• Polymath Weekly

Azerbaijan's National Revival Day: a Brief Overview

Updated: Dec 27, 2021

Since 1992, November 17 is celebrated as the National Revival Day in Azerbaijan. In 1988, on the same day, mass demonstrations began in Baku's then-Lenin square (now called the Azadlıq square).

Who was protesting and why?

The marchers were protesting against the Soviet government and were mainly concerned about the growing political tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as the inflow of local refugees as a result of the conflict. People demanded changes of the political system to adjust to the difficult situation, as well as firmer action against Armenians in the Karabakh region, the territorial centre of the conflict. More importantly, many called for Azerbaijan's separation from the Soviet Union: people wanted an independent republic.


After decades of living under the Soviet regime, Azerbaijanis took to the streets calling for independence. Fall 1988. Lenin Square, Baku, Azerbaijan. [Image Source: Turan News Agency]

What was the outcome?

On November 22, curfews were imposed in Baku. To stop the growing opposition further, the Soviet army stepped in, along with local troops and units. In a little over a week, hundreds of people were arrested and the protests were brought to an end.

Why are these events important in the history of Azerbaijan?

Despite the brutality and violence that can be seen in this episode of Azerbaijani history, the 17th of November, which is now referred to as National Revival Day, symbolizes the beginning of the national movement of liberation from the Soviet Union, which Azerbaijan was a part of for over 70 years.

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