January 20 is the heroic history of our people

32 years have passed since the events of January 20, 1990, which entered the history of the Azerbaijani people as the Bloody January tragedy. It is forever engraved in the memory of our people not only as a tragedy, but also as a day of awakening of the desire for national liberation, a glorious history of the people’s courage in their freedom.

The tragedy of January 20 began with the events in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan in the late 1980s. The support for Armenian separatism by the Soviet leadership and the position of the republic’s leadership against the national interest caused the people’s protest. The struggle for the lost land gradually turned into a nationwide movement.

On the night of January 19-20, 1990, the Soviet army committed a horrific massacre of the civilian population in order to disrupt the continuous rallies and suppress the people’s movement in the streets of Baku. That night, the operation to shoot innocent people in Azerbaijan was organized by the USSR Ministry of Defense, special forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and provocation groups of the USSR KGB. On the night of the 19th to the 20th, the central government declared a state of emergency in Baku without any warning. As a result of military aggression carried out with the participation of the Soviet army units, special forces, a large contingent of internal troops and even reserve soldiers from other regions of the USSR where Armenians live, civilians were shot in the capital, hundreds were killed, wounded and disappeared. Among the dead were minors, women, the elderly and the disabled. 147 people brutally killed, 744 injured, more than 800 arrested in Baku and other regions of Azerbaijan. This deliberate act of aggression was intended to stifle the struggle of the Azerbaijani people for democracy and national liberation, to offend the people and inflict a moral blow on them. However, all this did not frighten the Azerbaijani people; on the contrary, it increased their hatred of the Soviet empire.

The martyrs, like the heroes of the struggle for independence, were sent to the last apartment in the Alley of Martyrs on the shoulders of millions of people. The crowd at the funeral demonstrated to the whole world the courage of the Azerbaijani people, how closely they are united for a cause. The Alley of Martyrs is a symbol of the invincible will of the Azerbaijani people, a school of struggle, a sacred sanctuary, along with the great tragedy suffered by the Azerbaijani people years ago.

Over the past 32 years, the face of Azerbaijan has changed a lot. Now our country has economic strength, a strong army and success at the international level. Only the national solidarity and unity of the people has remained unchanged over the years. Our people once again demonstrated this solidarity during the Patriotic War. Thanks to the leadership of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan, President Ilham Aliyev and the bravery of the Azerbaijani army, the Patriotic War ended with a glorious victory. As part of the 44-day military operation, the armed forces established by Armenia over the years were disbanded, and our state achieved a great victory. As a result of the courage and self-sacrifice of our heroic soldiers, our ancient lands were liberated from the enemy.

Over the years, views on Bloody January have changed. In the past, we mourned for this tragedy, and we found solace in laying carnations on the graves of martyrs, now we remember with endless pride. Our union has proved that the people of Azerbaijan are strong, united and able to cope with any difficulties. This historic victory and the liberation of our lands also restored the self-confidence of the Azerbaijani people, strengthened the people’s confidence in their leader, army and its strength. This is a history. A bloody but glorious history!

Mahsati GURBANOVA, Head of the Public Relations Department of the Institute of Botany of ANAS