Azerbaijan Day of the Martyrs

Azerbaijan Day of the Martyrs

January 20
On January 20, 1990, Soviet troops entered the Azerbaijan capital city of Baku to quell protests by Azerbaijani nationals, who were agitating for freedom from Soviet rule. Shooting down people in the streets, Soviet soldiers were responsible for the deaths of 131 people; 744 others were wounded, and 841 were illegally arrested. The events have come to be known as "Black January." Although the day was very grim, it is considered to be the birth of independent Azerbaijan and a crucial event leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union, due to the public outcry that followed it. The Soviet Union lasted only about one more year after the events in Azerbaijan.
The national holiday on January 20 honors those who died at the hands of the Soviet troops. Flags are flown at half-mast across the country, and a minute of silence is observed at noon. The tragedy is commemorated at Martyrs' Lane, a cemetery and park in Baku where photographs of the victims decorate the tombstones. Here, the president of the nation lays a wreath at the Eternal Fire that honors the dead of Black January.
CONTACTS:
Azerbaijan Embassy
2741 34th St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
202-337-3500; fax: 202-465-6438
www.azembassy.com
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