SUMGAIT TRAGEDY: Pogroms Against Armenians in Soviet Azerbaijan
Edited by Samuel Shahmuratian Foreward by Yelena Bonner
The pogroms against Armenians in February 1988 in Sumgait (Azerbaijan) blocked a political solution to the peaceful demands of the Armenians for self-determination. They brought death to a community and ran people out of their homes. They showed the helplessness or unwillingness of a powerful government to protect its people.
In The Sumgait Tragedy forty-five eyewitnesses and victims of the attacks tell what they saw and suffered. The accounts, based on tape-recorded interviews, also make clear what the Armenians did not see: a serious, effective effort by the authorities to fulfill the first duty of any government - to protects its citizens. Why were warnings that violence was ready to flare up not heeded? Why did measures taken to halt the attacks come too late? How accurate is the Soviet description of the event as the violence of a small group of hooligans?
Such questions go beyond the fate of the victims of the Sumgait pogroms. They raise doubts about the motives of the Soviet government and about its ability to meet the rightful demands of its peoples.