The Sumgait Tragedy

In 1990, the Zoryan Institute collected first-hand tape-recorded interviews from forty-five eyewitnesses and victims of the Sumgait pogroms against Armenians in February 1988. These testimonies were published in the book, The Sumgait Tragedy, and share detailed information about the attacks, and what the survivors saw and suffered.

The accounts from this collection make clear what the Armenians did not see: a serious, effective effort by authorities to fulfill the first duty of any government – to protect its citizens. Why were warnings that violence was ready to flare up not heeded? Why did measures taken to halt the attacks come too late? How accurate is the Soviet description of the events as the violence of a small group of hooligans? Such questions go beyond the fate of the victims of the Sumgait pogroms. They raise doubts about the motives of the Soviet government and about its ability to meet the rightful demands of its peoples.

As Yelena Bonner writes in the forward of this book, “…our regime fears unsanctioned popular movements more than anything else… the government’s lack of understanding and its inability to cope provided time for the dark forces to plan what happened in Sumgait.”

This book is available for free online, visit Zoryan Institute’s online books to read now.