20 January 1990 is a day, which went down in history of the struggle for the freedom and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, as a heroism page. Leading of the battle divisions of the Soviet army aimed against wide mass who got out in the streets and squares of Baku to protest against aggressive actions of Armenia, which was raising territorial claims to our country, against protection rendered to this country by the government of the former USSR had brought to the unprecedented tragedy in Azerbaijan.
On those terrible days valiant sons and daughters of our Motherland, the country's freedom, honor and dignity of whom was above all, sacrificed their own lives and rose to the top of martyr. Tragedy of January 20, which brought to huge losses and destruction of innocent people, demonstrated martial spirit, inexorability and pride of our nation, which couldn't stand the policy of the government of Gorbachev headed criminal empire treacherous towards Azerbaijan, intended to the freedom and independence. As a result of it, we gained our independence many years we had been dreaming of and our country had achieved sovereignty.
In spite of the fact that a few years has passed since those bloody days, our nation remembers that dreadful night and expresses its deep contempt to those who committed that tragedy. Our republic commemorates the day of tragedy of January 20 broadly every year, which had immortalized in the vital memory of our nation as a Day of the Nationwide Sorrow.
Late at night on January 19, 1990, 60.000 Soviet troops stormed Baku. The shooting continued for three days. They acted pursuant to a state of emergency, which continued on for more than 4 months afterwards, declared by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, signed by President Gorbachev and disclosed to the Azerbaijani public only after many citizens lay wounded or dead in the streets, hospitals and morgues of Baku.
134 people from 5 nations (more than 20 women, children) died from wounds received that night and during subsequent violent confrontations and incidents that lasted in February; the majority of these were civilians killed by Soviet soldiers. More than 600 civilians were wounded. Civil liberties were severely curtailed.
An energy supply source to Azerbaijani TV and State Radio was blown up by intelligence officers (USSR "Alfa" group) at 7:27 PM in order to cut off the population from any source of information. TV and radio was silent and all print media was banned.
The behavior of Soviet armed forces in Baku must be judged in the context of their actual mission. Mikhail Gorbachev's use of force in Baku was nothing but the desperate attempt to stop dissolution of Communist ruling in Azerbaijan. The Soviet army was trying to rescue the totalitarian regime, the rule of Communist Party and Soviet empire.
Notwithstanding gross violation of human rights and mass manslaughter in Azerbaijan, the brutal use of force in Azerbaijan created an anti-force. It buried chances of preserving the collapsing empire and resurrected national movement for independence.
Pursuant to mass manslaughter in Azerbaijan on January 20, 1990, Heydar Aliyev made a statement in Azerbaijan Representative in Moscow, demanding punishment of organizers and executors of the tragedy.
Only in 1994, the National Assembly of Azerbaijan adopted a full political and legal evaluation of the Black January events. According to the decree of the President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev from December 16, 1999, all victims of the crackdown were awarded an honorary title of the "Martyr of January 20".