On February 4, the Senate of the U.S. State of New Mexico adopted a proclamation honoring the 30th anniversary of Azerbaijan’s Black January tragedy.
Adopted at the Senate’s floor session, the proclamation condemned the Black January massacre of 1990 and remembered the victims of Azerbaijan’s freedom struggle. Azerbaijan’s Consul General in Los Angeles, Nasimi Aghayev, sent a letter to the leadership of the New Mexico Senate, thanking the senators for acknowledging and honoring the first victims of Azerbaijan’s national independence movement.
Read aloud at the floor session of the Senate, the proclamation states that “the Republic of Azerbaijan was established in 1918 to become the first-ever secular parliamentary democracy in the Muslim world before it was invaded in 1920 by Bolsheviks, and forcefully incorporated into the Soviet Union”. It further notes that “30 years ago, on the night of January 19-20, 1990, to crush a popular uprising for freedom, 26,000 Soviet special troops with support of tanks, helicopters and navy invaded Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, indiscriminately killing hundreds of unarmed civilians, including children, women and elderly, and Muslims, Christians and Jews”. The document stresses that “an investigation by Human Rights Watch found that “the violence used by the Soviet Army on the night of January 19–20 constituted an exercise in collective punishment” and the Black January in Azerbaijan was the most violent Soviet crackdown on dissent during the waning days of the USSR”. It notes that “this massacre did not stop the people of Azerbaijan from continuing their struggle for national independence, and on the contrary, it reinforced Azerbaijanis' determination for freedom from the Soviet yoke, resulting in Azerbaijan's independence in 1991”.
The proclamation also states that “the modern Republic of Azerbaijan, which is located in the South Caucasus, has been a steadfast regional ally and friend of the United States, an active contributor to the NATO and U.S. operations in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Iraq; and represented by its Consul General and Honorary Consul, Azerbaijan and New Mexico have established a strong relationship over the last years”. In conclusion, the document says: “Now therefore be it resolved by Senate of the State of New Mexico that recognition be extended on the 30th anniversary of Azerbaijan’s Black January and that the victims of Azerbaijan’s struggle for freedom and independence be remembered.”
The proclamation was presented by Senator Ortiz y Pino to Azerbaijan’s Honorary Consul in New Mexico Art McHaffie, who was present on the Senate floor.