Tuesday, January 19

I remember... 20 years exactly from today

January 20th, 2010- 20 years gone but the memories are as alive as they never been before.

I remember...

It was the middle of the night, January 19th 1990, tanks started passing by our house... I remember... My mother screamed so loud that I still hear the sound of her voice in my ears every time I think of that night... I was standing by the window, trying to make out the huge machines that were coming... Back then I didn't know what was going on, I was only 7 but I knew it was not good. My mother's concerned face wasn't good. She was afraid and so were many others that night.

That night Soviet troops crashed barricades storming the capital. There was shooting everywhere.

A relative who was out that whole night, was pale white when he returned home the next morning, remembers my mother. He couldn't utter a word. Only later did he speak of what he saw that night outside- there were tanks running over people he said, soldiers ruthlessly shooting everyone, there was no mercy, no nothing.

My mom remembers how the next day she went to buy bread and she saw a man's shoe full of blood.

Four days after the attack, a statement issued by Kremlin called the incident as "security operation to constrain hooliganism and Islamic extremism in Azerbaijan"- it was their way to deal with the rising Popular Front and all those who stood behind it.

The world remained silent to these attacks not like in the Balkans or elsewhere.

I remember...

Every year, on January 20th, schools would have "Black January" day commemorating those who fell. Songs of pain and hurt would be sang, poems of heroes would be read, people would remember and tears were
shed...

We would visit the Martyr's Square, putting red carnations on those who fell- innocent people who died that night for reasons that I only understand now- freedom, faith, independence...

I remember...

20 comments:

Onnik Krikorian said...

I don't doubt the account of Black January and what the Soviet army did, but what I find unfortunate is the lack of mention of the anti-Armenian pogrom which preceded it and which gave Moscow the reason it needed to move in.

Oh, and yes, the situation with Armenian accounts of the Baku pogrom are also concerning, with the death toll inflated and the Russians seen as some humanitarian intervention force despite credible accounts to the contrary.

However, it strikes me that January 1990 was a key month for both Armenians and Azerbaijanis, marking the real start of escalation towards war. What concerns me, though, is the selective chronology of events taught to both sides.

Both were victims, but few remember that, and only remember their dead during a tragic period which might very well have been manipulated and exploited by those eager to see ethnic conflict erupt in the Caucasus.

Personally speaking, this is why I believe there needs to be frank and painful discussion about what really occurred in January 1990, and actually, the preceding two years leading up to it.

Anonymous said...

Arzu,

I remember that day too. At that time we did not live in Baku so I was not in that city. I did not see any killing and my mom did not tell me stories.
But I remember very vividly my dad's face on that day late evening. I was horrified to see his darkened face, hear deep voice trying to mumble something, and my mom's dropped jaw. There was tension in our house. for days to come. Mom cried. Dad became silent. I was confused. Dad worked at "raykom", neighbors called him "mangurt" so it was especially painful for him.
When I lived in Azerbaijan I visited Alley of Martyrs every year on January 20.
Scars are too deep for some of us..
But hey, thanks for the post. I appreciate your memories.

a peasant from Baku/AlefJim

Malek said...

@ Onnik: it's clearly seen that what you don't DOUBT is genocide against armenian (again lovely horse)... what you certainly DOUBT is genocide against Azerbaijanis... why do you DOUBT then more than 2 centuries genocide of Armenians against Azerbaijanis? when will you find fortunate (or courage) to admit it and take all the responsibilities for your nations' actions?
Onnik, quit playing with your lovely horse - "genocide of great ancient nation"... want to say something - say wise. could you show respect to the grief of the country where still live representatives of your nation - in contrary with yours, where no Azerbaijani is left?..

scaryazeri said...

@ Malek: It always fascinated me how blind hatred can make people misinterpret every word- however they fancy.

All those events of the Gara Yanvar were tragic. Including the pogroms. My unckle got sick as he watched (from his window) an old man getting thrown off the 5th floor balcony.

