26 years ago on 26-29 February 1988 an act of genocide was carried out against Armenian population of Sumgait city of Azerbaijani SSR. In terms of actual complicity of local authorities and inaction of the USSR government mass pogroms and killings of Armenians were carried out, the crimes against humanity that shook the International Community by their savage and brutal nature. This is stated in the article of Ruben Zargaryan published in the newspaper “Komsomolskaya Pravda”.
As it is stated in the article, the massacres in Sumgait, which is located hundreds of kilometers away from Nagorno Karabakh, were the response to the legitimate expression of the will of people of Nagorno Karabakh to unite with Armenia, an integral part of which Nagorno Karabakh had been during millions of years till the Soviet era. Nagorno Karabakh was a vivid example of systemic Armenophobic policy of Azerbaijani government.
“Mass killings of Armenians in the “cosmopolitan” Sumgait were intended to block the possible solution of the problem by the Centre of the Union as well as to frighten the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh with the prospects of new massacres, to make them neglect their natural right to freedom and dignity. Dozens of innocent people were killed with sadistic cruelty on the basis of national origin,” the author states.
According to the article, on last day of Sumgait massacres of Armenians, on February 29, 1988 meeting of Politburo of Central Committee of CPSU took place in Kremlin, where it was for the first time officially noted that the pogroms and massacres in Sumgait were carried out on national basis, against people of Armenian origin.
As the author states, the genocide against Armenians in Sumgait was thoroughly planned in advance. “Co-chairman of the Social-Democratic Party of Azerbaijan Zardusht Alizadeh writes about the first rally of the Azerbaijani youth in front of the Central Committee of CP in Azerbaijan that took place already on February 19, 1988 (before the decision of Oblast Council of People’s Deputies of NKAO was made on 20 February 1988) and about an attempt of Armenian pogroms in Baku.”
It is stated in the article that during the anti-Armenian rallies that started on 26 February, in the central square of Sumgait, the heads of the city openly called for the violence against the Armenians, created an atmosphere of mass hysteria and psychosis. On 27 February the thugs armed with the pre-fabricated metal rods and other piercing weapons, launched a planned criminal action. The thugs clearly knew their tasks, having the pre-compiled list of Armenian citizens and their addresses. Split into groups of 50-80 people, they broke into the apartments of the Armenians, killed them not only in their houses but took them out of their houses into the courtyards and publicly mocked them. After painful bullying the victims were doused with gasoline and burnt.
“Entire families were destroyed. In this same way all the members of Melkumyan family were killed. Soghomon Markarovich , 57 years old , Raisa Arsenovna, 54 years old, Edward, 28 years old, Igor , 31 years old and Irina, 27 years old. After being beaten, raped and grievously wounded their bodies were burnt,” the author writes.
The article also contains some excerpts from the testimony recorded in the protocols of the court hearings of Azerbaijani thugs. So Zarbalaev told that “when on 29 February, 1988 the crowd approached 5a house, a group of boys immediately entered the first entrance…in 10 minutes the boys were drugging 50 years old man out of entrance. He was surrounded by 15-20 people who started to beat him with an axe, knives, and wooden sticks. Then one of the boys took the burning mattress and covered the man with it. Others threw different things on him.”
Witness Atlukhanov said that on their way to the train station Akhmedov and he both saw a naked murdered girl in the reeds, while near the traffic lights a bloody man was lying on the ground…APCs were there but they didn’t intervene either.
“The Azerbaijani authorities committed a crime against humanity in Sumgait, the victims of which were 36 Armenians (this is a recorded number, but in fact the number of killed were much higher), among whom were pregnant women, children and old men. Hundreds were injured, many of whom remained maimed, while thousands became refugees,” the article reads and notes that immediately after the pogroms the authorities of Azerbaijan SSR implemented measures to hide the traces of the crime, tried to destroy the physical evidence.
The author regrets that to this day the genocide, organized in Sumagit from 27 to 29 February of 1988 hasn’t received an adequate political and legal assessment at the state level.
“It is clear that the absence of an adequate political and legal assessment of Sumgait tragedy, impunity, created a precedent for subsequent genocide of Armenians in Baku in January 1990 and for analogous crimes in other regions of Azerbaijan as well as on the territory of Nagorno Karabakh,” the author writes.
The article notes that on February 1992 the Azerbaijani leadership carried out the murder of its own nation on the territory of Khojalu which was under the control of Azerbaijani armed forces, specifically near Aghdam, from where the continuous bombardment of NKR whole territory was carried out and from where attacks on villages and cities of Karabakh were launched.
“The authorities of Azerbaijan systematically falsify the events in Khojalu. The photo materials presented by Azerbaijan are photos combined by computer and present other historical events in other geographical locations. The photos that allegedly show the Khojalu tragedy, in reality are the photos of the earthquake of Turkey 1983, Afghan children refugees, the pogroms of Alawites in 1978 in the Turkish city of Marash, the killed Albanians in Kosovo, pogroms of 1999 in Balkans, Hamas militants killed by Israeli Army,” the author writes.
According to him, regularly playing the card of “Khojalu”, the official Baku tries to divert the attention of International Community from the genocide against Armenians in Sumgait, Baku, Kirovabad, Khanlar and in other parts of Azerbaijan as well as in the border communities of NKR.
The author notes that in the course of large-scale aggression of Azerbaijan against Nagorno Karabakh Republic from 1991 to 1994, in the Karabakh village Maragha that was captured for several hours by Azerbaijanis on April 10 of 1992 more than 80 people were brutally killed, while 67 were taken as a hostages, the fate of many of them is still unknown. Those villagers that didn’t manage to leave the village were dismembered by axes, doused with gasoline and burned though being alive.
“In Azerbaijan instead of repenting for endless autocracies and brutality, instead of conviction of the criminals, we now see and hear only saber rattling and threats of revenge, terroristic calls to shoot civilian planes, falsification of historical facts and an ongoing racist, misanthropic insult of Armenian people,” the author writes.
Zargaryan emphasizes that the shame of release and glorification of axe-murderer Safarov in Azerbaijan once more demonstrated to the International Community that in Azerbaijan the murder on national basis is a state policy, while the deliberate and systemic lies and failures of international agreements underpin the policy conducted by Baku.