2010-01-26 – Pogrom Commemorations To Counter Baku’s Anti-Armenian PR

by on 2010/01/26  •  In Wikileaks

Viewing cable 10YEREVAN41, POGROM COMMEMORATIONS TO COUNTER BAKU’S

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10YEREVAN41 2010-01-26 11:55 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Yerevan
VZCZCXRO7958
RR RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHYE #            0041/01 0261155      
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 261155Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY YEREVAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9968
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORPORATION WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 YEREVAN 000041 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/25/2020 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL PBTS TU AJ AM
SUBJECT: POGROM COMMEMORATIONS TO COUNTER BAKU'S 
ANTI-ARMENIAN PR 

YEREVAN 00000041  001.2 OF 002 

Classified By: AMB Marie L. Yovanovitch, reasons 1.4 (b,d). 

------- 
SUMMARY 
------- 

1. (C) During the past several weeks, extensive 
commemorations of the January 1990 pogroms of Armenians in 
Baku have taken place in Yerevan.  The GOAM's sponsorship and 
support of the commemorations appears to be qualitatively and 
quantitatively higher than in recent years.  Post learned 
that the new, high-level attention is intended as a riposte 
to anti-Armenian propaganda spread by Azerbaijan.  END 
SUMMARY. 

--------------------- 
POGROM COMMEMORATIONS 
--------------------- 

2. (SBU) Over the last several weeks, numerous events have 
been held in Yerevan to commemorate the January 1990 pogroms 
in Baku in which approximately 50 ethnic Armenians were 
killed, and which, together with other events, would prompt 
over 350,000 Armenians to flee Azerbaijan.  Larisa 
Alaverdian, a Baku native, Armenia's first Human Rights 
Defender, and now an MP for the opposition Heritage party, 
said she hoped the events would address what she called 
Armenian society's passivity and ignorance about the events 
20 years ago. Calling this passivity dangerous, she said the 
1990 pogroms were a continuation of earlier ones committed in 
Azerbaijan (1905-07, 1918, and  1988-92).  Singling out Pan 
Turkism ideology as the catalyst for the massacres, 
Alaverdian  said "it's not accidental that the events that 
took place at the end of the 20th century are called the 
continuation of the same Turkish genocide realized against 
the Armenians, because it is the same ideology, the same 
policy, the same aims and the same people who realized it." 
Alaverdian accused Azerbaijan of falsifying the facts of the 
various massacres in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and 
called on the international community to recognize these 
massacres as genocide. 

3. (C) The first event to be held was a January 15 roundtable 
put on by Armenia's Human Rights Defender (Ombudsman) 
entitled "Ethnic Cleanings (sic) in Azerbaijan: Baku 1990). 
(Comment:  The Embassy declined the invitation to attend, 
given our view that these commemorations are unhelpful to the 
Turkey-Armenia normalization and NK settlement processes. 
End Comment.)  During the week of January 13-19, special 
classes on the January 1990 pogroms were conducted in 
Armenian secondary schools, with Armenian's Education 
Minister leading one of these classes.  On January 19, 
members of youth NGOs, youth councils, and the youth wings of 
various political parties signed a petition addressed to 
international organizations, parliaments, and UN member 
states' governments declaring their intention to fight for 
the international recognition of the "Armenian Genocide" in 
1990 in Baku. Prime Minister Tigran Sargsian and other GOAM 
officials visited Armenia's Genocide Memorial complex that 
same day to pay tribute to the victims of the January 1990 
pogroms. 

4. (SBU) On January 20, Armenia's National Academy of 
Sciences held a conference devoted to the 20-year anniversary 
of the January 1990 pogroms in which a documentary on the 
pogroms was shown.  Post learned that the Public Affairs and 
Information Center at the Presidency prepared the documentary 
(but was not attributed as the film's sponsor), and that the 
PM, Speaker of the Parliament, and Yerevan's mayor attended. 
Various political forces in the "parliament" of the "Nagorno 
Karabakh Republic" also issued a joint statement on the 20th 
devoted to the anniversary of the pogroms, appealing to the 
UN, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, and the parliaments of 
Minsk Group Co-chair countries to carry out an unbiased 
investigation of the crimes committed in Baku January 13-19, 
1990. 

--------------------------------------------- ----- 
COMMEMORATIONS TO COUNTER BAKU'S ANTI-ARMENIAN PR 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 

5. (C) A contact at the UNDP personally invited by the Human 
Rights Defender to attend his roundtable told us that the 
Ombudsman held it to a) counter aggressive Azerbaijani "PR" 
on alleged NK war atrocities by ethnic Armenian forces, and 
b) highlight to Armenia's domestic audience the official 
neglect that ethnic Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan have 
suffered since arriving in Armenia.  When we contacted the 
Ombudsman directly, after his roundtable, he confirmed that 
this year's commemorations were the first time that the GOAM 
has chosen to mark them at such a high level. 

YEREVAN 00000041  002.2 OF 002 

6. (C) Arman Melikian, the former "foreign minister" of the 
"Nagorno Karabakh Republic," told us he welcomed the GOAM's 
pro-active commemorations.  He said that previously the 
authorities did not see a need for them, and thought "making 
noise about the pogroms" would hurt the NK conflict 
negotiations.  Now, Melikian said, "they finally understood 
that the policy of silence was wrong and unproductive." 
Khachik Kokobelian, an influential figure in the opposition 
Armenian National Congress, told us he views the 
commemorations as "a signal to Aliyev that "we were silent on 
this issue previously, but won't be anymore." 

------- 
COMMENT 
------- 

7. (C) This year's commemorations have definitely received a 
higher level of government support and attention than in 
previous years.  Many here think the GOAM has been too 
passive in informing the international community of what 
happened to Armenians in Azerbaijan in the closing days of 
the Soviet Union when Nagorno Karabakh ethnic Armenians broke 
away from Baku.  They believe that the GOAM's passivity has 
fostered ignorance of these modern-day Armenian tragedies 
abroad and at home, and ceded the moral high ground to 
Azerbaijan and its aggressive campaign to highlight 
Azerbaijani suffering.  The involvement of the Presidency, 
PM, and Ombudsman in this year's commemorations, as well as 
the government-backed events, suggest that the GOAM will take 
a more active role in commemorating the Armenian victims of 
recent ethnic violence to ensure that the world better 
understands that past. 
YOVANOVITCH

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