On January 20, Azerbaijanis around the world will commemorate the 32nd anniversary of "Black January" events that marked the beginning of the end of Soviet rule in Azerbaijan. As former or current residents of Azerbaijan, we all remember those tragic days when the nation came together to protest the inhumane treatment of Azerbaijanis by Moscow and the Soviet army. Please take a minute to send out the letter by clicking the link below to inform your elected officials and local media about the heinous war crime perpetrated by the Soviet forces against the civilian population of Azerbaijan.
On the night of January 19-20, 1990, Azerbaijan was invaded by 26,000 Soviet troops. After blowing up the national television transmission block and imposing an immediate informational blockade on the entire republic, the Red Army rolled its tanks through the streets of Azerbaijan's capital Baku indiscriminately firing at everything that moved. Determined to crush the popular protests against the Kremlin's oppression at any cost, Gorbachev imposed emergency rule over Baku after the massacre had already taken place. By the morning hours of January 20, more than a hundred civilians lay dead on the streets of the city, and more would be killed in the following days. The official count puts the death toll at 140 civilians killed, with over 700 wounded. The images of streets full of massacred civilians were reminiscent of the Red Army's crimes perpetrated against civilians in Budapest in 1956 and Prague in 1968.
In a report titled "Black January in Azerbaijan", Human Rights Watch stated that "the violence used by the Soviet Army on the night of January 19-20 was so out of proportion to the resistance offered by Azerbaijanis as to constitute an exercise in collective punishment. The punishment inflicted on Baku by Soviet soldiers may have been intended as a warning to nationalists, not only in Azerbaijan, but in the other Republics of the Soviet Union.''
The investigation revealed that in their pursuit of higher casualties, the Red Army used the infamous 5.45 mm caliber bullets with a shifted center of gravity, which upon entering a body - unlike conventional bullets - travel in sporadic movements spiraling through the organs, causing excessive pain and internal bleeding, thus increasing chances of death.
The Soviet attack against innocent civilians in Azerbaijan followed massacres in other Soviet republics, including Kazakhstan in 1986 and Georgia in 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 Moscow.
These tragic events, known to the world as the "Black January", marked the beginning of the end of Soviet rule in Azerbaijan, and eventually caused cracks in the foundations of Soviet statehood. Thirty-two years later, there is no sign of "Black January" declining in significance. Millions of Azerbaijanis and friends of Azerbaijan visit Martyrs' Alley in the capital city Baku on January 20 to pay tribute to the memory of the victims who laid their lives for the country's independence.
Please send this letter to inform your elected officials and media about this heinous war crime against civilian population of Azerbaijan.
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