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News

MASSACRES AND ATTACKS AGAINST THE ARMENIAN POPULATION IN SUMGAIT ON FEBRUARY 27-29, 1988


28.02.2019


The response of Azerbaijan to the democratic will of the Armenian population in Karabagh was initially in Sumgait, and later in other settlements of the republic in the form of murders and violence often referred as genocidal acts. The purpose of mass killings and violence in Sumgait intended to terrify the Armenians with the prospect of new bloody actions and force them to abandon their struggle for Karabagh. Planned violence, slaughter and forced deportation in Sumgait were particularly cruel. All the killings without exception were done with unprecedented cruelty and in front of many citizens of Sumgait. Evidence and testimonies of these horrific events help us to build on a whole chain of fraudulent images. Numerous Sumgait Armenians were killed, burned alive and tortured as a result of three-day violence. There were hundreds of wounded, and the Armenian population of nearly 17,000 of the city was displaced. More than 200 Armenian homes were robbed and destroyed.

It would be a mistake to say that these events in Sumgait took place spontaneously. What happened on February 27-29, 1988, was quite thoroughly organized. There was a special scenario for murders and violence, which is proved by the facts that the lists with addresses of the Armenians in Sumgait were in the hands of the organizers of pogroms, the elimination of traces after the crimes, etc. Before the mass violence, lists of people of the Armenian origin were compiled. Everything was thoroughly preplanned during the organization of the crime. The Sumgait tube has been manufacturing knives, axes, and cutters and tearing pieces of clamps. Inaction of the state party, security and police was obvious. One of the key factors in "Hooligan elements" in Sumgait was impunity: no only inactivity of law enforcement agencies but, in some cases, their support of organized violence. Months after the Sumgait tragedy, in July 18 Gorbachev said that the tragedy would not have happened if the Soviet army was not late for three hours. It is difficult to agree with this opinion as the units of the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Internal Affairs arrived in Sumgait in the evening of February 28, whereas more than 10 Armenians were killed there in the evening of February 29. Meanwhile, according to eyewitness testimonies, the army units did not hurry to help after arriving in the city.

The real scale of the Sumgait events has not been completely discovered yet. According to unofficial sources, the number of killed in Sumgait was much greater. This was evidenced by the testimonies of refugees who fled to Armenia. The only information was that there were 32 victims (26 of which were Armenians), including elderly and women. Those people who managed to survive testified that the number of victims was much higher. The numbers of 100, 200, 500, and more were circulated. Only 94 people were brought to responsibility for hundreds of Sumgait pogroms. The trials of Sumgait cases have caused deep disappointment among the Armenian society. The violence and murder against the Armenians were qualified as acts having hooligan motives. The only court case, which was covered more or less in the USSR media, was the trials of three murderers - Ahmed Ahmedov, Ilham Ismailov and Yavar Jafarov, held in Moscow, at the USSR Supreme Court. The eyewitness accounts of the Sumgait events draw parallels with the genocide committed against the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915. The country's media, especially the central press and television, apparently did not admit that mass killings of Armenians in Sumgait were carried out on the national basis. Investigative bodies, which were required to accurately define the motive of the crime, indicated the hooligan motives, whereas preliminary investigative materials have clearly defined that mass violence and robbery proceeded by propaganda aimed at inciting national hostility.

Criminals who had committed genocidal acts against the Armenians still remain unpunished.

Lena Gevorgyan




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