MOSCOW, Russia (Panorama.am)—A ceremony of laying flowers to commemorate the innocent Sumgait Armenian massacre victims on February 27-29, 1988 took place at the Armenian Apostolic Church in Moscow on Tuesday, press service of the Armenian Embassy in Russia reported.
According to the statement, Ambassador of Armenia to Russia Oleg Yesayan, permanent representative of the Republic of Artsakh in Moscow Albert Andryan, representatives of various agencies of Armenia in the Russian Federation and the Armenian Community took part in the event.
Yesayan noted in his speech that the massacre of the Armenians, which took place 29 years ago, has not received a corresponding legal and political assessment yet.
“Currently, Azerbaijan attempts to hide from the nation the truth about the Sumgait events. Events, which took place near Aghdam 25 years ago, also serve the same purpose,” he said. “The Azerbaijani side presents those events in a completely falsified way and calls them ‘Khojaly genocide’ in order to attribute them to the Armenians and hide the real scene in that way.”
According to Yesayan, official Baku uses the so-called “Khojaly events” for political and propagandistic purposes trying to divert attention from the Armenian genocide in Sumgait, Baku, and Maragha.
On February 26-29, 1988, in terms of actual complicity of local authorities and inaction of the USSR government, mass pogroms of civilians were organized in Sumgait city of Azerbaijani SSR, accompanied by unprecedented brutal murders, violence and pillaging against the Armenian population of the city. Armenian pogroms in Sumgait were carefully organized. At the meetings, which began on February 26 in the central square, city leaders openly called for violence against the Armenians.
On February 27, protests, which were attended by hundreds of rioters, turned into violence. Armed with axes, knives, specially sharpened rebar, rocks and cans of gasoline and with the pre-compiled lists of apartments where Armenians lived the rioters broke into the houses, turning everything upside down there and killing the owners. At the same time, people were often taken out to the streets or to the courtyard for jeering at them publicly. After painful humiliations and torture the victims were doused with gasoline and burnt alive. On February 29 army troops entered Sumgait but without an order to intervene. Only in the evening, when the mad crowd began to attack the soldiers the military units took up decisive steps.
The exact number of victims of Sumgait pogroms is still unknown. According to official data, 32 people were killed; however there is ample evidence that several hundred Armenians have been killed in the city in three days. There is also evidence that the riots were coordinated by KGB in Azerbaijan. Executioners of Sumgait were subsequently declared as national heroes of Azerbaijan.
On February 26, 1992, during the Karabakh war, around 200 to 300 people (according to Human Rights Watch, and 600 according to the version propagated by Azerbaijan) were killed in unknown circumstances near the city of Aghdam. They were deliberately withheld by the Azerbaijani authorities in the midst of the military actions. The authorities of Azerbaijan intentionally kept the population in the village for months by force and did not evacuate them in order to use them as human shields later as the village was one of the firing points for shooting at the blockaded Stepanakert (among five others).
The residents of Khojaly, coming out through the humanitarian corridor the self-defense forces of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic had left open, freely passed more than 10 km and reached the Aghdam city controlled by the Azerbaijani troops. Later, dead bodies of the villagers were found not far from the positions of Azerbaijani troops. The exact death toll remains unknown as the official Baku publishes data contradicting each other. Parliamentary Commission investigating the tragic death of the civilians at Aghdam city was dissolved by the order of Heydar Aliyev, the investigative materials are kept secret.