Part I – Remembering Sumgait

2015 marks the 27th anniversary of the Sumgait pogroms. The pogroms took place in late February in the seaside town of Sumgait and were the first act of outright Azeri collective aggression towards Armenians. Official statistics state 32 dead, unofficial more than a hundred. AYF London has for numerous years been raising awareness for the Sumgait pogroms in and around London. This year AYF London will be releasing three articles on the subject. This article will focus on why we raise awareness for Sumgait. The second article will focus on the proceedings at Sumgait while the third will relate Sumgait to the present day.

It is easy for one to make the link between the Armenian Genocide and the Sumgait pogroms, however I would ask one not to make this link. Yes, Armenians were specifically targeted due to ethnicity at Sumgait however this does not mean to say we should devalue the genocide by associating it with a different kind of violence, collective violence. Collective violence is defined by the World Health Organisation as “the instrumental use of violence by people who identify themselves as members of a group against another group of set individuals in order to achieve political, economic or social objectives”.

We raise awareness for this act of collective violence as it has been largely forgotten by the world due to Azeri political efforts. It is important for all to learn about acts of brutal violence like that seen in Sumgait to see how the process of ethnic hatred starts and how it progresses into war. It is a result of antagonising acts like Sumgait that Karabagh is still in this dangerous state of frozen war rather than having a peace treaty that guarantees its security. This is how the mood of the population can be influenced in a direction that is co-ordinated with an immoral foreign policy. Sumgait is not the first example of it, nor it is the last and for that reason we must raise awareness of brutal pogroms like Sumgait to better understand our society and further the universal cause of morality.

— Vahe Boghosian

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