STEPANAKERT — February 20th marks the 25th anniversary of the Nagorno Karabakh Liberation Movement. On February 20, 1988, reflecting the will of local population, Karabakh’s legislature petitioned Soviet leadership bodies of Azerbaijan and Armenia to transfer the autonomy from Soviet Azerbaijan to Soviet Armenia, aiming to correct Stalin’s self-willed decision of 1921.
“Our nation’s struggle against foreign yoke, nearly seven decades of persistent violence and oppression was at the very basis of the 1988 Movement”, said President of Artsakh Bako Sahakyan on this occasion.
25 years ago, Karabakh’s aspirations were fiercely opposed by the central Soviet authorities, who tried to suppress the first truly democratic movement in the crumbling USSR. Moscow deployed Soviet troops along with Azerbaijani militia to instill fear and signaling crackdown.
In response to peaceful manifestations in Stepanakert, well-organized Azeri mobs attacked and murdered hundreds of ethnic Armenians in towns and villages throughout Azerbaijan, including Sumgait, Baku and Kirovabad (former Armenian Gandzak).
By 1991, Azerbaijan launched a full-scale military aggression against Nagorno Karabakh’s demand for freedom, killing thousands and destroying Armenian towns and villages. Resolution 128 by the US Senate (May, 1991) condemned “indiscriminate use of force” by Azerbaijan against “innocent children, women, and men in … communities in and around Nagorno-Karabakh and in Armenia”. (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c102:S.+Res.+128:)
However, Armenians could defend their houses on the battlefield, and eventually forced the aggressor into a ceasefire, which was signed by Azerbaijan, Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh Republic in May of 1994.
Since then, NKR has been developing as an independent democracy, with effective government and well-functioning civil society.
“All of us, the whole nation will do everything possible for continuous strengthening of our independent statehood that has been reached at such a high price. It is an exclusive value without which it is impossible to think about the immortality and development of the Fatherland and the native people,” President said on the occasion.