By Sahibzasa M. Saeed
On 20 January 1990, Soviet troops swarmed into seaside city of Baku with machanised columns. Heavy handed crackdown of forces in this Strike (Udar) operation resulted in indiscriminate killing of 137 civilians with hundreds wounded and many missing. The aggression is known as “Black January” or “January Massacre”. Black January in Baku was in response to Azerbaijan’s drive to regain its independence. Black January was terrible and sad day for Azerbaijan however it is also considered as milestone on the road to its freedom and independence. Black January is commended every year in Azerbaijan as national mourning day with national flag flown at half-staff within the country and in diplomatic missions abroad.
Black January has basis in Ethnic conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh. This was part of Soviet Azerbaijan having Armenian population as majority. Conflict started, when parliament of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) in Azerbaijan voted for unification of this region with Armenia in 1988 without consulting or informing local Azeri population. Locals did not accept the decision and started peaceful protest. Local Armenian force opened fire and killed two protestors. This resulted in violent conflict and massive cleansing of Azeri population in the area. At the dissolution of Soviet Union, Local Armenian separatists self-declared this region as Republic of Artsakh which was rejected by International community. Armenian forces entered the area and started brutal killing of local Azerbaijani people. This led to migration of hundreds of millions of people from this region to Azerbaijan. UN General Assembly demanded immediate, complete and unconditional removal of Armenian forces from Nagorno-Karabakh by passing a resolution on 14 March 2008. UN Security Council also recognized this region as part of Azerbaijan and demanded complete withdrawal of Armenian forces from disputed area by passing four resolutions (822, 853, 874 and 884) but these have not been implemented till now. The current government in Azerbaijan under the leadership of His Excellency President Ilham Aliyev is very much serious to resolve outstanding issues with Armenia. Most recently, the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia met in Paris. This depicts that Azerbaijan want peaceful settlement according to UNSC and Minsk agreement.
On similar grounds in South Asia, India is using excessive force to oppress peaceful Kashmiris. India is annoyed from strong determination of Kashmiris and uses various tactics to suppress their freedom movement. Indian forces are committing heinous war crimes and human right violations in occupied Kashmir since 1989 that included over 100,000 killing, 120,000 rape cases, 20537 people injured and more than 1,000 lost their vision due to Pellet Gun fire. Kashmiri Women are highly motivated for Independence of their homeland as their hearts are full of courage to dream freedom, so they attend protests. Indian forces have done more than 150 “Braid chopping” attacks to create mass panic and mob violence. But Kashmiri women have displayed great valour against Indian brutalities with courage and determination. India is continuously maligning Kashmiris’ struggle for independence and brands it as terrorism. Indian government is using this propaganda to divert world’s attention from Kashmir issue. Indian coercive tactics include interlocutor appointment for only publicity & buy time, use of force to intimidate Huriyat leadership, media propaganda to politicise demand for freedom by Kashmiri people. Due to brutal force use and cold blooded massacre, India is losing hearts and minds of Kashmiris which now want their sovereignty and don’t like Indian occupation anymore.
Burhan Wani, Kashmiri freedom fighter has become voice of every Kashmiri after he was martyred in 2016 by Indian forces. His killing has given new life to freedom movement throughout Kashmir that had withered in recent years, Sympathy for freedom fighters has increased many folds, and locals speak about them openly with much reverence and warmth. Now, new trend is increasing number of Funeral prayer attendees that shows India is losing grip on Kashmir. Indian Journalist Santosh Bhartiya wrote an open letter to PM Modi saying “the land of Kashmir is with us, the people of Kashmir are not with us.” BJP senior leader Yashwant Sinha admits that “India has lost people of the valley emotionally”. Pakistan wants solution of Kashmir issue according to wish of Kashmiris. But every time when Pakistan wants to solve Kashmir issue through peaceful dialogue or through international organizations, India starts blame game and cause hindrance to this process.
Two international conflicts Nagorno-Karabakh, Kashmir located have many similarities. Armenia occupied Nagorno-Karabakh with millions of Azeris forcibly displaced and similarly India occupied Kashmir with millions of Kashmir displaced from their land. Pakistan has strongly supported Azerbaijan on this issue on all international forums as this issue is base of Black January and has not recognized Armenia. Similarly Azerbaijan remains always committed to support Pakistan on Kashmir conflict. It is need of the time that international powers should understand that peace in South Asia and Caucuses will be possible by resolving these conflicts peacefully and in the light of UN General Assembly resolutions and they should put serious efforts to solve these issues, otherwise world could not defeat thinking that caused events like “Black January”.
Opined by Sahibzasa M. Saeed, an IR Analyst based in Islamabad and could be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of Dispatch News Desk.