Martyrs’ Day in Azerbaijan
Martyrs’ Day is a national holiday that’s observed on January 20th in Azerbaijan. Also known as the Day of the Nationwide Sorrow, this holiday remembers the day in 1990 when the Red Army entered Baku and shot 130 civilians dead. Although this act by the Soviets was meant to intimidate the people of Azerbaijani, it actually had the opposite effect and proved to be the key moment for the independence movement in the country.
This event would be known in the history books as Black Saturday, Black January, or simply as Black Saturday. Nowadays, the anniversary of this event remembers the sacrifice of those civilians as well as all of those who died during the Nagorno-Karabakh War between Azerbaijan and Armenia between 1988 and 1994.
The History Of Martyrs’ Day In Azerbaijan
In January of 1990, the Armenian SSR voted to include the Nagorno-Karabakh Region in its budget and that allowed the people in the region to vote in Armenian elections. This move would enrage the Azeris who saw this as an attempt by Armenia to replace Azerbaijan’s jurisdiction of its own territory. This led to large demonstrations in Baku that demanded separation from the Soviet Union.
During this time, the Soviet Union was dealing with the deterioration of its own government and they saw these protests as an event that threatened their existence. That is why they decided to use military force to put down the protests and to intimidate the people so they wouldn’t protest for separation from the Soviet Union.
On January 19th and 20th, the Soviet Army entered Baku and shot 130 civilians dead. This strengthened Azerbaijani desire for independence. In December 1991, Azerbaijan would get its wish when it gained independence after the Soviet Union collapsed. This holiday was created to remember the civilians at Baku and also all of those who died during the Nagorno-Karabakh War — a war that took place between Azerbaijan and Armenia between 1988 and 1994.
Observing Martyrs’ Day In Azerbaijan
This holiday is observed in Azerbaijan with parades, concerts, and sporting events. There are also memorial services and other events held on this day to remember the victims of Black January.