Rep. Adam Schiff remembers victims of Sumgait Pogroms

On the 32nd anniversary of the pogrom against the Armenian residents of the town of Sumgait, Azerbaijan, Rep. Adam Schiff has called to condemn crimes of hatred and to remember the victims, in hope that history will not be repeated.

“On February 27 1988, and for three days following, Azerbaijani mobs assaulted and killed Armenians. The violence left hundreds of Armenian civilians dead and injured, women and girls were raped, and some victims were burned alive. Thousands were forced to flee their homes, leaving behind their belonging,” Rep. Schiff said in a statement.

“Two years later, it is estimated that only 40,000 of the 250,000 Armenian residents of Baku remained in Azerbaijan. On January 13, 1990, organized Azerbaijani mobs turned on those remaining, many of them elderly or disabled, and killed hundreds and injured many more,” he added.

The Congressman noted that the pogroms came as a direct result of years of vicious, racist anti-Armenian propaganda by Azerbaijani authorities, dehumanizing the Armenian residents of Azerbaijan and laying the groundwork for mass violence.

“Azerbaijani authorities made little effort to punish those responsible, instead attempting to cover up the atrocities and denying the government role in instigating the attacks,” he said.

“The pogroms accomplished their purpose in displacing the entire Armenian community from their homes in Azerbaijan, but in the decades since, Azerbaijani authorities have continued to fan the flames of ethnic hatred, using it as a tool to distract their populace from the corrupt and repressive regime in Baku. The anniversary of Sumgait is a reminder of the consequences when aggression and hatred grow unchecked,” Adam Schiff said.

“In less than two months we will mark the 105th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, an event the Turkish government, Azerbaijan’s closest ally, goes to great lengths to deny. We must not let such crimes against humanity go unrecognized, whether they occurred yesterday or 30 years ago or 100 years ago. As we pause to remember the victims of the atrocities of Sumgait and Baku pogroms, we must remember: It is our moral obligation to condemn crimes of hatred and to remember the victims, in hope that history will not be repeated,” Rep. Schiff concluded.

This piece was originally published at Public Radio of Armenia.