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  • Remembering Black January

    by Representative Bill Shuster

    Posted on 2015-01-20

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    SHUSTER of pennsylvania in the house of representatives Tuesday, January 20, 2015 Mr. SHUSTER. Mr. Speaker, as the Co-Chairman of the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus, I want to honor the people of Azerbaijan by recognizing the tragic events of 1990 commonly referred to as ``Black January.'' Twenty-four years ago yesterday, approximately 26,000 heavily armored Soviet soldiers poured into Azerbaijan's capital city of Baku and, with total indifference to human life, launched an assault on a crowd of peaceful demonstrators. Ultimately 131 civilians were killed by the aggressing Soviets. In addition, over 600 were injured, 841 arrested, and 5 went missing.

    The Human Rights Watch report ``Black January in Azerbaijan'' described the Soviet's approach as though they were attacking ``an enemy position intended for military destruction.'' It states Soviet soldiers fired on clearly marked ambulances, crushed civilians with armored tanks, and used both automatic weapons and bayonets on the civilian population. Many believe that the destruction inflicted on Baku was a warning to other Republics of the Soviet Union in an attempt to stop the dissolution of Communist rule.

    Ultimately, the atrocities of Black January united Azerbaijan like never before. The brutal show of force erased any residual hope for a reformed Soviet Union, such that Azerbaijan declared its independence twenty months later.

    I thank the Azerbaijan people for their continued friendship with the United States and extend my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of those who lost their lives for the independence of Azerbaijan.


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