At the central square of Sumgait during the days of pogroms, February 1988. Photo from the archive of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute:

28 February 2019, 11:20

Anniversary of Sumgait pogroms reminds of unresolved refugees' problem

The issue of refugees' return, including from Sumgait and the payment of compensations to them should be discussed at the official Azerbaijan-Armenia talks, but it is not raised, said Avaz Gasanov, the head of the Azerbaijani Society for Humanitarian Studies. The issue of paying compensations to refugees from Sumgait can only be considered in conjunction with the issue of compensations for damages to all the victims of the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict, Shakhin Gadjiev, the editor of the "Turan" News Agency, believes.

The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on February 26, about two thousand people gathered in Yerevan for an action on the anniversary of Sumgait pogroms.

The Sumgait pogroms lasted from the evening of February 26 to February 29, 1988, and they were the first mass explosion of ethnic violence on the eve of the collapse of the Soviet Union. The pogroms led to the first flows of refugees from Azerbaijan to Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, whereas the first refugees from Armenia had already arrived in Azerbaijan by that time. According to Armenian sources and eyewitnesses, several hundred people fell victim to the pogroms, and of them, about 100 people were killed.

To the request to comment on the demands for payment of compensations to Sumgait refugees, Avaz Gasanov responded that the problem of refugees and forced migrants is an important part of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. However, according to his version, at the official Azerbaijani-Armenian talks, the issue of the mutual return of refugees or the payment of compensations to them is not raised.

As for the statistics on the number of refugees from Azerbaijan, according to Gasanov, the Armenian party claims that their total number is 400,000 people. According to the Azerbaijani party, the number of Armenian refugees can be no more than 300-350,000 people, Mr Gasanov has stated.

The issue of how justified are the claims on Azerbaijan for the payment of compensations to refugees from Sumgait can only be considered in the complex – in the context of compensating for the damages to all the victims of the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict, the "Turan" editor Shakhin Gadjiev has stated.

"After all, refugees were from both sides of the conflict. There were not less refugees from Armenia than from Azerbaijan. We must also take into account the fact that at least 700,000 people became forced migrants from Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven surrounding districts," Mr Gadjiev has added.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on February 28, 2019 at 01:51 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

Author: Faik Medzhid, Magomed Tuayev; Source: CK correspondents

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