US Congressmen issue statement on 30th anniversary of January 20 tragedy

Member of U.S. Congress’s Foreign Affairs Committee Steve Chabot stated on the 30th anniversary of January 20 tragedy.

Report informs, the statement reads that 26,000 Soviet troops attacked Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan, and its surrounding areas on the night of January 20, 1990. This vicious invasion is fixed in Azerbaijan’s national history and is remembered in the hearts of its people as ‘‘Black January’’ In the Soviet brutality, more than 145 innocent civilians died, around 800 people were injured, and hundreds were arrested.

The Soviet crackdown was meant to smother the independence movement in Azerbaijan, which was gaining momentum at the time. It proved to be a futile attempt to prop up the rule of the Communist Party, and the whole Soviet Union. It had the opposite effect, further inflaming the independence movement and strengthening other such actions throughout the former Soviet Union.

Following the events of Black January, popular sentiment drove Azerbaijan to break away from the Soviet Union and declare independence. On August 30, 1991, Azerbaijan’s Parliament adopted the Declaration on the Restoration of the State Independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan. On October 18, 1991, the Constitutional Act on the State Independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan was approved.

Azerbaijan began to receive international recognition of its newfound independence in November 1991, and shortly after that, the United States became one of the first nations to recognize the country, establishing diplomatic relations on February 28, 1992. Today, cooperation between the U.S. and Azerbaijan has blossomed to include a broad range of issues, particularly energy development and security, and we share many common interests and goals for the region.

Moreover, U.S. Congressman, co-chair of the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus Steve Cohen in his statement, commemorating the 29th anniversary of January 20 tragedy, congressman Steve Cohen described the ‘‘Black January’’ killings as one of the most tragic events in Azerbaijan’s history. He said: “On the night of January 20, 1990, approximately 26,000 Soviet troops stormed Azerbaijan’s capital city of Baku in tanks and armored vehicles. That night, the Soviet military bulldozed innocent Azerbaijanis and opened indiscriminate fire on peaceful demonstrators, including women and children. As a result of these cruel acts, 147 people killed, around 800 injured, 841 arrested, and five went missing.

The Human Rights Watch report ‘‘Black January in Azerbaijan’’ states that ‘‘among the most heinous violations of human rights during the Baku incursion were the numerous attacks on medical personnel, ambulances, and even hospitals.’’ The report concludes that the violence used by the Soviet Army constituted an exercise in collective punishment and that the punishment inflicted on Baku by Soviet soldiers may have been intended as a warning to nationalists, not only in Azerbaijan but in other republics of the Soviet Union. I offer my thoughts and prayers to the families of those who gave their lives for the independence of Azerbaijan.