Over the night from February 27 to 28, 1988 the riots claimed the lives of 32 people, 26 of which were Armenians and 6 Azerbaijanis
The Sumgayit Events were part of the plan organized by the USSR State Security Committee together with Armenians. This was a big provocation against Azerbaijan.
Afig Asgarov is one of the witnesses of the Sumgayit Events. Armenians slandered and arrested him 29 years ago.
-At that time Armenians held demonstrations in Yerevan shouting out slogans such as “Karabakh belongs to Armenia”. They were inflicting harm upon Azerbaijanis in Western Azerbaijan and Armenia. Tensions escalated when Armenians killed Azerbaijanis in Qafan on February 14-15, 1988. No one in Sumgait was aware about the iflictions. Mass Media was writing nothing. When first refugees began to come to Sumgayit from Qafan, people of Sumgayit understood that Azerbaijanis were being repelled from their native lands.
A large crowd of people began to gather in streets in order to get detailed information.
Series of rallies were held on February 24 and 25. The incendiary remarks were passed and provocative acts were committed during the rallies. How could we know that they were preconditioned Armenian saboteurs? During those pogroms Armenians killed one another.
Everyone was confused. We had been living with Armenians in Sumgait for many years. How come they began claiming on Karabakh. They were threating us with death.
On the day of the pogrom, Azerbaijanis hid some Armenians in their houses in order to save them from the Krunk members.
The shootings of the Sumgayit events shows that Armenians planned everything beforehand.
On February 28 people gathered in Sumgayit Park. Police officers tried to disperse the crowd, but the people stayed there. Later firefighters came and hit the people with water cannons. The crowd had to leave. The city was wrapped in black smoke. I got dressed and went out. I saw the police car was on fire.
At night at around 21:00-22:00, the Russian soldiers came to the scene with `Ural` cars. On February 29 the curfew was imposed in the city. As a result of the events, 3 Azerbaijanis were executed.
Although Sumgayit events happened on February 28-29, French televisions broadcasted news on it on March 2. Obviously, Armenians planned these pogroms in advance.
That day, I was on night shift at school. The military men captured me and my comrades. We were 4 people.
People were interrogated in front of the police headquarters.
The Security Committee defined the identities of the people attended the events. After checking us, 20-30 people were taken to the prison in Shuvelan. But we were brought to the Bayil prison as the Shuvelan prison was overcrowded. We stayed 12 days there.
Although one of the men told that he did not attend those pogroms, Armenians casted aspersions upon him. I asked them, `Why do you band together about 10 000 people here? What are you going to do?`. They told that we would be lined up and shot to death.
Investigators from Moscow had questioned us for 5-6 times a day. After questioning, we appeared in Court in Sumgayit and jailed people were liberated.
Narrator: Gunel Babayeva
Correspondent: Eldar Tanriverdiyev