Azerbaijan & Heydar Aliyev: January 20, 1990 tragedy (PHOTO)

Azerbaijan Materials 20 January 2023 16:23 (UTC +04:00)
Azerbaijan & Heydar Aliyev: January 20, 1990 tragedy (PHOTO)

Having played a crucial role in Azerbaijan’s formation and development, Heydar Aliyev left an indelible mark in history of Azerbaijan. "Azerbaijan & Heydar Aliyev" – is a special project of Trend News Agency, dedicated to the 100-th anniversary of the national leader, which will cover key events of Heydar Aliyev's work in the years of him leading Azerbaijan.


On the night of January 19-20, 1990, as a result of military aggression of the units of the Soviet Army against Azerbaijan, its civilians, including children, women and elderly were massacred in the cities of Baku, Sumgayit, Lankaran and Neftchala by order of the USSR leadership.

Azerbaijani national leader Heydar Aliyev was one of the first top officials to publicly address this bloody tragedy. As a result of the aggression of the Soviet troops in Baku, 134 citizens were killed, and more than 600 people were injured.

On January 21, 1990, immediately after the tragic events, at the Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan in Moscow, Heydar Aliyev, demonstrating his solidarity with the Azerbaijani people, stated that he considers this act illegal, anti-democratic, contrary to humanism and the principles of the construction of the rule of law declared in the country.

Addressing the session of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Azerbaijan on March 7, 1991, Heydar Aliyev, People’s Deputy at the time, once again condemned the January 20 tragedy, saying that this military aggression was committed by the Soviet Union against the Azerbaijani people without any reason and warning. He noted that, having grossly violated the laws of the state, military units equipped with modern weapons of the Soviet army entered Baku, as a result innocent blood was shed, hundreds of people were killed, have been injured, or gone missing.

Heydar Aliyev stressed that the session of the Supreme Council should assess the January 20 tragedy. His statement on the matter triggered the beginning of a new political period in the history of Azerbaijan.

The next decisive step of Heydar Aliyev was the statement of July 19, 1991 addressed to the party organization of the Council of Ministers of the USSR. In this statement about his withdrawal from the ranks of the Communist Party, he openly stated that the communist regime was leading the country to the abyss, and the collapse of the USSR was inevitable.

In his address, Heydar Aliyev once again brought up the January 20 tragedy, condemning this anti-humanistic, unconstitutional and illegal action. He expressed hope that Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Communist Party of Azerbaijan would uncover this crime and identify the perpetrators. However, as he noted, it has already been six months, but not only have the perpetrators of this terrible crime, already known to everyone, not been named, but, on the contrary, everything possible is being done to hide them. Heydar Aliyev pointed out that history has proved more than once that bloody acts directed against one's own people cannot be forgotten and forgiven even decades later.

In July 1991, Heydar Aliyev left the ranks of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

The fact that the tragedy of January 20 was not given a political and legal assessment was one of the most worrying issues for Heydar Aliyev.

Although after January 20, 1990, the primary task of the forces in power was to analyze the tragedy, identify the perpetrators and give a political assessment at the state level, and, despite the urgent demands of the people, no measures were actually taken in this regard until 1993.

The extraordinary session of the Supreme Council of Azerbaijan, convened on January 22, 1990, left its work unfinished and did not continue discussing this issue at the next sessions. Also, the work of the commission of the Supreme Council, which was supposed to investigate the January events, remained unfinished.

In 1993, after Heydar Aliyev returned to lead the country as president, a full political and legal assessment at the state level was given to the January 20 tragedy.

At a meeting held on January 12, 1994, Heydar Aliyev, who was already the president of Azerbaijan, said that the people were subjected to aggression, the perpetrators have not yet been identified, and, apparently, those responsible for the January 20, 1990 tragedy have not begun to tell the people about the true essence of this great tragedy, in their own interests.

Heydar Aliyev’s decree "On holding the 4th anniversary of the January 20 tragedy" dated January 5, 1994 stated: "On January 20, 1990, which went down in the history of our people as the January tragedy, Azerbaijan gave its first martyrs in the name of its freedom and independence. A time interval of 4 years separates us from that very day, inscribed in history with blood. Unfortunately, during these 4 years, the events of January 20 were not given the necessary political and legal assessment at the state level".

In the decree, the Milli Majlis (Azerbaijani Parliament) was recommended to give the events of January 20 a full political and legal assessment, and to this end consider holding a special session of the parliament.

As a result of discussions in the parliament, a decision was made on March 29, 1994, when, finally, a full political and legal assessment of the bloody tragedy of January 20, 1990 was given at the state level. In the decision, the events of January 20, 1990 were regarded as military aggression and a crime on the part of the totalitarian communist regime in order to suppress the national liberation movement unfolding in Azerbaijan, to break the faith and spirit of the people who stood up to fight for the idea of a sovereign state.

The document reflected the fact that the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the Soviet state and the government, and Mikhail Gorbachev personally committed a grave crime against Azerbaijan, as well as the fact of treason to Azerbaijani people by Abdurrahman Vezirov, Ayaz Mutalibov, Viktor Polyanichko, Vagif Huseynov. Along with other issues, it was noted that the chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Azerbaijan SSR, Elmira Gafarova, the first secretary of the Baku City Committee of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan, Muslim Mammadov, are responsible for committing this bloody tragedy.

Heydar Aliyev has never ignored the memory of martyrs and their families. The president, who personally visited the Alley of Martyrs on all the anniversaries of the January 20 tragedy, expressed condolences to the families of the martyrs on behalf of the Azerbaijani people, and was closely interested in their problems. The president assessed this tragedy as a great historical event, and stated that the brave sons of Azerbaijan, sacrificing themselves, cleared the way for the national liberation of the Azerbaijani people, for the independence of the country. The president noted that the Alley of Martyrs is the most sacred and valuable place for the Azerbaijani people.

At a meeting with the leadership of the Academy of Sciences, full members and corresponding members, directors of institutes and leading scientists on January 31, 1997, Heydar Aliyev said that Azerbaijani people should draw a historical conclusion from this, and should never bend, or break, adding that the interests of the nations should be above the life of every person.

With due regard to the January 20 tragedy, Heydar Aliyev spoke about the historical lessons that these events taught, at each meeting.

At a meeting with a group of employees of the Ministry of National Security on March 28, 1998, Heydar Aliyev also mentioned the importance of an in-depth analysis of the January 20 tragedy.

Heydar Aliyev has always regarded the tragedy of January 20 as the bloodiest, in fact, terrorist act against humanity, regretting that the organizers and perpetrators of this terrible crime still remain unpunished.