The history, reason and forms of deportation of the Azerbaijanis from their homes in Western Azerbaijan (Armenia)
With its geographical position and natural resources Azerbaijan has always attracted the attention of aggressive foreigners. In different times of history, the territories of Azerbaijan were attacked by various enemies. In the XVII-XX centuries as the result of Russia’s and its accomplice in the Caucasus Armenia’s policy of occupation our territories were seized and our people faced massive massacres.
In the X century, the Russians started to be interested in the areas around the Caspian Sea, including the territories of Azerbaijan. Throughout the long run of history, Russia’s princes, tsars and generals wanted to seize the national wealth of Azerbaijan.
This policy was implemented in the Caucasus and Azerbaijan starting from the XVII century. Tsar Peter I thought thoroughly about the idea on how to expand the territory of Russia and appropriate the territories around the Caspian Sea. For this reason Peter I sent his secret service in the region. It is obvious that in order to carry out his plans, he was looking for the supporters among the local people of the Caucasus. He obtained this support in the Armenians.
On November 10, 1724 Peter I signed a decree on the protection of the Armenian people. Catherine II also signed a similar decree in the support of the Armenians. In 1769 a person named Movses Sapharian presented to the Russian government the draft of the program on the lebration of Armenia. As the result of Russia’s protection, the Armenians opened a publishing house of Khaldaryan in St. Petersburg, which played a big role in the aggravation of hatred towards the Muslims in Russia.
The Tsarist Russia was interested not only in the lands of Azerbaijan, but also in the opening of roads to the East. For Russia the annexation of Azerbaijan meant the proximity to the Persian Gulf, Bosporus and Dardanelles. The Armenians, on their side, expected to find a defender in the name of Russian government. In order to achieve their plans of land seizure, the Armenians chose the way of betrayal. These qualities of the Armenians are subjects of history and works of historical figures.
For example, the journalist of the newspaper "Rhythm" during his trip to the Caucasus noted: “Armenian are known as fearful, stupid and indifferent in these territories”. Pushkin confirms it with an expression: “You`re shy, you`re a slave, you`re Armenian”. Corneli, in his works gave the impression that his thoughts are as negative as the Armenians. In 1802, Tsar Alexander I in his letter to Tsitsianov wrote: “You have to enjoy the Armenians to make a complete occupation of Azerbaijan especially Daniel who is the most faithful”.
During the first Russian-Persian war in 1804-1813, in May 1804 the Russian attacked on the khanate of Irevan for the first time. This first invasion met strong resistance. In 1808, the Russians attacked on the khanate for the second time, but although the tower of Irevan was surrounded for two months, the Russians could not reach it. They moved to Nakhchivan and conquered the capital. Among the Russian troops there were many Armenian volunteers. As the result of their assistance a group of Armenians migrated here.
According to the agreement signed between the Russian Empire and Persia on October 12, 1813 Nakhchivan and Irevan remained under the control of the Shah.
Among the khanates of Azerbaijan, only Irevan was partially independent. The governor of Caucasus Yermolov wanted to destroy Irevan and make it the part of the Russian Empire. For that reason he prepared the plan of invasion with the assistance of the Armenians who were living in Irevan. Besides, the generals of Armenian (Madatov, Lazarov, Bebudov) and Georgian (Tsitsianov) origin played a big role in the process of the occupation of the Azerbaijani lands. In February 1827, the Russian troops attacked the khanate of Irevan for the third time; in October the khanate was taken. The 1826-1828 war between Russia and Persia finished with Russia’s victory and on February 10, 1828 the Turkmenchay agreement was signed.
According to the agreement, Irevan, Nakhchivan and Ordubad became the parts of Russia and on March 21, 1828 the Armenian district was created on these territories. According to Article 15 of the agreement, big groups of the Armenians were allowed to resettle from Iran to Azerbaijan. 16 days after the agreement started the process of massive resettlement of the Armenians from Iran to Western Azerbaijan – Irevan, Nakhchivan, Zangezur and Karabakh.
After the victory of Russia in the Russian-Ottoman war of 1828-1829, according to the Adirne agreement of September 2, 1829, the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire were transferred to the Caucasus. It accelerated the process of “armenization” of the region.
Later Shavrov cited that "for two years, in 1828-1830, we moved more than 40,000 Armenians from Iran and 84,600 in Turkey and placed them in the territories of Yelizavetpol (Ganja and Irevan)”.
During this period 200,000 dessiatinas (1 dessiatina= approx. 2 3/4 acres) of state territories and 2 million rubles were spent for the settlement of the Armenians on the lands of the Muslims. Around 1 million of 1,3 million Armenians living currently in the Caucasus are the descendants of the resettled Armenians who originally were living on the territories of the Persian and Ottoman Empires. After the victory of the Russians during the war with the Turks in 1877-1878, this resettlement once again took its speed.
