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SOUMGAYIT

Armenophobic Bloody Policy in Action


       During the three days from February 27 to 29, 1988 nearly the whole territory of the town with a population of 250.000 became the arena of mass unfettered massacre of the Armenian populace. Hundreds of Armenians were murdered, mainly burnt alive after relentless assault and tortures. Thousands of them were attacked and many of them became physically disabled. They were raped, among them girls under age. More than two hundred homes were destroyed, dozens of automobiles were burnt or fractured, dozens of workshops, stores, kiosks and booths were shattered. There were thousands of refugees.
       Meanwhile, according to the official statistics, 27 Armenians died in Soumgayit. It is not surprising that the number "27" is given.In addition, again according to the official data, 12 persons were raped, hundreds of people were physically impaired with different degrees of injuries, around two hundred homes of Armenians were attacked and ruined, more than fifty vehiclesdamaged, and some of them burnt. Besides, 276 military servicemen were impaired with injuries of different degrees of seriousness. It should be emphasized that the above-stated is merely the official information. This is the range of the tragedy, which took place in a relatively small town with a population of 250.000 which is only 25 km from Baku.
      Crimes of such type and range are willingly committed under a thoroughly designed plan and have a clearly defined objective. In order to perpetrate the felony a combination of actions was taken which ensured:
      firstly - the appropriate psychological disposition of the offenders;
      secondly - creation of conditions for the unhindered execution of the planned actions;
      thirdly - provision of tools and means of murder;
      fourthly - concealment of the crime and its accomplices.
      Now facts supporting each of the above points will be given which demonstrate the previously designed and organized character of the Soumgayit felony.
      It was found out that several days prior to the events young Azeris throughout Azerbaijan and a number of regions of Armenia were invited to Soumgayit to a "wedding party". They arrived at the place of destination by buses from Aghdam, Fizuli, other towns, as well as a special Kapan-Soumgayit train. Rumours were spread all over the town that the Azeris were being murdered and assaulted in Armenia and Karabagh… After the apprehensive intercommunication in the Lenin Square with the "refugees" from Kapan, the administration of Soumgayit and the leaders of the republic, in particular, A.G. Mehdiyev, A. I. Ahmedov and others organized large groups in various districts and quarters of the town, perturbed for inspiring the inter-national massacre.
      This is how the issue of psychological disposition was settled.
      In order to encourage the thugs the organizers distributed vodka and drugs to them.
      For the unhampered execution of the planned actions arrangements must have been made with the militia. Otherwise there can be no other interpretations for the inaction, and sometimes, the participation of the militia in coalition with the thugs.
      According to the numerous witnesses and victims, on February 29, during the massacre and battery in Quarter 41, not a single militiaman was noticed at the site although there is a militia station in the given location. Later it was revealed that Colonel F. A. Huseynov, the commander of the militia troops of the Department of Internal Troops at the Ministry of the Interior of the Azerbaijan SSR arrived in Soumgayit from Baku on the 27th of February, 1988 with a big number of troops of his personal staff for the participation in the stoppage of the mass disorder. However, it is known that on February 28, 1988, in the presence of Colonel Huseynov, Captain Salimov and two militiamen the group organized by Mehdiyev attacked several apartments, murdered the two brothers Avanesyan, assaulted their parents and raped the victims. Thus, following the appeal in the demonstrations to attack the Armenians and the evident inaction, and sometimes, the accomplicing of the militia the huge crowd was split into gangs of several hundred people and moved towards the bus terminal. From there they headed to quarters and districts. Logically, a question arises: how did they identify the Armenians and find their apartments?
      The perpetrators of the genocide had addressed that issue beforehand by preparing the lists of the Armenians and their addresses. The perpetrators of the genocid did not discount even those Armenians who had gone to work without suspecting anything. The managers of all enterprises were instructed to ensure that the Armenians did not stay at work, were sent home. This released the managers from any responsibility and enabled the thugs to execute their intention in full.
      How were the thugs armed and how and from what sources were the tools of murder acquired?
      The article "Soumgayit: Prosecutor's Office Continues Investigation" (cf. Katusev, Izvestia, August 20, 1988) reads: "…A group of Azerbaijanian citizens armed with sticks, stones, other objects began attacking the Armenian homes…".
      Katusev describes the arms as though he is referring to events of the antediluvian period. Those were "civilized" Azeris who were armed with guns, axes, knives, batons taken from the military, metallic tubes, sharpened steel rods, sticks and stones. Why is this fact concealed? Obviously, it was known that "The group… armed with axes, knives, metallic tubes, steel rods, stones and other objects stormed into the apartments where citizens of the Armenian nationality lived…".