I am a fan of the conspiracy theory and can easily believe that the whole pogrom thing was a major set up. Maybe, I just dont want to believe that normal Baku people could suddenly (and in a very professional and organized fashion)lose the plot and become vicious murderers. However. It did happen. And it was a nightmare. I remember many of us panicked, stayed at home, worried to death of what was to happen next.

"Selective chronology" is not just typical of us though. What Onnik was saying here is that Armenians, unfortunately, are not any better at admitting anything that does not suit them either. But neither is the rest of the world.
I mean, look at Israel and Palestine. News only get reported highlighting whatever they need to highlight on their "side".

Onnik Krikorian said...

Malek, I think you see my surname and automatically assume you think you know what I'm about. It's understandable, but...

It's actually quite wrong. In fact, I admit the unthinkable things that Armenians and Azerbaijanis have done to each other.

And actually, that all human beings have done to the other and will continue to do. Both the past and the present shows that.

Meanwhile, I do not like the term "genocide" used in this region at all. The word itself has become more important than events.

Armenians claim a "genocide" in Sumgait and Baku while Azerbaijanis say the same about Khodjali. However, both are not right.

Neither fits the definition of the word. They were, however, all terrible massacres of innocents. As I'm sure Black January was.

Nevertheless, each side continues to do what Tom de Waal refers to as starting history at a point convenient to them.

In the case of Black January there is no mention of the pogrom which preceded it on the Azerbaijan side. This seems to be a missing fact.

And at the same time, Armenians talk about Sumgait and Baku, but not about inter-ethnic violence in Armenia or NK before then.

That said, it was not all Armenians and Azerbaijanis, but the minority that did have defined the present. Unfortunately, this is the reality.

Both Armenia and Azerbaijan defined their independence with ethnic-conflict and each blames the other while not admitting both suffered.

And today, unfortunately, the Karabakh conflict defines local politics just as it defined independence.

History in this region is subjective and selective on both sides, and instead of looking at problems in the present...

Well, people continue to remain stuck in their own very different interpretations of the past instead of looking to the future.

And I'm sure that suits the regimes -- as well as the opposition -- in both countries just fine. I mean, let's fact it.

They've nothing else to offer to the citizens of either, but need to use something to justify and perpetuate the present system.

That is, undemocratic practices, human rights abuses and massive corruption. Anyway, those that know me will disagree with you.

In fact, just as you've accused me of being some kind of nationalist, last week I was accused by an Armenian of being anything but.

I abhor all violence, and think that people should get on with people. The nationalists don't want this, though.

And subjective, selective accounts of history on all sides don't help break a vicious circle which has defined this region for too long.

Onnik Krikorian said...

could you show respect to the grief of the country where still live representatives of your nation - in contrary with yours, where no Azerbaijani is left?..

Oh, and Malek, please take a look at my comments on these articles. I think I did exactly what you say I haven't:

http://www.armenianow.com/hy/comment/reply/9396

http://www.armenianow.com/comment/reply/20325

Like they say, never judge a book by the cover. I don't do that with anyone, and nor should others. Well, you can, but...

That seems to be the problem in Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Leyla said...

Sorry,Arzu,I see your memories are weak,like mines,I just remember how my Mom tried to be strong: not screaming,be quiet,to protect us.For this 20 years we used to hear and talk about The Problem of Karabah,some people bored,some depressed.I think we should appreciate people like Onnik Krikorian for his attempt to start the dialogue.Not to blame each other,but try to understand and respect.Even 100 years War between Britain and France finished by Peace,I hope,we'll get it too.

Sanan said...

Me hates nation, nationalism, flag, anthem more than anything. the ideology popped up 200 years ago with Napoleon still finds adherents and sows in them the seeds of hatred.

I have always been struck how similar are azeris and armenians. how well they get along in everywhere except the caucasus.

I am also puzzled that we guys dont understand that we have very common sides...how humiliating is that we still keep portraying one another as inhuman while world moves to the cutting edge technologies.

I am sorry for both.

I can do no more than agreeing with Onnik that the only winners are regimes.

Each time an issue of human rights rises, we hear a shoot off in the border and that brings about the end for raised issue.

My thesis is that: for as long as Karabakh problem remains unsolved democracy is a dream.