From that day, the tragic genocide of Western Azerbaijanis, as well as the process of the loss of territories accelerated. Only in 1826-1828, over 420 villages were destroyed in the khanate of Irevan. During the occupation of the city, many Azerbaijanis were murdered. In the second half of the XIX century in different parts of Azerbaijan the massacre continued. The Armenians gained “experience” while committing massive carnages of the Azerbaijanis in Zeytun (1862, 1878 and 1884), in Sasun (1880) and in Van (1886). At the same time this period can be characterized with the process of creating Armenian nationalist organizations.
Starting from 1887 a group of Armenians created a “Hichag” party in Geneva aimed at creating independent Armenia on the territory of Eastern Turkey. In 1890 the “Dashnaktsutyun” party of aggressive nationalists was established in Tiflis. This process continued not only in Turkey or Caucasus, but also in different parts of the world, including America. In June 1895 “The Union of Armenian Patriots” was created in New York. All of these organizations had one goal to create “Big Armenia” on the territories of Eastern Turkey, as well as Goycha, Zangezur, Karabakh, Nakhchinvan, Borchali, Akhalsikh and Akhalkala districts of the Caucasus.
After failing in their attempts in Turkey, the Armenians used the unrest in the Tsarist Russia and started the process of expanding the geography of their location in 1905-1907. The first conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia started in Baku, then it exploded in Shusha, Zangezur, Irevan, Nakhchivan, Ordubad, Echmiadzin, Javanshir and Gazakh. Unfortunately, there is not much information left about these massacres of our compatriots in Western Azerbaijan in 1905. In this perspective, the book “The Bloody Years” by M.S.Ordubadi based on the historical documents can be a valuable source of information. The book describes the atrocities of the Armenian nationalists against the Azerbaijani people in Baku, Ganja, Nakhchivan, Karabakh, Gazakh, as well as Zangezur, Goycha and Mehri.
The Armenians and their nationalist “Dashnaktsutyun” party chose terrorism, blackmail and separatism for the seizure of Western Azerbaijani lands and the achievement of their notorious goals at the expense of the sufferings of the Azerbaijanis.
As the result of the similarity of Armenian and Russian plans in the region, the population of local Armenians in Irevan district increased from 14,3 thousands in 1831 to 570 thousands in 1916. At the same time the population of the Azerbaijanis in the district increased only to 246,6 thousands. In addition, while the increment of the Azerbaijani population in 1886-1896 was 40 thousands people, in 1905-1916 this index was 17 thousands people (though it was expected to be 61 thousands). That was the outcome of the united policy of the Tsarist Russian Empire and Armenian Dashnaks in the region. The process of expelling the Azerbaijanis from their homes started in the XIX century and continued until 1990s. Finally, the Armenians could achieve their infamous plan of creating “Armenia without Turks”.
The Armenians intensified their activity during the WWI. The “Armenian National Bureau” created by Dashnaktsutyun party in 1912 started a big campaign on the active participation of the Armenians in the future war on the Russian side. The head of Tiflis Armenian bourgeoisie bishop Mesrop, Khantsov, Zavriyev, Samson Arutyunov and Andronik were the members of the Bureau. Lalayev wrote: “The catholicos of the Armenians Gevork V appealed to the Russian Tsar Nikolai asking him to stop the “sufferings of our brothers” in Turkey and remember about the devotion of Armenian people to the Russian government”.
The Armenians were also very active in the fall of the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic. And again the Azerbaijani people faced massive massacres by the Armenian nationalists in Baku, Shamakhi, Ganja, Zangezur, Karabakh, Nakhchivan, Irevan and other regions. When the Dashnaks came to power, there were 1,2 million of Armenians living there. In two years of the policy of massive carnage this index fell to 770 thousands. In other words the population of Armenians decreased at 35,5%. In comparison, the population of the Turks (Azerbaijanis) living in Armenia decreased at 77%, Yezids at 40% and Kurds at 98%.
After the Sovietization of Armenia on November 29, 1920, in December Russia forcefully added the Azerbaijani territories of Zangezur, Goycha and Daralayaz to Armenia. 20 thousand km2 were added to the original territory of 9 thousand km2. Ironically, not a single Azerbaijani participated in the delegation of “Azerbaijani” representatives who were sent to Armenia in order to solve this territorial dispute. The head of this delegation was ethnically Armenian Dovlatov, while Mikoyan and Laminadze were among the representatives of this group.
In the Bolshevik government in Baku, together with the Russians and Jews, many Armenians, including Sumbatov, Grigoryan, Markaryan, Galstyan and Ohanesyan, participated in the extermination of the Azerbaijani intelligentsia and noblemen. In 1937-1938 around 70-80 thousands Azerbaijanis were destroyed during the repressive measures of the Soviet government. It was a decapitation of the Azerbaijani society.
