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Exhibition in Klaipeda dedicated to the Sumgait pogroms


On May 15th, at the initiative of the Embassy of Armenia to Lithuania and with the support of the local Armenian community the opening ceremony of the exhibition entitled "Sumgait 30" was held at the Simonaitytė Public Library in Klaipeda, Lithuania. Public, political and cultural figures, media, representatives of the Armenian community and journalists attended the event.

Mr. Albert Albertjan, chairperson of the Klaipeda Armenian community “Van”, delivered opening remarks touching upon the Sumgait events and noting that the state of Azerbaijan, having only a 100-year history, has put Armenophobia on the basis of its national identity. Touching upon the implementation of this policy at the state level, Mr. Albertjan noted that one of the most striking examples of this is the 1988 Sumgait massacre, as well as war crimes committed by Azerbaijani troops during the war unleashed by Azerbaijan in April 2016.

Tigran Mkrtchyan, Armenia's Ambassador to Lithuania, presented the exhibition and its contents organised on the basis of archival materials. The Ambassador touched upon the rising pace of Armenophobia in Azerbaijan, noting that the purpose of such events has always been remembering the past tragedy in order to prevent similar future cases. In order to achieve this goal, civilized humanity must act in unison.

The second part of the event was devoted to Saulius Paliulis, a representative of the Lithuanian armed forces, who saved the life of Armenian serviceman Hayk Makuchyan, from Ramil Safarov, who had axed Armenian officer Gurgen Margaryan during NATO trainings in Budapest in February 2004.

Ambassador Mkrtchyan conveyed the "Vazgen Sargsyan" Medal of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Armenia to the former military officer and currently an employee of Klaipeda Municipality Saulius Paliulis for the heroic support shown in circumstances threatening the life of Armenian military Hayk Makuchyan. The Ambassador also noted that Armenian people will always be grateful for the courage shown by Paliulis.

Saulius Paliulis expressing gratitude for the award, mentioned in his speech, that although 14 years have passed since that day, everything is still fresh in his memory and added, "The soldiers are acting on the battlefield, and not by killing those sleeping at night."

Remark: The Sumgait 30 exhibition, which was first shown in Vilnius, consists of four main parts: first the background of the massacres of Armenians in Sumgayit in late February 1988 are presented, then the death certificates of some of the victims are published, and in the third and fourth parts, the reaction of prominent individuals and international media outlets and international institutions are showed.

Until the recent times, Saulius Paliulis was in service in the Lithuanian Armed Forces and completed his service with the military rank of lieutenant colonel. Currently, Saulius Paliulis is the head of the Division of Sport and Physical Education of the Department of Education and Culture of the City of Klaipeda. In November 23, 2004 Paliulis was decorated with the "Life Saving Cross" state award by then Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus.

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