This week marks the 21st anniversary of the pogroms of Armenians in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan, which started on January 13th, 1990 and lasted a full seven days.
The pogroms were the latest in a long string of massacres that began in 1905, perpetrated against the Armenian population of the territories, which later became part of Azerbaijan.
According to international reporters and eyewitness accounts, the massacres did not begin spontaneously and were instead planned and executed, with attackers were given lists of Armenian names and their home addresses to target.
When the pogroms began, the Armenian quarter of the city became an arena of death, the Armenian Church a charred ruin, and the whole of the population residing in Azerbaijan fled the country in search of refuge.
Armenian Pogroms in Azerbaijan
According to United Nations data from 1995, Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan numbered more than 415,000. Most of the refugees, approximately 300,000, fled the country to neighboring Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
Though the majority of survivors found refuge in the Republic of Armenia, their socio-political situation is dire. Deprived of international refugee status, these Armenians, who make up 10% of the country’s population, never recovered from the catastrophe of the pogroms.
The European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy raised the issue in a recent meeting with EU Special Representative to the South Caucasus, Peter Semneby. “We addressed [the refugees’] helpless situation in Armenia and in Karabakh. We plan to pursue our actions for an official initiative of the European Union in this regard,” explained Hilda Tchoboian, President of the European Armenian Federation.
Tchoboyan also criticized Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev for his increased anti-Armenian rhetoric. Rather than honoring the suffering of the victims, the Azeri leader lashed out at Armenia in his New Year’s address, claiming its capital, Yerevan, was Azeri land.
“Military buildup, war rhetoric and now Armenian land claims from Azerbaijan–Aliev discredits the principle of good faith in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process,” said Tchoboian.
“On the same days, the President of the European Commission, Mr. Barroso, visited Baku and, he too, failed to honor the memory of the Armenian victims of the pogroms,” said Tchoboian. “We expect from Mr. Barroso not to sacrifice our core values for oil and gas deals, but instead, raise them as a wall against Azerbaijan’s delusional rhetoric,” concluded Hilda Tchoboian.