On the first days of 1988, Armenia started its evident aggression against Azerbaijan. Seeing Moscow and particularly the head of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev's indifferent attitude towards these events, the Armenians started mass deportation of the Azerbaijanis from their native lands in Armenia under the instructions of the Armenian government.
More than 200,000 Azerbaijanis were deported from their homes, killed by the Armenians. Gorbachev and the rest of the USSR leadership had no reaction to the Armenian vandalism.
In early February 1988, Armenians carried out revolts in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and even raised the issue of joining those lands with Armenia.
Azerbaijani people expressed protest to the government. Slogans, portraits and flags carried by the Azerbaijani citizens proved their belief to Moscow and local authorities at that time. But getting no serious answer from Moscow and the then government, people from every corner of the republic moved to Baku and gathered on Azadlig Square (Lenin Square at that time), held meetings and evidently expressed their protest.
Azerbaijani people started an indefinite rally on Azadlig Square against the anti-Azerbaijani policy of the USSR on Nov.17, 1988. It was a real national liberation movement. The Soviet troops dispersed the nationwide rally in early December. These events are regarded in Azerbaijan as the start of the national liberation movement and the main factor in gaining independence.
November 17 has been marked as the Day of National Revival since 1992.