Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of a tragic event in the history of the country of Azerbaijan.
On the night of January 19, 1990, Azerbaijan was invaded by thousands of Soviet troops. These troops entered Azerbaijan under the pretext of restoring public order, but with the true aim of ending peaceful demonstrations for independence.
Despite resistance to the Soviet troops by Azerbaijanis, more than 130 Azerbaijani people were killed and hundreds more were wounded or detained indefinitely. This episode came to be known as "Black January,'' a terrible event that only sharpened the desire for independence among the people of Azerbaijan.
By 1991, popular pressure had restored the independence of Azerbaijan. On August 30, 1991, Azerbaijan's Parliament adopted the Declaration on the Restoration of the State Independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and on October 18, 1991, the Constitutional Act on the State Independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan was approved. The United States established diplomatic relations with Azerbaijan in 1992. Since then, Azerbaijan has been a steadfast ally to the United States and an important strategic partner in the region.
Each year, the people of Azerbaijan remember those who lost their lives on Black January in 1990 and honor their sacrifice through their commitment to the ideals of democracy.
I urge my colleagues to commit to fostering a strong partnership between the United States and Azerbaijan so that together, we can promote freedom and democracy around the world.