EDITORIAL: Sumgait Commemorations

London’s Armenians observed the 26th anniversary of the Sumgait massacre on Sunday, February 23rd. Simultaneously, we remembered the brutal murder of Gurgen Margaryan – an Armenian General who, while attending a NATO language course in Hungary in 2004, was decapitated in his sleep by ‘fellow classmate’ Ramil Safarov, an Azeri Officer. The two historical events now go hand in hand as in both cases the aggressors have been Azeri.

Gurgen Margaryan, a General in the Armenian army, was murdered in his sleep back in 2004 while attending a NATO English course in Budapest. The murderer was an axe-wielding Azeri Officer, Ramil Safarov, who with 16 hacks almost beheaded Gurgen. Ramil was tried and sentenced to life in prison in Hungary, where he was incarcerated until August 2012. At that point, Hungary extradited Safarov to Azerbaijan after it was agreed that he would serve the remainder of his term there. However, on arrival he was received as a national hero and was immediately pardoned by Aliyev himself. We will continue to oppose the release of this convicted and self-confessed savage being.

The Sumgait Massacre took place over 3 days in February 1988, during which hundreds of Armenian civilians lost their lives at the hands of a merciless and barbaric Azeri mob – a mob that was instigated and encouraged by the very state in which those innocent Armenians lived.

It’s noteworthy that what happened there a quarter-century ago could be argued to constitute genocide; although indeed to a lesser extent to that of 1915, but for all the same reasons they are remembered and justice must continue to be pursued on their behalf.

Passers-by were handed leaflets, outlining the basics of the crime, as well as free copies of the book The Sumgait Syndrome so as to aid their deeper self-education. With placards in hand and flags raised we 60-or-so embraced the cold for three hours: it would have undoubtedly been a warmer scene had more of us gathered.

Pictures of the protest rally can be found here (photo credit: Raffi Youredjian) and here (photo credit: Russell Pollard).

— Heros Jojaghaian

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