      Hundreds of witnesses and victims testified the objects of the armed gangs throughout the town.
      Two important details should also be stated.
      Firstly, the telephones of the Armenians were disconnected. Hundreds of refugees witnessed that during the days of the Soumgayit massacre their phone lines were disconnected. Many of them noted that the phones of their non-Armenian neighbours worked. Some of the witnesses, mainly those who suffered from the massacre, stated that they phoned the town committee (of the Communist Party) or the militia for help. Normally, the responses were: "Stay at home and wait, assistance will arrive", We can't do anything, call the ambulance", Call the militia" (this was the response given by the ambulance). As a rule, the advice "to stay at home" was followed by the assault in 10 or 15 minutes (if the thugs failed to attack the given home by that time). It should be noted again that Victor Loshak refers to it in his article "Soumgayit: Epilogue of Tragedy" in "Moskovskie Novosti" (Moscow News) newspaper of May 22, 1988: "It still needs to be determined how it happened that on February 28 and 29 many of the telephones in the town were disconnected. Who will be liable for the comforting responses "to stay at home" when it was necessary to urgently evacuate the people". In addition to the testimonies of the witnesses, many victims state that during the days of the massacre the local radio announced three telephone numbers that should be dialed and it was recommended "to stay at home".
      Another important detail is noteworthy: during the massacre all the roads to Soumgayit were blocked by the armed troops. All cars moving towards the town were examined. As a matter of fact, this was done in the most sophisticated and brutal methods. For example, at first the documents were examined, then the pronunciation of some of the words was checked to find out the difference from the Azerbaijanian pronunciation, then men were forced to take off their trousers for checking whether they belonged to the Mohammedan religion. If the cars were driven by Armenians they were assaulted and killed at the spot.
      Thus, the perpetrators created a trap for all Armenians who came to Soumgayit during those days.
      Now let's refer to how the crime and the criminals were concealed by the perpetrators.
      In the letter of Eminbaily to the investigation team of the Prosecutor's Office of the USSR dated March 29, 1988 it is stated that "on the night from February 27 to 28, 1988 the whole territory of the town was divided by the responsible personnel of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan and the town committee of the Communist Party into sections according to enterprises, organizations, responsible line managers of the Regional Department of the Internal Affairs and PVB -people's voluntary brigades , also, the wholetop management of the Communist Party was invited for the purpose of strengthening the public order". However, since the massacre aggravated during the following days throughout the town with more barbaric actions, logically it can be assumed that the aforementioned initiative was targeted not at "strengthening the public order" but concealing the planned genocide of the Armenians. To justify this assumption, it should be noted that for clearing the traces of the disturbance "the services of the town municipality were engaged in rehabilitation activities during the night and morning hours" (cf. Letter of the same Eminbaily).
      The fact of the effective rehabilitation of the destroyed apartments before the arrival of the investigation team is also noted by numerous victims.
      Below another fact of concealing the crime is described.
      It is known that many of the thugs were not locals. Probably this is one of the reasons why there were so many persons participating in the massacre "that the investigation team failed to identify".
      The investigation team whose main task was to reveal the crime and the accomplices also had its significant share in the concealment.
      Unfortunately, the Soviet leaders did not take adequate actions with respect of the bloody policy of Azerbaijan. Moreover, they deemed the Soumgayit massacre in terms of incurred losses. The statement "deriving from the ruffian motivations" can be noted in this or that criminal case.
      As a result of the opted juridical approach the Soumgayit crime was split into dozens of more and less serious crimes, deviating from the essence of the incident, and what is important, the conditions and reasons which caused the Soumgayit events were not revealed. The perpetrators who succeeded in turning hundreds of Azerbaijanians into those committing a mingled crime - a genocide - were also left in the shadow.
      If the Soumgayit tragedy had been considered as a single crime with multiple episodes, some new, more exact allegations of the given crime could be found. The Soviet leaders also failed in giving the political assessment of the tragedy.
      The absence of any legal and political judgements of the tragedy, the impunity which was due to the absence of such judgements created the precedent for the crimes in Kirovabad, Mingechaur, Shamhor, Shemah, Baku, Khanlar, Dashkesan, Sheki, the regions of Vardashen, Fizuli, Kasim-Ismaylosvkie and others.
     

      The incomplete list of the victims of the Soumgayit massacre is given in "Documents and testymonities".


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