Azeri Jews have paid tribute to the victims of Black January, when Soviet troops entered Azerbaijan on 20 January 1990 to quash independence protests.
The military intervention, which focused on the capital of Baku, led to the deaths of 170 civilians at the hands of the Soviet army, soon becoming a pivotal event in the contemporary history of Azerbaijan.
Among the peaceful residents of Baku killed in the massacre were three Jews: emergency care doctor Alexander Markhevka, 17-year-old Vera Bessantina, and Yan Meerovich, who sustained 22 wounds.
To mark the tragedy, which analysts say served as the start of the Soviet Union’s demise, Azerbaijan’s small Jewish community hosted a charity event. A memorial service was also held in the Ardabil mosque in Quba.
In attendance were local government officials including Pisakh Isakov, representative of the religious community of ‘Mountain Jews’. They distributed food packages to the families of the victims, as well as the city’s isolated elderly population.
Israel’s Ambassador to Baku George Deek said: “Today I came to the Alley of Martyrs, on behalf of the State of Israel, to honour the memory of those who fell for the freedom of Azerbaijan. All sacrificed some, but some sacrificed all. We stand with Azerbaijan in honouring the victims of Black January.”
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