Today marks the 35th anniversary of the Sumgait pogroms, which have become one of the most tragic and hideous pages in the recent history of the Armenian people. From February 27 to 29, 1988, in the city of Sumgait, located just 40 kilometers from Baku, with the criminal connivance and even at the direction of the Azerbaijani authorities, mass progroms against the Armenian population took place, accompanied by murders, torture and other atrocities. Armed with sharp metal rods, axes, hammers and other improvised means, groups of pogromists, with the complete indifference of the city law enforcement, broke into the apartments of Armenians and retaliated against innocent people with incredible cruelty. During several days of violence, dozens of Armenians were killed, hundreds were brutally beaten and tortured, and thousands were forcibly displaced. The atmosphere of hatred towards Armenians was fueled by anti-Armenian slogans and calls for violence voiced during the rallies. The purpose of these criminal acts, organized by the Azerbaijani authorities, was to create an atmosphere of fear and thereby suppress the peaceful demands of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Sumgait massacre became the first large-scale manifestation of the discriminatory and genocidal policy pursued by Azerbaijan against the Armenian people for decades. This was followed by massacres of Armenians in other cities of Azerbaijan, in particular Baku, Kirovabad, Shamakhi, Shamkhor, Mingechaur and elsewhere, as well as three wars unleashed against Artsakh, which were accompanied by deliberate attacks on civilians, the use of prohibited and indiscriminate weapons and other war crimes.
The pogroms in Sumgait became the basis for the revival of intolerance and hatred against Armenians in Azerbaijan. Armenophobia was elevated to the rank of state policy. The inspirers and perpetrators of this heinous crime became a role model in Azerbaijan, and crimes against Armenians became the norm. Two years later, in January 1990, the Armenian pogroms in Baku were carried out under the slogan “Glory to the heroes of Sumgait!”. Unfortunately, Azerbaijan was not held accountable either for the pogroms in Sumgait or for subsequent genocidal actions, as a result of which an atmosphere of political permissiveness and impunity was formed for the authorities of this authoritarian state.
The combination of these factors - a sense of impunity and permissiveness, intolerance and hatred towards Armenians, as well as the desire to suppress the right of the people of Artsakh to self-determination at any cost - led to the rooting of genocidal intentions against the people of Artsakh in the political consciousness and state policy of Azerbaijan. A clear manifestation of these criminal intentions is the blockade of Artsakh that has been going on for more than two months, and was driven by the desire of the Azerbaijani authorities to force the people of Artsakh to give up their collective rights, deprive them of their homeland and ultimately destroy them.
Even after 35 years, Azerbaijan's policy of oppression, intimidation, gross violations of human rights, the use or threat of force, as well as deportation and ethnic cleansing against the people of Artsakh has not changed. Nevertheless, despite all the difficulties and challenges currently facing the Republic, the people of Artsakh remain firm and determined to defend their rights in their historical homeland and continue the struggle for freedom, independence, democracy and human rights.
We bow to the memory of all innocent victims of Azerbaijan's aggressive and misanthropic policy, and once again call on the international community to take active and effective measures to break the vicious cycle of Azerbaijan's wrongdoings, prevent new crimes against humanity and bring those responsible to justice.