Here what I recommend: seems like you guys are striving to bridge too people. Why dont we start some kind of project? Or if there is already one why dont you guys let me know. I ll go for it.

Onnik Krikorian said...

Hi Sanan, totally agree. As for a project I've started one up. It's kind of erratic at the moment.

http://oneworld.am/diversity/

Started off as a voluntary effort by Arzu and myself and then expanded to include some others.

Even got some funding to cover our costs. Not much, but it helped not to have to dig into my own pocket.

And it will continue with or without funding. What is important is the desire to change.

Anyway, there's also an excellent podcast from the last stage of the project at:

http://www.tol.org/client/article/21083-cup-of-kindness.html

More to come too.

BTW: Feel free to use the email link on the oneworld.am site to get in touch. The more the merrier. :)

Onnik Krikorian said...

Oh, and I forgot. Some of the blog posts from the second stage of the project are also available in English, Russian and Azerbaijani:

http://cau.blogs.tol.org/category/media/diversity-project/

It can also be followed on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/caucasusproject

Anonymous said...

Onnik Krikorian Why did you start talking about Armenians pogrom. Arzu wrote article about Azerbaijan tragedy. No one asked about your nation false pogrom which happen after AZERBAIJANIAN POGROM IN ARMENIYA. DONT EVEN TRY TO COMPARE KHODJALI GENOSIDE WITH YOUR ARMENIAN POGROM!!!!! IT IS NOT A FIRST GENOSIDE WHICH ARMENIANS HAS DONE AGAINST AZERBAIJANIAN. AND ALL THE TIME AZERBAIJANIAN FORGIVES ARMENIANS BUT AT THIS TIME IT WILL NOT HAPPEN AGAIN!!!!AZERBAIJAN NEVER WILL FORGET KHODJALY GENOSIDE !!!!! JUST LIKE ARMENIANS NEVER FORGETS FALSE GENOSIDE 1905

arzu geybulla said...

@Onnik: My post was intended for January 20th. It was intended to commemorate those who fell on that day, those who lost siblings, and most importantly, simply remind everyone of the tragedy.

Was it a piece on general events of those days and that year, I would have mentioned pogroms.

On another notes, I would like to thank you for the rest of your comment- about the importance of 1990s and the way the events are channelled to public in both countries.

@scaryazeri: thank you for your comment and I agree with "selective chronology"- countries tend to pick and choose dates, facts, events, incidents, benefiting only them. These are the rules of this cruel game I guess.

@anonymous (who commented at the very end): while I appreciate your comment, I think what you are saying is where we all tend to make one, huge mistake- i wish you read, Onnik's following comment, if not, I would like to re-quote it in my comment:

"In fact, I admit the unthinkable things that Armenians and Azerbaijanis have done to each other.

And actually, that all human beings have done to the other and will continue to do. Both the past and the present shows that [...]

Nevertheless, each side continues to do what Tom de Waal refers to as starting history at a point convenient to them [...]

That said, it was not all Armenians and Azerbaijanis, but the minority that did have defined the present. Unfortunately, this is the reality.

Both Armenia and Azerbaijan defined their independence with ethnic-conflict and each blames the other while not admitting both suffered [...]

History in this region is subjective and selective on both sides, and instead of looking at problems in the present...

Well, people continue to remain stuck in their own very different interpretations of the past instead of looking to the future [...]"

I hope this clears up the air a bit, however, there are few more things to add. No one is forgetting Khodjaly massacre- God forbid that happens in this country but it wont if children as young as 6 or 7 are shown horror pictures and taught in school that this is what Armenians did to us.

Dear Anonymous, I am young, and i am hopeful, I suggest you do the same- nothing good will come out of this hatred and negative attitude. Things will change eventually, we are not going to live like this forever. The question is, are you ready to re- adapt, and start accepting the fact that we, as a nation are not as innocent. I think that during those years, things that were taking place, weren't simply done by average people who lived both in Azerbaijan and Armenia. I believe, it was all carefully planned, well- thought through.

Anyway, hope this made a bit of sense. Please lets not start a verbal war here.

Thank you all for all your comments,

SEVDA said...

