27 years after Baku pogroms many problems still unresolved – ex ombudsman

12:31 • 13.01.17



Today marks the 27th anniversary of the Armenian pogroms in Baku.


The six-day massacres, perpetrated by the Azerbaijani Popular Front and backed by the authorities, left scores of Armenians dead, forcing hundreds of others to flee their homes to find shelter in Armenia.


The date wasn’t selected randomly as it coincided with the “Old New Year” (Epiphany holiday according to the Julian calendar), which the Armenians celebrated very lavishly, says Larisa Alaverdyan, a former ombudsperson who now heads the NGO Against Legal Arbitrariness.


Speaking to Tert.am Alaverdyan noted that the Armenians in Baku saw three major pogroms in the period between 1988 and 1990. The first wave, which was the biggest, erupted in 1988, causing some 220 people to leave for Armenia; the second pogroms were committed in the summer of 1989 after several  refugees who had survived the horror returned to Baku following the Communist leader’s call. “About 120,000-125,000 Armenians remained in Baku after those massacres, and some really hoped they would manage to sell, or keep their property untouched. The 1990 massacres were the most brutal; people were practically pushed into ferry-boats, and we do not know to date how many families were massacred. And those who were rescued remember horrendous episodes of people being thrown into the [Caspian] Sea, robbed of property, brutally beaten or killed,” she said, thanking, on behalf of the rescued survivors, the authorities of Turkmenistan (especially the local government of Krasnodovsk) for their caring attitude to the refugees.

 

Only 360 of the 480 Baku refugees departed to Armenia, with many later leaving the country, Alaverdyan added. In her words, the dual citizenship law, which Armenia adopted in 1995, did not offer any advantage to most of them “due to certain government officials’ non-conscientious attitude.”

 

“Deported refugees retain their right to return, so Armenia should not be boastful at all that it never politicized the issue. The problem should have long ago been considered in the political domain to offer us also a completely different framework in the negotiations [over Nagorno-Karabakh].”

 

“The international community, including the United Nations and other refugee organizations, actively assisted us in the first years, resolving, in the first place, residence-related issues. All those who came to Armenia never lived in tents even a day; yet, there are more than 10,000 today that to not have a permanent housing. Hence, Armenia hasn’t yet finished the process,” Alaverdyan said.

 

She added that her repeated calls in parliament for properly addressing the issue met the response that Armenia’s State Budget isn’t enough to take the refugees’ housing problem under care.  

 

Liana Arakelyan





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