YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–In 1918–during the course of the Turkish-German territorial expansion in the Caucasus–the occupants created the puppet pro-Turkish unit of "Azerbaijan" which claimed historical Armenian lands–including Karabakh–said the Nagorno Karabakh Republic Foreign Ministry in a press release.
Between 1918-20–the Karabakh Armenia’s–led by the local Armenian National Council–had to defend their land from the invaders. Despite the unequal forces and numerous victims–the Karabakh people were successful.
The fate of the Capital–Shoushi–was especially tragic. At the time–Shoushi was the fifth most populated city in the Caucasus. On the nights of March 22 and 23–1920–the Turkish-Azeri troops and Kurdish bands–headed by Musavat General Sultanov attacked Shoushi–and burned down a large portion of the Armenian district. More than 20 thousand of the 30,000 Armenian population of Shoushi was lost. Thousands of Armenia’s–including women and children–were taken prisoners; others were ruthlessly killed.
Shoushi’s has endured many other tragic periods over the last 80 years. Soviet Azerbaijan continued the anti-Armenian policy by conducting organized ethnic cleansing. In 1988–the remaining Armenian population of the historic citadel of Nagorno-Karabakh was deported from the town. Since the autumn of 1991–the Nagorno Karabakh Republic’s Capital Stepanakert was systematically shelled by artillery from Shoushi which is situated much higher than Stepanakert. Complete destruction threatened Stepanakert. On May 9–1992–the Karabakh self-defense forces liberated the town by storm.
Today the deported population–including refugees from Baku–Sumgait and other towns and regions of the former AzSSR–is returning to Shoushi. The town is being restored–the economic sphere is being regulated–and social conditions are being improved.
In connection with the 80th anniversary of the Armenian pogroms of Shoushi–a number of events have taken place in Karabakh–in accordance with the resolution of the government.
In particular–a memorial stone was erected in Shoushi on March 20. The government submitted a proposal to the Republic’s National Assembly to set up March 23 as the Memorial Day for the victims of the Armenian massacres committed in Shoushi in 1920.
A special exposition was opened on March 23 in the Nagorno Karabakh Museum of Regional Studies. Minister of Foreign Affairs Naira Melkoumian and Minister of Culture–Youth and Sport Affairs Armen Sargssian participated in the opening ceremony.
In her speech–Melkoumian estimated the opening of the exposition as a significant step in presenting Shoushi’s tragedy on the state level. "Restoration of Shoushi and its Armenian spirit means restoration of the defiled national dignity," stressed Melkoumian. The Minister expressed readiness to support the museum in the implementation of the envisaged plans–and made a few specific proposals.