The twentieth century went down in history not only as an age of science and technology, but also as a century of national revival, the liberation of peoples from colonialism and the formation of national states.
Exactly 29 years ago, the Azerbaijani people took the national liberation movement. After 70 years under the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan had the chance to regain its independence.
On November 17, 1988 a single free voice of the Azerbaijani people, able to defend their interests, fight for their independence, and territorial integrity sounded for the first time. This day was a turning point on the way to the revival of national identity.
From the very beginning of 1988, Armenia launched an open aggression against Azerbaijan. With the explicit connivance of the then head of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev, with the support and direct instruction of the Armenian government, the mass expulsion of more than 200,000 Azerbaijanis who lived in Armenia began.
Millions of Azerbaijanis headed for the streets on this day, for the first time shouting slogans of freedom and demanding the restoration of their violated rights.
Azerbaijanis stood up to express their endless anger and distrust of the then Soviet leadership, and fought for their liberty from the empire.
It was a truly popular movement, a movement of single will for national independence. In early December, the movement was suppressed by Soviet troops. However, in the history of Azerbaijan these days have forever remained as the beginning of the national movement, and November 17 has since been considered a national revival day.
This campaign was called the “Movement of the Square”, and the largest Square in Baku, where Azerbaijanis conducted sit-in protests after the liberation movement, began to be called “Azadlig” (“Freedom”).
The protests lasted for 18 days and nights, becoming the ever largest protests in the USSR. The Azerbaijani people proved that they could stand up for themselves to defend their rights and motherland.
The scale of the protests forced Moscow to announce a state of emergency for the first time, mainly in Azerbaijan. The Soviet’s internal security forces used heavy equipment against the protesters, wounding and killing civilians.
Despite the many hardships facing Azerbaijan, the nation took bold steps toward democratization, reorganization, and rebuilding.
The day is devoted to the enligheteners, the fighters for national liberation who have preserved through the centuries the spiritual values of the nation and its morality.
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