Speech of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev at the republic-wide ceremony dedicated to the memory of the martyrs of January 20, 1990 - Baku, January 19, 2000

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Dear compatriots!

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

These are the days of grief of Azerbaijan people. We mark the 10-th anniversary of the bloody January tragedy. Today I once again bow my head before memory of victims who were killed on that terrible night in the name of the native land, in the name of freedom, in the name of independence.

The 20th of January, 1990 is the most tragical day in history of Azerbaijan. But at the same time, that night, that day the Azerbaijan people demonstrated to all the world the heroism, courage, selflessness and their ability becoming even martyrs. Therefore, on this day we always grieve and mourn. But at the same time we feel colossal pride that our are heroic people, staunch and unshakable people.

In history of Azerbaijan people, in particular, in XX century, there were many tragical events: the slaughters, of Azerbaijanis genocide made in 1918 by Armenians. Repressions, terrors perpetrated against the people and the nation after establishment of the Soviet Power in Azerbaijan, mass repressions against our people in 1937-1938. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with a view of military aggression against Azerbaijan followed in 1988 and as well as the annihilation of our sons.

However, among them the biggest impact put to Azerbaijan people, the biggest aggression, terror and tragedy took place on January 20, 1990. The tragical events listed by me, all tragical events about which, probably, I do not remember now, have been directed against the separate persons, separate groups, for example, the genocide perpetrated by Armenians in 1918, the Armenian-Azerbaijani relations pursued the purpose to grasp the lands of Azerbaijanis and to perish Azerbaijanis. However, January events, January tragedy differ from all these tragedies, that this night the Soviet state under whose authority we have been during many years, the Soviet power and the Azerbaijan communist power perpetrated mass aggression against Azerbaijan people. That is the aggression made by state, government and authority against people, naturally, is the most terrible, the most tragical and thereby differs from the political viewpoint from all others.

As looking back in history, it is possible to say that in the USSR from the moment of the establishment of the Soviet Power and before January events, it has never been accomplished anywhere similar military aggression against people, the citizens, against any people by the Soviet Power. It has not been accomplished against any republic, any nation. It has been accomplished against us, against Azerbaijan people. It was aggression, terror not only be the leadership of the USSR, but the Soviet State together with the Azerbaijan`s authority, making at that time unity and trying to crush and break people.

After the Second World War, the government of the USSR has committed aggressions against some of the countries. In 1956, the Soviet armies brought troops into Hungary because Hungarian people did not agree with the Soviet ideology, they wanted to go on its way and incursion of troops into Hungary by the Soviet armies was realized and shed a lot of blood in order to turn off their road and to crush them. The people incurred victims. The Soviet ideology strengthened there its authority.

In 1968 the processes, developing in Czechoslovakia, led to the danger of its leaving the bloc of the socialist countries. And then the government of the USSR brought the troops into Czechoslovakia and prevented movement, strengthened its authority there.

In 1979 the USSR brought large military units into Afghanistan with the purpose of rendering aid to the forces, which desired to create government on the basis of Soviet ideology, there was shed blood.

Why do I recall all this? Because in all these cases the Soviet regime, the Soviet State has conducted similar aggressions in different countries for the purpose of establishing and strengthening of its authority.

But Azerbaijan people have lived in the structure of this state more than 70 years, we have been the citizens of this country under the leadership of this authority. It means that our people had to be native for this power, for the Communist power. But this did not happen and as a whole, it was as the result of attitude to the Azerbaijan people. The reason of it, undoubtedly, was connected with the aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan, started in 1987-1988.

At the end of 1987, beginning of 1988 Armenian authority and the chauvinist forces there started an attempt to annexation of Upper Garabagh to Armenia. Such attempts were also made in the past times, i.e., beginning since 1923, after the formation of Nagorno-Garabagh Autonomous Region in the structure of Azerbaijan, in different times attempts were undertaken for annexation of Upper Garabagh to Armenia as well. But all these have been prevented, since the Azerbaijan leadership was able to protect its republic, and the Soviet State considered a change dangerous in the political system. However, in 1987, perhaps earlier, in Armenia there was already a state of public mind to separate of the Upper Garabagh from Azerbaijan and annex it to Armenia and later there started a movement. And just this time there appeared dual standard, i.e., different attitude of Soviet government and the leadership of the Communist Party to Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Naturally, the Soviet State was still very strong at that time and if the leaders of the USSR would like to stop it, they could have done it, and if the leaders of Azerbaijan were true to their people, and native land, then they could prevent this as well. But those, who were in Moscow, did not want to intercept it, on the contrary, they created condition for this. However, the leaders of Azerbaijan were simply inactive, and thus in February, 1988 the Upper Garabagh incident occurred. After this, the leadership was replaced in Azerbaijan - allegedly, in order to solve Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, and for the strengthening the leadership here. However, a new leadership not only manifested incapacity or incompetence, but also embarked on the path of treachery. This treachery - treachery by the government of Azerbaijan to its people, and a careless attitude of the USSR leaders to Azerbaijan, I would say, negative attitude, turned the Upper Garabagh incident into the war, and Azerbaijan got a huge blow. Naturally, the 20th January became the large component of this policy and this chain.

Actually, our people at that time stood on their feet to protect its territory, its sovereignty. The main reason of the rise of people was both the unjust line of the head of the Soviet government taken against Azerbaijan, and at the same time, the leaders of Azerbaijan, who did not take proper measures for the protection of their land, nation and people. All this caused people in Azerbaijan to get on their feet, and they demonstrated their might. People went out to the squares, they came out into the streets.

It was necessary to strike a blow to Azerbaijan in order to punish entire people, in order to break the people and to solve thus a problem of the Upper Garabagh in favor of Armenia, and this blow was realized. Military aggression against Azerbaijan was committed. They delivered physical shock upon Azerbaijan. They delivered political impact upon Azerbaijan. They delivered moral shock upon Azerbaijan. The culprits of this were both leadership of the USSR and the government of Azerbaijan. Today everything has been very vividly clearly reflected in the documents circulated here.

The representatives of our respected intelligentsia, the mother of martyr, the daughter of martyr, people, who got mutilations at that night on 20 January, very sincerely spoke here at the ceremony. To tell you the truth that from the beginning of this evening and till now - I think, and I suffer you too very much exciting feelings because of viewing and recollecting this historical chronicle, displaying of these terrible events and opinions and the words said here are very impressive. Therefore, I am very much excited and I am speaking in an agitated tone. As a whole, holding this kind of evening for the first time, I assume, displays our boundless love to our history, our nation, and people. I thank everyone who has arranged this evening and delivered speech here.

It has very big political, ethical and moral value.

Because, firstly we should never forget and distort our history. The history is history, and it must be written, transferred from generation to generation as it is.

Ten years have passed since the tragical January night. In these ten years children were born in Azerbaijan. The children, who are 10 years old today, were born in 1990. I was informed that on January night 135-136 Azerbaijan citizens became martyrs, were killed, many were wounded. However, more than 500 children were born on that night in Azerbaijan. It means, people lives, the nation lives, grows, develops, and no aggression, no terror, no treachery can stop development of our people.

However, we are alive witnesses of those days. 10 years old children hear about it only from us. Even the 20 years old youths, being at that time at age of 10, probably, did not realize, and could not have realized all that happened. Therefore, eventually we should remember glorious pages, successful pages of our history, and its tragical pages, transfer it from generation to generation. In this connection, a tragedy on January 20 and at the same time the heroism, courage and unity of people demonstrated in those days, should become an example for all - both present, and the future generations. Everyone should learn a lesson from this event.

We saw obviously from the documents, speeches, film sequences demonstrated here, in what heavy situation was Azerbaijan over the night from 19 to 20-th January and on January 20-21. When a great quantity of military units, armoured vehicles, tanks have entered into such a city as, Baku, naturally, a person could not be quiet, and not only Baku, but also all Azerbaijan was at that time in confusion. What did the analysis of those days conducted today here prove? The analysis proved that people have had many martyrs, but they were not broken, and did not bow. However, the leaders of people remained traitors up to the end.

When someone`s a person close people dies, his relatives, friends, fellow workers by all means come on his funeral, the mourning ceremony and share sorrow with his family. But here the aggression has been made against Azerbaijan people, our people have had martyrs. The nation people united express hatred to perpetrators of this tragedy, and see off the martyrs to their final home. However, the heads of Azerbaijan people stand aside of it, and disappear. Only this fact evidently shows who is who.

Having overcome the big obstacles, a group of deputies held session of the Supreme Soviet, and the outstanding poet of Azerbaijan Bakhtiyar Vahabzadeh, who has never in his life presided over a meeting, because he always wrote verses and developed poetic art of Azerbaijan, and he is short of experience in this sphere, but he has brave heart, he loves his people, he didn`t fear, he was not afraid of anything. And besides he was not sinful before the people and never betrayed anybody.

The deceased Ismayil Shikhly and other representatives of intelligentsia did the same. The sequence has been shown here. Unfortunately, not all the films have been preserved. However, the film sequence we saw, completely displays who is who. How could happen that a poet Bakhtiyar Vahabzadeh, writer Ismayil Shikhly and other representatives of intelligentsia or group of deputies of the Supreme Soviet could gather in a hall and discuss the issue, but the heads of Azerbaijan people ran away or disappeared? Consequently, they have completely lost the right to supervise over people.