Dear Arzu. I appreciate your opinion but I can not agree with you. YOU ARE TOO MUCH WELL- WISHER I don't start any verbal war here. I REPLIED TO KRIKORIAN BECAUSE I HAVE SEEN NO RESPECT FOR THE VICTIMS OF BLACK JANUARY( I find unfortunate is the lack of mention of the anti-Armenian pogrom which preceded it and which gave Moscow the reason it needed to move in) I know Armenians very well I grew up with them, I know mentality of this nation. They brought up and bringing up their children telling them than Turks are our enemy and that is why Azerbaijanis had all those genocides. In contrary with Armenians Azerbaijanis dont bring up children in that way. I am against showing to our children pictures of brutally killed babes, children,pregnant women, women and older.IT IS NOT GOOD FOR CHILDREN PSYCHOLOGY. I DON'T WANT OUR CHILDREN WILL GROW UP WITH HATE IN HEART BUT I WANT THEY WILL NEVER FORGET IT, BECAUSE FORGET IT MEANS BETRAY KHOJALY INNOCENT PEOPLE.

UNTIL ARMENIANS WILL NOT CHANGE THEIR MENTALITY OF THE GREAT NATION AND HATRED TURKS I AM SURE AZERBAIJAN IS GOING TO HAVE ANOTHER GENOCIDE IN THE FUTURE.

FOR MYSELF I HAVE DECIDED NOT TO HAVE ANYTHING WITH ARMENIANS. WHERE IS ARMENIANS I AM NOT THERE.

Anonymous said...

@Onnnik: You doubt or not Black January, IT HAPPENED!!! " ...of the anti-Armenian pogrom which preceded it and which gave Moscow the reason it needed to move in. " That's a wrong idea! 1988-1990=2 years!!!

Who cares "why" Black January happened, to discuss it furthermore?! I mean, ok, you find the reason why it happened (assuming that it is different from what we know) ...what would it change? Innocent people were killed, injured. There is no excuse , no justification for it!!! I dont care, if Azeri top officials, Soviet top officials, Armenians had something to do with it, they all are bastards!!! that's straight forward!!

About selective chronology, you know in October of 2008, armenian former minister of foreign affairs Oskanyan was at Central European University giving a lecture on "Diplomacy of small states", he was asked such a question: "Mr. Oskanyan, dont you think that You (Armenians) are over-victimizing? I would ask the same question to you, dont you think you are over-victimizing?

That's the definition of genocide for you to read once more, and maybe this will help you to put Khodjali withing the term of GENOCIDE!!!
"United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG). Article 2 of this convention defines genocide as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group"

anyway, more comments are to come....gotta work now...

Regards...

M.A.

Anonymous said...

@Onnik, I wrote down the date for Sumgait Pogroms only, because that's Baku Pogrom is only an excuse to justify entrance of soviet troops to Baku. I doubt the event itself!!!

Regards,

M.A

Anonymous said...

@Onnik, about the "no armenian was left in Baku". It has been 20 years, it is 2010...I know personally 3 ARMENIANS living in baku with different names!!! I dont know how many they are here officially. How many Azeris live in Erevan?

Anonymous said...

Arzu, with all respect, what you say never will happen! Not within this country, re adapt to what? Didnt we re-adapt each time we had problems with armenians, starting with the period of Peter the Great, ending up with ADR's period. And what do we get each time? It just comes back and hits us every single time! Re-adapt to give a cat cookie so it would want milk later on?No way.
I wish to agree with you, just can not.

P.S. No matter how much we write, how much we do, how much we discuss, a key to all problems is not in Armenia or Azerbaijan.

Regards,

M.A.

arzu geybulla said...

@anonymous (who wrote at very end): we can disagree in this, i am not asking you or anyone else to agree. i a just suggesting an alternative. not sure what is your alternative, because continuing the same kind of attitude wont bring much change. what do you think?

thanks for the comment by the way.

Anonymous said...

@Arzu,Welcome, and thanks for not posting the other comments :P

Regards,

M.A

arzu geybulla said...

@anonymous: what do you mean not posting the other comments? i think i approved all your comments so far? :)