Friday, February 27, 2009

Sumgait Anniversary.

It seems that the Armenian history is full of tragic events - massacres of Armenian by either the Turks or Azeris. One of the biggest in recent memory is the massacre of the Armenian residents in the industrial city of Sumgait in Azerbaijan not far from Baku.

mv83 has posted an eyewitness report of a survivor. This kind of stories do not appear in the press very often (even in the Armenian language papers) so I thought it would be helpful to translate it.

They Killed a Lot of Armenians That Day
Jenya, an 80 year old grandmother, lives in Stepanakert. She is a witness to the massacres of the Armenian population in Sumgait. Her family is one of the few who managed to escape it without harm.

"The best years of my life were the ones in Sumgait. I lived in a five story building. Until now I remember our apartment [mentions the address]. I was a nurse in a hospital and had very good friends. When the Karabakh movement started [a couple of weeks ago] they started surveying the Armenians. On their way home, they were often detained and taken away.
On the day of the massacre I was at home and my daughter Naira was at work. I wanted to go and get her but my neighbors did not let me. Instead, they went themselves and got her. One of the neighbors, Mahmed, God bless him, came in and took a bottle full of gasoline out of his pocket. "If they come after you", he said, "I will light this up and throw at them so do not be afraid". They came after us that evening - we had noticed that they were asking the neighbors about the Armenian family that lived in the building. Our neighbors told them that there were no Armenians there and that the Armenians had moved.", remembers Mrs. Jenya.

"I was a 10-12 year old kid. I was alone in my room and was watching soccer on TV. There was a small exit door leading to the balcony. I looked out, there was a fire in our yard. There was a car tire burning and a large crowd of people around it. Then I saw them drag a 20-25 year old Armenian woman. They had already dragged her around the town and she had no clothes. They put her on the fire and burned her. I was terrified and stood in shock without understanding what was going on.", tells Jenya's grandson.

"The kid was hidden rolled up in a rug.", interrupts Jenya, "They killed a lot of Armenians that day. Soon after my brother and sister's son came from Karabakh and took us away from Sumgait. I still wonder how they managed to get to Sumgait. The cars belongign to Armenians were being pelted with stones in Aghdam and passengers taken hostage. It was far more dangerous in Sumgait. A lot of Armenians ere killed that day."


Ani said...

A while ago I linked in Khosq to a special issue of Russia Profile magazine. Unfortunately, now you have to register (for free) to read all the stories, but if I remember correctly one was an eyewitness story on this massacre.

The editor's note for the issue said this:
In this issue, we compile a list of major potential conflict zones in the Caucasus, every one of them having a “genocidal” element, some hushed up for years. The slaughter of Armenians in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku in 1989 to 1990 is one such case. In 2000, on the tenth anniversary of the massacre that reduced the Armenian population of the city to near zero, not a single major newspaper in the world published so much as a note on the occasion.

At the time, I tried to publish a brief memoir of a young Armenian woman, who was a little girl during the pogroms and saw what happened from a child’s perspective. “This is badly written,” said the editors at one liberal and progressive Moscow newspaper, refusing to publish the text. “Didn’t you understand? They had an advertisement for investments in Azerbaijan to publish next week,” an Armenian friend explained to me later. “And remember, Azerbaijan is an ally of the West and a possible future NATO member.”
So awfully sad, isn't it.

BSW said...

Astvatz hoginer' lusavori..;-(