Unpunished genocide: Armenians worldwide commemorate 30th anniversary of Sumgait Pogroms
YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 28, ARMENPRESS. Armenians worldwide commemorate the 30th anniversary of the mass massacres of Armenians in Sumgait during those days, Armenpress reports.
On February 27-29, 1988, the mass massacre and deportation of the Armenian population of Sumgait was carried out by the leadership of Soviet Azerbaijan. The massacres were accompanied by looting of the property of the Armenian population.
The goal of this crime against the Armenian people was to prevent the Artsakh movement, intimidate Armenians with the prospect of new bloody actions, prevent the spread of the Artsakh liberation fight. According to the USSR official data, several dozen people were killed during the Sumgait massacres, but according to non-official data, more than 1000 people were killed majority of whom were burned after tortures. After these events nearly 500.000 Armenians left different Azerbaijani cities. Nearly 400.000 of them were settled in Armenia.
On February 29 the Soviet troops entered Sumgait, but on that day as well the violence and killings continued. The army didn’t receive an order to use weapons and didn’t help Armenians. Only in the evening it took decisive actions and prevented the further massacres.
Only 94 people from massacre perpetrators were held accountable, and only one of them was sentenced to death. The remaining ones were charged with murders, rape, massacres, and in all cases the justification of the crime was called “hooligan motives”. Instead of involving all crimes in one single case, the Soviet authorities divided it in several parts conducting the trials in the courts of different Soviet cities. During the trials gross violations of judicial procedure and rights of the victims were registered. After the collapse of the Soviet Union some of the crime perpetrators were released. The crime has not been officially condemned and no condolences were extended to the relatives of the victims. Not giving an adequate political assessment to these events led to resumption of mass massacres of Armenians in Baku, Kirovabad and other Azerbaijani settlements.
Although the international community hasn’t still given an adequate assessment to the Armenian massacres in Sumgait and didn’t call them as genocide, the massacres were condemened by the European Parliament in 1988, the US Senate and the Parliament of Argentina in 1989.
The Armenian Parliament on February 28 will debate the draft statement on the 30th anniversary of the Sumgait Pogroms. The draft statement has been approved by the parliamentary standing committee on foreign affairs. All 4 parliamentary factions – the Republican Party of Armenia, the ARF, Tsarukyan and Yelk, authored the draft statement.
English – translator/editor: Aneta Harutyunyan
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