On January 20, the people of Azerbaijan mark the 27th anniversary of a tragedy, which became a turning point in the national struggle for independence, sovereignty and unity.
In an attempt to suppress the will of the Azerbaijani people to regain its independence and sovereignty, the Soviet regime masterminded clashes among civilians and used extremist groups to instigate unrest to justify the introduction of state of emergency in Baku and subsequent illegal military intervention.
27 years ago, on the night of 19 and 20 January 1990, acting upon the orders of the USSR Communist Party leadership, 26 000 Soviet troops, heavily armed and equipped with military combat vehicles, attacked Baku to suppress Azerbaijan’s independence movement. As a result of this terror act, which is referred to as Black January, more than 130 civilians were brutally killed and 700 wounded, hundreds of people were arrested and subjected to various forms of physical pressure by the Soviet military forces with the aim of suppressing the people’s desire for independence.
Despite drastic restrictions imposed on international reporters to cover these events, reports on the crimes by the Soviet military were published in the international media. On January 22, 1990 the Washington Post was quoting an eyewitness, who said, "Soviet soldiers fired at almost anything that moved in the early hours of their occupation." According to a report published by the Human Rights Watch, "among the most heinous violations of human rights…were the numerous attacks on medical personnel, ambulances and even hospitals." The report further stated that the punishment inflicted on Baku by Soviet soldiers appeared to have been intended as a warning to Azerbaijan as well as to other republics of the Soviet Union seeking independence. Among first to tell the world about the Soviet crime of January 20 was formerly the highest-ranking Azerbaijani in the USSR, Heydar Aliyey, who courageously spoke out against the brutality of the Soviet regime.
The heroism of the people of Azerbaijan on January 20, 1990 made the final collapse of the Soviet Union inevitable. On October 18, 1991 Azerbaijan regained its independence and started to rebuild its statehood.
On the occasion of the 27th anniversary of the Black January events the Azerbaijani people with deep respect pay tribute to its martyrs and remain united in its path of strengthening the independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan and restoring its territorial integrity.