The reason for the rally was the thirty-first anniversary of the pogroms in the Azerbaijani city of Sumqayit
A protest took place on Freedom Square in Yerevan last night with approximately 2,000 people demanding that the Armenian authorities not make territorial concessions to Azerbaijan during negotiations on the Karabakh conflict.
The protestors unfolded a 100-metre Armenian flag.
The main slogans of the protest were “There is no territory for concessions to Azerbaijan”, “The guarantor of freedom is a powerful national army” and “Karabakh is not a territory, but a holy homeland”.
The participants stated they were appealing not only to the authorities of Armenia, but also to the global community, making it clear they would not accept the surrender of the territories of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Initially, the organizers stated that the demonstration has no political context.
“It always makes sense to talk about it [the Karabakh conflict]. The demonstration was held so as to always be on the alert. This is not an accusation, the protest is not directed against the authorities,” said former deputy of the National Assembly of Armenia, Ruben Gevorgian.
Veterans of the Karabakh war also took part in the demonstration.
The Sumqayit pogroms
The reason for holding the protest today was the thirty-first anniversary of the pogroms in the Azerbaijani city of Sumqayit.
The Sumgayit pogroms began on the evening of 26 February 1988 and continued until 29 February. According to eyewitnesses, a crowd with sticks and iron rods made the rounds of local apartments, looking for Armenian families. The pogroms were accompanied by robberies, murders and arson.
Various sources put the number of dead at 32 to several hundred. After the Sumqayit events, the first refugees from Azerbaijan arrived in Armenia.
British journalist Thomas de Waal wrote in his book Black Garden about the history of the Karabakh conflict: “These events were the first outbreak of mass violence in modern Soviet history.”
The procession in Yerevan started at the Tsitsernakaberd memorial complex. The participants first laid flowers at the monument in memory of the victims of the pogroms in Sumqayit, then moved to Freedom Square.
After the change of power in Armenia, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced that he would lead a new policy of resolving the Karabakh conflict.
He insisted that the Karabakh side participate in the negotiations, given that the head of Armenia is not elected by the people of Karabakh. Pashinyan said he can negotiate on behalf of Armenia, but not Karabakh.
Meanwhile, the Armenian Prime Minister and the President of Azerbaijan have held several informal meetings. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated that they are not discussing the possibility of territorial concessions during the Karabakh settlement.
He particularly stressed that he will not allow for discussions of the concept of “territory for peace”, that is, transferring areas around Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan from the so-called security belt in exchange for signing a peace treaty.
Recently, the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan have repeatedly met. Following the results of these negotiations, the parties agreed to “prepare the nations for peace”.