*20 JANUARY - A DAY OF MOURNING IN AZERBAIJAN*
What happened on 20 January 1990 was an act of terror by a totalitarian regime. The crime committed against the Azerbaijanis is, in fact, a crime against mankind, against humanity.
The people were infuriated by the territorial claims and aggressive acts of Armenia, backed by the then Soviet officials, against Azerbaijan, as well as by the anti-nationalist behaviour of the local authorities. Azerbaijanis were being expelled from the land where they had lived for centuries. Since 1988 the national movement for liberty grew. This was a protest against the policy of the USSR and, as a result, for the independence of Azerbaijan. Thousands of people protesting against the policy of the USSR held demonstrations all day long in the central square (now Azadliq or Freedom Square) and the streets of Baku.
*On 18 January 1990* the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR issued a decree "On the realization of the extraordinaty situ-ation in the city of Baku since 20 January", which had not been co-coordinated with the parliament of Azerbaijan and the purpose was to choke the people's voice, to stop the demonstrations and the movement. Later on the night of *20 January* a big contingent of the USSR Armed Forces was sent onto the streets of Baku. As a result, the Soviet Army committed a horrible crime against the Azerbaijani people. That night the Soviet Army displayed particular cruelty against the people. They remembrance used chemical weapons, shot at ambulances and the wounded and mutilated dead bodies. According to official sources, as a result of this aggressive act, which was against the principles of international law, democracy and humane values, *131 people died, 774 were wounded, 400 imprisoned and four went missing.* During the tragedy the courageous sons of the Azerbaijani people who stood up for the motherland's dignity, honour and freedom became martyrs. The day after the tragedy, despite the pressure of the Soviet Army, people on the the streets displayed their hatred both for those who had enforced the clampdown and for the Communist Parties of the USSR and Azerbaijan. On the night of the tragedy, the leader of the republic, fearing the people's anger, escaped to Moscow. Azerbaijanis living in Moscow arranged a meeting about the tragedy. At that time Heydar Aliyev was living in Moscow and he came to Azerbaijan's permanent representation and presented his condolences to the people of Azerbaijan. In a speech he emphasized that the initiators of the tragedy were the then officials of the USSR and Azerbaijan and they had done nothing to calm the people down. Heydar Aliyev, who considered this tragedy a crime against the Azerbaijani people, emphasized that the initiators Martyrs' monument, Baku Martyrs' monument, Bakubore responsibility for it and should be properly punished.
On 20 January 1990, though the Azerbaijani people suffered military, moral and political aggression, they displayed their ability to maintain the traditions of historical heroism and resist the cruellest attacks for the sake of the freedom and independence of the motherland, even becoming martyrs. The sons of the motherland perished on 20 January 1990 while defending the freedom and independence of Azerbaijan and by their bravery made a vivid history in the chronicle of heroism of our country. And today the Azerbaijanis are proud of those who are ready to perish for the sake of the people's national identity. On 20 January Martyrs' Avenue looks like a sea of carnations, but from a distance the image is horrifying.