As it is known from the world history, not every nation can have/establish its own state. Achieving the state-building and keeping independence is a very difficult lofty purpose in the chain of difficulties arising from the realistic nature of the international relations system.
When we look at the statehood history of Azerbaijan, we can see that the Azerbaijani people paid a great costs for establishing their own states and preserving their independence. The reality of the different states established by the Azerbaijani people in different periods of history shows us a single truth. This truth is the will and determination to establish an independent state in the souls of the Azerbaijani people. The concepts of state and independence in the consciousness of the Azerbaijani people include a set of deep spiritual values that are not found in the understanding of every nation on the world.
In addition to geopolitical difficulties, the Armenian factor, which was created by emigrating Armenians to the region artificially and for specific purposes, has been an extremely important problem for Azerbaijan’s statehood in the last 150 years.
It can be said that the massacre committed by the Soviet Army in Baku on January 20, 1990 is one of the massacres that has close connections with the artificially created Armenian factor in our region. Namely, Tsarist Russia started the process of creating an Armenian State in our region, and then the Soviet administration gave great support to this process. As a result, an artificial Armenian State was created and gradually expanded on the territory of Azerbaijan. However, the process of supporting Armenians against Azerbaijan stopped after Heydar Aliyev was elected a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and became Deputy Prime Minister in 1982. This development also mobilized those who did not want to see a Muslim leader in the Soviet administration. Of course, one of the leading figures of these politicians was Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, the last leader of the USSR. One of Gorbachev’s most important features was that he naturally had the support of the Armenian lobby. Thus, the reasons why Heydar Aliyev was forced to resign from his important position in the Soviet administration in 1987 are once again understood.
It can be said with certainty that if Heydar Aliyev remained in his post, all problems for which Azerbaijan paid a great costs, especially the Nagorno-Karabakh problem, would not appear. After Heydar Aliyev’s resignation, Soviet-Armenian pressures against Azerbaijan resumed and started to increase. Armenian minorities living in Azerbaijan started to carry out aggressive separatist activities, and the support of the Soviet administration to them began to be clearly felt. All these provocations led the people of Azerbaijan to the idea of protecting their homeland and having an independent state from the USSR. Despite the fact that the constitutions of the USSR and Azerbaijan SSR gave the member states the right to leave the union, the Soviet Army invaded Azerbaijan in order to suppress the uprisings in a bloody way.
Gorbachev made the decision to mass murder unarmed innocent people. The provocations of the Armenian lobby played a major role in this decision of the Soviet leader.
At 7:27 p.m. on Jan. 19, 1990, special forces from the Soviet Union’s Committee for State Security, or KGB, called “Alpha” destroyed the general power unit of the Azerbaijan State Television Building by bombing it. The press was silenced and no visual broadcasts could be made in the country. On the same date, Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, president of the Soviet Union, issued a decree to declare emergency rule in Baku as of Jan. 20 in violation of Article 119 of the USSR Constitution and Article 71 of the Azerbaijan SSR Constitution.
As a result of this military intervention, 147 civilians were killed and 744 were seriously injured. This event went down in the history of modern Azerbaijan as “Black January“. The Soviet administration thought that it could keep the USSR alive by mass murdering people. Also, Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, supported by the Armenian lobbies, paid them his “debt of loyalty”.
In terms of international law, the January 20, 1990 massacre should be described as a crime against humanity. Because in this massacre, we see clear violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other international legal documents before the eyes of the modern world. In the light of these facts, a very important question arises – why was Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?
It was the great leader Heydar Aliyev who raised the first voice of protest against the bloody January tragedy, the crime committed against the Azerbaijani people. Against all odds, Heydar Aliyev, despite severing his connection with Soviet leadership in 1990, risked his life and organized a press conference while in Moscow and severely criticized the Soviet management which committed the Baku massacre. When Heydar Aliyev later came to power in the country, an extensive resolution containing the names of those guilty in the January 1990 massacres was adopted in the Azerbaijani National Assembly on March 29, 1994.
The Azerbaijani people once again achieved its own independence by showing determination in 1990. The source of Azerbaijani People`s determination in the 44-Day Patriotic War, which ended the Armenian occupation in 2020, was the same as it was in 1990. Under the leadership of Victorious Supreme Commander-in-Chief, President Ilham Aliyev, the Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan restored the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country.
Dr. Elsevar SALMANOV
Consul-First Secretary of the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan