STEPANAKERT/YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–The 20th anniversary of the Sumgait massacres was marked in the Nagorno Karabakh. Republic Thursday, with officials headed by President Bako Sahakian and Karabakh residents attending a memorial to commemorate the victims of the tragedy.
Thousands of Armenia’s gathered Thursday at the Dzidzernagapert Armenian Genocide Memorial Monument to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the massacre of ethnic Armenia’s in the Azerbaijani city of Sumgait.
Deputies of the National Assembly, intellectuals, representatives of the Supreme Council of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation of Armenia and the ARF Nikol Aghbalian Students’ Union joined former residents and survivors of Sumgait to lay wreaths at the memorial and pay homage to the memory of the victims of the massacres, which were carried out on February 28, 1988 as a reaction to the budding Karabakh Movement.
20 years have passed since the Sumgait massacres, and the international community has yet to give it a proper assessment, said Artashes Shahbazian a member of the ARF faction in parliament.
Sumgait was followed by Armenian pogroms in other Azerbaijani cities, such as Kirovabad and Baku. The pogroms forced some 360,000 ethnic Azerbaijani Armenia’s to flee to Armenia, while tens of thousands more found refuge in Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union, according to Gagik Yeganian, the head of migration and refugees department.
On February 27 fanatical Azeris embarked on a three-day rampage in Sumgait, a new industrial town 20 miles from Baku, murdering members of the town’s large Armenian minority, destroying their property and pillaging their homes. According to the official Soviet account 32 died, but eyewitness reports strongly suggest the true figure was much higher. The sumgait massacre was the first mass explosion of ethnic violence in modern Soviet History.
"The Government managed to solve that big [refugee] problem in a short period of time," Yeganian said. "Today the Government continues to address the issues of the refugees and implemen’s programs targeted at providing them with permanent shelters."
Writer and publisher Zori Balayan reminded everyone in attendance that by gathering at Dzidzernagapert, the Armenian people show that nothing has been forgotten.
"Memory is also a weapon for us," he said. "We don’t keep silent, and won’t keep silent."
The participants read out a declaration, which will be submitted to the UN Security Council, the Minsk Group Co-Chairs, the UN Secretary General, the European Parliament, the European Union, the OSCE, The President of Armenia and the Speaker of the National Assembly. The declaration deman’s that the Sumgait genocide be condemned and given a proper assessment.
The 20th anniversary of the Sumgait massacre was also commemorated in Nagorno-Karabakh. Citizens and government officials, headed by President Bako Sahakian, visited the memorial in Karabakh erected to commemorate the victims of the tragedy.
Armenia’s in Tbilisi commemorated the Sumgait massacres by showing a documentary. A photo exhibition dedicated to the victims of the pogroms and the beginning of the Karabakh Movement was also unveiled in Georgia’s capital in commemoration of the massacres.