In an effort to preserve a crucial chapter of Armenian history, the Armenian National Committee Western Region’s (ANC WR) Education Committee joined forces with the Rerooted in April 2023 to record and share the deeply personal and painful stories of those who survived brutal pogroms of Armenians in Soviet Azerbaijan, which resulted in the ethnic cleansing of more than 300,000 Armenians from Baku, Kirovabad, Sumgait and other regions of Soviet Azerbaijan.
Beginning with the Sumgait massacres in February 1988 and continuing with the pogroms in Kirovabad and Baku in November 1988 and January 1990 respectively, the pogroms were comprised of a series of severe and systemic acts of violence, including killings, sexual violence, and forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Armenian civilians at the hands of Azerbaijani residents and authorities.
The End of the 20th Century Anti-Armenian Pogroms Collection Project, also known as The Pogroms Collection, is focused on creating a comprehensive archive of survivor testimonies to serve as an essential resource for education, research, public awareness, and advocacy. This effort is a step towards honoring the memory of the victims and survivors, ensuring that their experiences of endurance in the face of adversity are recognized and preserved, and that the atrocities committed are met with the due diligence of accountability, including through restitution and the preservation of the right of return of Armenians to their homes.
“Survivor testimonies from this significant period of history are primary sources that reveal the realities of man’s inhumanity to man and the lasting impact of these experiences,” said Alice Petrossian, Chair of ANC WR Education Committee. “They remind us of the importance of protecting human rights and drive our agency to stand for justice.”
One of the survivors of the pogroms interviewed by ANC WR’s Education Committee member Arpi Krikorian said “I was told to go to a theater in downtown [Baku] where a lot of Armenians gathered to hide and protect themselves… I didn’t end up going, and I’m glad I didn’t, because I later saw on the news that they [Azerbaijanis] had set fire to that theater.”
Another survivor interviewed recalled a painful moment of his experience, stating: “I overheard a police officer’s radio… he was being told that Azerbaijanis broke into a hospital and killed Armenian babies, pregnant women…”
“Rerooted is grateful to the Education Committee members for their commitment to this joint effort to document the truth and to build a repository that will combat denialism and revisionism,” said Ani Schug, co-founder of Rerooted.
“We believe oral history allows for interviewees to feel an individual acknowledgement of the harms they suffered while facilitating collective acknowledgement through accountability efforts on a greater scale,” said Anoush Baghdassarian, co-founder of Rerooted.
If you are a survivor of the 1988-1990 Kirovabad, Sumgait, and Baku pogroms and would like to have your testimony recorded, please complete the form at this link: https://ancawr.org/pogroms-project-interviewee-registration-form/. If you are interested in volunteering for the Pogroms Project, please complete the form at this link: https://ancawr.org/volunteer/.
About the ANC-WR Education Committee: Comprised of dedicated community members from the field of education, the ANC-WR Education Committee fosters and maintains relations with officials, education stakeholders, and representatives from community-based organizations that deal with education and youth matters. More specifically, the committee focuses on implementing Genocide Education curricula including understanding of the Armenian culture and current critical issues in public schools and works with local ANC-WR chapters to address the needs of Armenian-American teachers, parents and students at school sites by monitoring and proposing activities and programs.=
About Rerooted: Rerooted celebrates and explores Armenian identity in communities around the world and advocates for their just and safe futures. We produce accessible, digital collections of testimonies, photographs and documents to be used to create resources that display the resilience of our Armenian communities and tools to advocate for their prosperity in the face of modern-day challenges. Rerooted was founded in 2017 by Anoush Baghdassarian and Ani Schug, two Armenian Diasporans, on the values of being a trustworthy and open archive that would be used for action. They began their collection focusing on the Syrian-Armenian community to document both the harms they experienced during war and the beautiful identity and community they had created over one hundred years. With the philosophy they developed and skills they acquired from their first collection, Rerooted expanded to Armenian communities around the world.