The decisions and addresses adopted by that session, - it was sounded here - have historical significance. We should highly evaluate it. Personally I give such an estimation to these documents. However, when after some days, those who ran away and disappeared, they returned again to authority in Azerbaijan, later on and all these documents were forgotten, put aside, all have been latent from eyes of people. The concrete facts in this connection today have been here listed too and there is no necessity to repeat them.

So, if the government of the USSR, and the Azerbaijan power have together carried out aggression against Azerbaijan people prior to January 20, later subsequently both parties tried to justify it. In Moscow there was an atmosphere, as if nothing happened. And in Azerbaijan one escaped, another person replaced him and thus people were forgotten, the tragedy was forgotten too, everything was forgotten and there was a consistent attempt to neglect this issue. The traitors who having lost the right to supervise people, have again considered their personal interests above interests of people, the nation. All these are the historical realities.

However, today we can be proud that our people, I reiterate, has shown courage and heroism.

It is impossible to observe without excitement the film shots on ceremony of martyrs funeral. It seems to me - anyway, all of us know the history, - there has never been so populous and so impressing funeral ceremony in Azerbaijan before. The activity of Sheik-ul-islam Allahshukur Pashazadeh at that time deserves a high estimation as well, both and his address directed to Gorbachev and his attitude to this issue. He expressed to the perpetrators of this crime and lead and carried out the funeral ceremony. As a matter of fact, the heads of all branches of Azerbaijan power stood a back from this. Now you see, there can not be a greater moral sin and moral treachery.

But people were afraid of nothing. People did not fear that those tanks could be sent back crush them again. There were crowds of people on Freedom square, in all streets, up to the Upland Park.

I was not in Azerbaijan at that time. I immediately expressed my attitude. You should know that I was sick at that time. Being a patient, I was in hospital for a short time and then for sometime in a sanatorium rehabilitation located in a remote region of Moscow. Despite it, I came there with my children and expressed my attitude. I could not do anything else, and today I thank those Azerbaijan citizens, those persons who very truly chose a burial place for martyrs and buried them in Upland Park. Here, they have also expressed their attitude to the past treachery in a certain degree.

In 1918, as a result of the massacre perpetrated by Armenians, the cemetery was located there, people were buried. In 1930 s, it was destroyed, created Upland Park and there was erected a monument to Kirov. The truth of history is that the treachery accomplished at that time against these tombs, now has been revealed, and the martyrs have again been buried there.

Carrying out my duty from the beginning of this event - since January 21, 1990 till now, I tried, try and I will try to shed a full light on this event. I will try to call the criminals to account and nobody can escape from the responsibility for a crime perpetrated before his people. Even he can escape physically, he will remain as the criminal before the history.

To create a memorial of "Eternal Torch" in Martyrs Avenue was a desire in my heart. It was also my duty as the President of Azerbaijan. Today I find some consolation that I have done my duty, and this place really, as it was said here, became a place of the oath, belief, the most honorable of the nation. It is already several days that we see how people on the demand of their heart and with flowers in hands visit these tombs, bow their heads before "Eternal Torch", before tombs. I believe, as henceforth here will always be a place of the oath of our youth, a place of the oath of fidelity to the people, the nation and the Native land. At the same time it will be a place of the oath of fidelity to each other for our youth who set up new families.

At the same time the tragedy gave a push for realization of the big processes in our country. Azerbaijan has gained its state independence. It is already the ninth year that Azerbaijan people live in the independent state.

In a life we are confronted with set of difficult problems. All of us suffer the problem of occupation of our territories by Armenian armed forces and forcibly exiling from these lands more than one million of our citizens, who are residing in tents. There are also other problems. However, we survive and we will go through this heavy, difficult period. The occupied lands will be freed, our citizens will return to their native homes, the sovereignty of Azerbaijan will be ensured, because today Azerbaijan is the independent state, and no state has the right for infringing upon Azerbaijan.

The biggest monument to the memory of our martyrs is a sovereignty of Azerbaijan, independent Azerbaijan, the legal, democratic, secular Azerbaijan state and positive processes going on in Azerbaijan now. Let all martyrs, not only martyrs of January 20, but also our sons becoming martyr in fights for the Native land, rest in peace, since their dreams, expectations have come true - Azerbaijan has gained the national independence.

Today before memory of martyrs I swear that nobody will encroach the independence of Azerbaijan, we will never be vassals of this or that state. The state independence of Azerbaijan will live and develop, despite the difficulties and the pressure rendered on us. Independent democratic Azerbaijan, the legal, secular Azerbaijan state will become majestic monument for our martyrs.

I once again express my gratitude to all who have arranged this mourning party and delivered speech here. Let Allah rest souls of martyrs.
Translated from "Azerbaijan newspaper", January 20, 2000