On Jan. 20, the Azerbaijani Americans commemorate the 23rd anniversary of “Black January,” events that marked the beginning of the end of Soviet rule in Azerbaijan. On the night of Jan. 19, 1990, Azerbaijan was invaded by 26,000 Soviet troops. A courageous resistance by Azerbaijanis to the Soviet invasion continued into February. Eventually, 170 Azerbaijanis were killed, 321 disappeared, more than 700 were wounded, and hundreds more were detained.
The Soviet attack against innocent civilians in Azerbaijan followed massacres in other Soviet republics, including Kazakhstan (1986) and Georgia (1989), and was tragically replicated one year later in Lithuania, although the brutality of the “Black January” tragedy was the biggest exercise in collective punishment by reactionary forces of the Communist Party.
The terrible event in Azerbaijan was an atrocity, but it also gave birth to a hope that led eventually to independence and freedom the following year. My family and I are joining the U.S. Azeris Network in commemorating the atrocity and its victims. We ask readers to also remember the victims with a minute of silence and statement for the record, just like Texas and New York legislatures did last year.