear.  Most certainly nature doesn’t like arrogant and lazy people and our government should have been looooong stopped acting like one.  Do you know what really happened in Khojali?  It was azerbaijan’s factions of government’s corruption.  They were told by Armenians to move their people out of the war zone.  The azeris not only didn’t do it; but they put their own people as a shield and they hid behind them.  It’s true, I have read it right here on the web.  Meanwhile the azeri vermin pogroms ate our beautiful young people alive.  They are worst than animals, as wild animals don’t eat up people out of hate, ultra-nationalism and there’s no words that any human being can describe their wildly disgusting horrifying and horrible behaviours.  I would like to know how much damage massacres they did to our people in Sumgait, Baku, Ganzak, and in how many other cities they carried their slaughtering against the Armenian people.  If someone can please let us know how much slaughters the azeri vermins did in each city.

    Armenia and Artsakh must never ever give back an inch of our lands to the azeri vermins.  Never.

    • Papken Hartunian said:

      I am looking to the same information. We must get together and sue Azerbaijan for its genocide in international forums. Once, I have these info , I will be glad put them on the web.

  11. Narine Ohanian said:

    men with  no diginty  like Serj Sarkissian  and Nalbandian sell their  people’s history,land,victims memory, people’s future for money using the political pressure as a cover,instead of putting pressure on the turks and azeries to give back our right if they want to do this gas pipe project.really traitors…

  12. Kachkar said:

    Armenians should also show the video of the Azeri military destroying Armenian cemetaries and Katchkars.  They have no shame. 

  13. Noubar said:

    I agree with you and your wright, Hey4Life
    Armenia is good at everything  except politics and economics

  14. Cristina said:

    Azerbaijan maintains an official policy of hatred toward the Armenians => to put it mildly… I heard that they did surveys in Azerbaijan about who or what is considered to be the biggest sin or the worst thing for them. The results were “to be Armenian” and ” to be homosexual”…

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  18. hayk said:

    Can any one tell me, whose photo is in the article? Who are those dead people? Also, who took the photos?

  19. z said:

    How pathetic
    All of those people on the picture above are buried in Baku among others, killed by soviet army forces on Jan 20th, they are identified, they are azerbaijanis and have nothing to do with sumgayit

    what a shame to speculate using pictures of dead people and call them armenians though whole world know that they are not and this all is documented

  20. John said:

    It is very understandable and pleasing to know that Armenians are hated by these mongols. I am actually proud of that. It would e scary if they didn’t. Usually people who like each other have the same values and we know that these Mongols do not have any values that we aspire too or any civilized race aspires too for that matter. Just ask the Europeans, Kurds or anyone who has had to deal with them in their history and they will tell you that the Turks and Azeri’s are the lowest form of life. These animals only understand one thing: The big stick. When you are powerful they kiss your ass otherwise when they see an opportunity their animalistic nature naturally spews and they will murder you, rob you, rape you  and then blame you as their victim. Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t Abdul Hamid murder Armenians in mass before the Genocide? Then Talaat continued that mass extermination? Have they not then denied that fact for the next 95 years avoiding any justice and restitution? Is it not true that the border closing and the economic blockade and the murders in Baku, Sumgait and the shelling of Karabagh and the all deliberate destruction of  the cultural, historical and factual Armenian heritage, just  the continuation of their goal of exterminating the Armenians? This is what they have done their whole existence. Understand this: There is no reconciliation with these mongols. There is no friendship with these Mongols. There never will be.  In fact it is our duty as Armenians to uphold this basic truth and in protecting ourselves and values we must hurt them in every way shape and form. That is the duty of all Armenians. I’m proud to be an Armenian. I’m equally proud they hate us.

  21. Papken Hartunian said:

    John, you are very right. The only good news of all of the above is that because of these reasons, Armenia one day will become supper power nation by default. I mean, she will not have other choice. With all the pitfalls in Armenia, we have been survived among our 80 millions enemies who could militarily destroy us in a minute. We have to give credit to our leaders that were able to mange to survive and not only that to have progress. We have to judge them within their context. Do not forget they all were communist just 20 years ago. Mr. Alyev and Mr. Sargisian had the same allegiance, to defend Russia. Suddenly, they have to stand against each other. You cannot expect people change over night. Your and mine mentality about Armenia are much different than these people. We have been dreaming about our free homeland all of our lives. These people’s Armenianism has artificial nature.
    I am very glad to find out about people like you, who are not many, but numbers although matters, however, as we have seen,  mots often individuals make history.

  22. Noobar Janoian said:

    How to understand Sumgait pogroms? It is not new.Turkish-Azeri Psyche is based on desert mentality, inherited. There is NO tolerance (even they have no word for in their language), mercy,love or any kind of humanitarian values. though it is now covered by western value and way of living but in the deep it is the desert, with its cruelty, savagery and hatred.No mater if they change the fez with hat.or drive a Mercedes, in the core they stay the same even a PHD from Harvard will not save them. You Armenians stay alert and be ready to hit back.

  23. Zarim said:

    My mother is of partial Armenian and partial Azeri descent. She has told me stories how even she got arrested on the streets of Baku simply because someone “accused” her of being Armenian. Had my father not been a foreigner, only God may know what would have happened to her. Stories how her Armenian neighbour had to be hidden from thugs that went around houses robbing people. These thugs, or so called heroes of Azerbaijan, came to our house to tell my mother that they didn’t like her Armenian nose! Why was my poor grandmother harrassed on the streets by those filthy Yerazis? What did she do to them? Azeris have to accept that they killed their own citizens. These Armenians were an enrichment to the city. Now they are gone and they’re not coming back.

  24. Zarim said:

    A message to all Armenians who are trying to create the image that ALL Azeris are savages: you have just proved that inhumanity exists whitin both communities. The sad thing of this all, is that only the ordinary Armenians and the ordinary Azeris have always been and always will be the victims of the howling of nationalistic dogs.

  25. vadim said:

    I am an Armenian from Baku. As many others, many family lost everything I mean everything during the 1990 pogroms. We are blessed that we are alive as the Azeri-Mongols could not find us. But everything that we owned including a car, 2 flats, and other belongings went to the Azeri-Mongols. They are still in possession of our goods. If you read that, join and unite. We need a class-action law suit against this republic. I am putting a $1K