Baku – January 1990 – “Armenians Live Here”

Baku – January 1990

In 1990, from January 13-20, mass anti-Armenian pogroms organized by the Azerbaijani Popular Front occurred in the city of Baku. According to various estimates, 150 to 300 people became victims of pogroms.

The pogroms were aimed at people of Armenian nationality. At that time, there were about 30-40 thousand Armenians in Baku, mostly women and pensioners.

As in Sumgait, the actions of the attackers were distinguished by sophisticated cruelty. The area around the Armenian quarter became the scene of massacres. People were thrown from balconies of the upper floors, and crowds attacked the Armenians and beat them to death. Most of the victims died from beating and stab wounds, and there were no gunshot wounds. The pogrom was accompanied by mass plunder.

The survivors were put on ferries under the protection of the military and transported across the Caspian Sea to the city of Krasnovodsk in Turkmenistan. Subsequently, the Baku Armenians scattered throughout Armenia, Russia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Turkmenistan.

Local authorities along with the 12,000-strong contingent of internal troops and units of the Soviet army stationed in the city did not intervene in what was happening, limiting themselves only to protecting government facilities.

These days, the inscriptions “Armenians live here” appeared on the houses, which served as a clear tip and encouragement for the rioters. Russians wrote “Russians” at their homes, most likely to avoid becoming victims of the pogroms.

On the night of January 19 to 20, 1990 (after 7 days of pogroms), the Soviet army stormed Baku, guided by a decree on imposing a state of emergency in the city, which was announced a few hours later. The purpose of sending troops to Baku was the “rescue of the Armenian population”. After the troops stormed Baku, the Armenian pogroms stopped. As a result of the assault on the city, 134 Baku inhabitants and at least 20 Soviet soldiers died, and more than 700 people were injured.

These actions against the Armenians were committed by Azerbaijani nationalists with the assistance of the Azerbaijani authorities. From the point of view of international law, these actions can be classified as genocide.

The UN definition of genocide is as follows:

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.

Signs of genocide are:

a) Destruction of cultural values and historical heritage through the transfer of children of one ethnic group to another, forced and systematic seized civilizational and cultural elements, bans on the use of the native language, the systematic destruction of native-language books, the destruction of objects of historical and cultural heritage (monuments, religious institutions, museums, etc.).

b) Acts of brutal aggression against certain individuals and social persons; violent invasion of the privacy of members of specific groups; targeted destruction of the historical, cultural, and economic foundations of these groups.

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