By Florence Avakian
NEW YORK — The 28th anniversary of the Sumgait pogroms was remembered and commemorated on February 28 at St. Vartan Cathedral. It was sponsored and organized by Marina Bagdasarova of the Brooklyn Armenian Mission Parish, and Dr. Svetlana Amirkhanian, president and founder of Direct Help for Armenian People (DHAP).
Following a solemn requiem service after the Holy Badarak service at St. Vartan Cathedral, more than 100 people, many former residents of Azerbaijan, congregated at Kavookjian Hall, for a special commemorative program of poignant remarks, poetry and music.
Starting off with a minute of silence for the hundreds of Armenian victims who were brutally massacred in Sumgait on February 27 to 29, 1988, Bagdasarova related that in addition to the actual murders, another 18,000 fled to Armenia, many of whom were killed in the December 7, 1988 earthquake in Armenia.
Sumgait was not alone, related Bagdasarova. The violence continued until 1992 in Kirovabad, Baku and Maragha by Azeris using axes, knives, crowbars, clubs and hammers, cutting Armenian victims to pieces, raping, torturing, and throwing men, women and children off balconies. These acts of such perverse cruelty were reminiscent of the 1915 Genocide of the Armenians by Ottoman Turkey.
“We will never forget. We will never forgive,” declared Bagdasarova. Genocide and massacres must not be forgotten. We must attempt to achieve recognition, justice, and punishment of the perpetrators. Our hope and legacy for the future is to stop violence for future generations,” she said.