Liyah Babayan: The Baku Pogrom & The Pain Of Survival

Liyah Babayan describes what her, and her family, experienced as Armenians during the Baku Pogrom - a horrendous act of mass violence perpetuated against the Armenian population in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. In particular, Liyah discusses how this experience profoundly impacted her development as an individual, having to bear the weight of indescribable trauma through adolescence and into adulthood - all while living as a refugee in the United States, with all the social pressures, barriers, and freedoms that come with that.

In the late 80’s and into the early 90’s, a pogrom was enacted against ethnic Armenians in the city of Baku (the nation’s capital and Liyah’s place of birth), as well as in surrounding areas, resulting in the expulsion, and mass murder, of thousands of Armenians - in what has been described as the Baku Pogrom: “From January 12, 1990, a seven-day pogrom broke out against the Armenians civilian population in Baku during which Armenians were beaten, tortured, murdered, and expelled from the city. There were also many raids on apartments, robberies and arsons. According to the Human Rights Watch reporter Robert Kushen, ‘the action was not entirely (or perhaps not at all) spontaneous, as the attackers had lists of Armenians and their addresses.’” (Source:

Liyah Babayan is a local entrepreneur, activist, Armenian refugee, and the owner of Ooh La La! consignment boutique ( in Twin Falls, Idaho. She is the author of a memoir titled ‘Liminal,’ release forthcoming.

This is a segment of the third episode in a series of interviews and conversations with individuals who, whether they officially or not fall under the category, are refugees. These episode are done in collaboration with Cynthia Jones, Artistic Director of the Inspirata Dance Project, for an upcoming production that will feature segments of these recordings.

This is a segment of episode #131 of Last Born In The Wilderness “The Other: Genocide; Life After w/ Liyah Babayan.” Listen to the full episode: