Thousands Honor Victims of Sumgait Massacres

YEREVAN (Armenpress/Yerkir)–More than 10,000 people gathered at the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Dzidzernagapert on February 28 to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Sumgait massacres.

Armenian President Robert Kocharian laid a wreath on the Khachkar (cross stone) devoted to the victims of the Sumgait massacres.

Archbishop Barkev Martirosian of the Artsakh prelacy offered prayer for the souls of the victims and blessed those gathered.

Chairman of the Writers’ Union Levon Ananian–Genocide Museum Director Lavrent Barseghian–writer Zori Balayan–all stressed that what happened 15 years ago in Sumgait–Baku–and Kirovabad–fit the international definition of genocide.

"Is it not strange that after the devastating defeat in the battlefield–Azerbaijan shifted to a propaganda war and taking advantage of our passive stance–calls the Khojalu events a genocide," Levon Ananian said–and referring to the international communities inactivity concerning Sumgait said–"The virus of general impunity came back like a boomerang generating tragedies in New York and Moscow."

At the end of the gathering–Zori Balayan read a proclamation to the United Nations–presidents of Council of Europe–Russian Federation–United States and France–to qualify the events of Sumgait as a genocide.

Those gathered sounded their conviction that had the 1915 Armenian Genocide been renounced–the Sumgait tragedy would not have been staged.

The vigorous but mainly peaceful political activity in Karabagh and Yerevan in early 1988 was answered by killings. On February 27–fanatic Azeri-Turks went on a three day rampage in Sumgait–a new industrial town 20 miles from Baku–murdering members of the town’s large Armenian minority and destroying their property. According to the official Soviet account 32 died–but eyewitness reports strongly suggested the true figure ran into the hundreds. Some 20,000 Armenia’s in the town had to flee.

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