Tragedy of 20th of January is one of the crucial moments in the history of Azerbaijan and in the nation's struggle for independence from the former Soviet Union. During the night of 19th to 20th of January 1990 the Soviet army committed an awful crime against the Azerbaijanis in Baku, in an attempt to impede the independence movement and to avert the fall of the Communist regime in Azerbaijan.
This massacre went down in history of Azerbaijan as “Black January” resulted in an aggression and massive murder of civilians, mostly elderly people and children. More than 147 people died, 744 people were wounded.
The behavior of Soviet armed forces in Baku must be judged in the context of their actual mission. The use of force in Baku was nothing but the desperate attempt to stop dissolution of Communist ruling in Azerbaijan. The Soviet army was trying to rescue the totalitarian regime, the rule of Communist Party and Soviet empire. Human Rights Watch report, entitled "Black January in Azerbaijan", states: "Indeed, the violence used by the Soviet Army on the night of January 19-20 was so out of proportion to the resistance offered by Azerbaijanis as to constitute an exercise in collective punishment”. Despite the bloody attempt by the Soviet army Azerbaijan restored its independence from the Soviet Union on October 18, 1991.