The years of resettlement in1948-1953
It would be more correct to call these actions a deportation, rather than a resettlement. In 1943 during the conference of the Allies USSR, USA and Great Britain in Tehran the Armenian diaspora took advantage of the opportunity and sent a request to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR Vyacheslav Molotov, asking him to give permission to the Armenian people in Iran to move to the USSR. After speaking with Stalin, Molotov agreed to their resettlement. Harutyunov used this opportunity and could gain the adoption of a decision to move the Azerbaijanis from Armenia by force. Based on the information that was published in the “Golos Armenii” newspaper on November 11, 1990, this decision was based on the correspondence between Mir Jafar Bagirov and Harutyunov dated December 3, 1947. According to this appeal, the Council of Ministers of the USSR signed two decrees. The first was the decree No. 4083 on “massive resettlement of members of collective farms and other Azerbaijani population from the Armenian SSR to the Kur-Araz region of the Azerbaijani SSR” dated December 29, 1947. The decree was signed by Joseph Stalin and was an unexpected blow for Azerbaijan. That was a direct repression. The reason of the deportation of the Azerbaijanis was not mentioned in the decree.
It is worth noting that primarily it was considered that the Azerbaijanis who were living in the mountainous lands in Armenia will be resettled to similar lands in Azerbaijan, e.g. Shusha, Gabala and Sheki. Then suddenly the decision was changed and the Azerbaijanis were resettled to the flat lands of Aran. The reason was the reluctance of Harutyan to allow the increment of population of the Azerbaijanis in Nagorno-Karabakh. He told Stalin that Mirjafar Bagirov brought the resettled people to health resorts instead of making them work in cotton growing regions. After this talk the decision was changed and thousands of people were settled only in cotton growing Aran regions. Not a single of deported Azerbaijanis could settle in Nagorno-Karabakh during these years.
At the time the second tragedy happened to the Azerbaijanis with their return to their homes in Armenia. The president of Soviet of Ministers of Armenia Saak Karpetyan in his telegram dated 29 May 1950 considered the return of Azerbaijani to Armenia in 1948-1950 to be a tragedy for Armenia. In fact it was a real tragedy for the Azerbaijani refugees to come back to their homes in Armenia, as only 40-45% of the Armenian Azerbaijanis that were previously moved to Azerbaijan could return to their homes.
This resettlement was related with the arrival of the Armenians from abroad but the real purpose was to clean Armenia from the Azerbaijanis. During this tragic deportation hundreds of villages inhabited by the Azerbaijanis have become ruins. In January 1975 at the plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Armenia it was announced that 476 villages became uninhabitable.
The main purpose of removal of the Azerbaijanis from Armenia by force was to settle the Armenians from abroad to their territories. This was the result of the eternal wish of Dashnaks to create a mono-ethnic Armenian Republic.
The next step in expelling of the Azerbaijanis from their ancestral territories began in late 1950s. This deportation that lasted until 1988 can also be called an oppression. All the universities, colleges, press organs in Armenia associated with the Azerbaijanis stopped functioning. Four faculties of the Azerbaijani Pedagogical Institute of Yerevan were closed and it was up a group organized with 25 people. The Azerbaijani Language Pedagogical College of Yerevan was closed and moved to the region of Khanlar in the Azerbaijani SSR.
Because of these events, 5,000 young people who have completed the Azerbaijani schools in Armenia left the country to continue their studies in other republics of the USSR, particularly in Azerbaijan.
After completing their studies, they did not return to Armenia, as 99% of them started working and got married in the city where they had educated. And it was a failure for a number of Azerbaijanis who were living in Armenia. The amount of families that were deported from Armenia in the 1950-80s outnumbered the amount of refugee families in 1988. Starting from the beginning of 1960 the Azerbaijanis who held leadership positions in Armenia (except Amasiya area) were replaced with the Armenians. The secretaries of the committees in the regions of Basarkecher, Krasnoselo, Karabaglar, Zengibasar, Vedi (the Azerbaijanis comprised around 75-90% of the population in these regions) were dismissed. On the other hand, in 10 regions of Azerbaijan that were inhabited with other nations, the 2nd and 3rd secretaries were dismissed because they were of Azerbaijani nationality.
Mikoyan obtained a permission from Moscow to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Andronik, the executioner and enemy of the Azerbaijani people. This event took place in 1965, together with the 50th anniversary of "Armenian genocide". That same year on April 23 Mikoyan organized an event with 400,000 people in Yerevan. There were posters, placards with such slogans as "Nagorno-Karabakh is ours", "Nakchivan is the territory of Armenia", "It`s time to take revenge for 1915" These posters were an evident proof that Dashnaks were looking for a cause. "Dashnaktsutyun" which was an illegal organization for years, began its legal activity and cooperation with the Armenian communists, members of the party and government. Right at that time the illegal organizations such as “The Karabakh Committee” and others were legalized. As a result of their propaganda the contradiction between the Azerbaijani and Armenian started to arise.
Starting from 1970-1980s the Soviet empire began to weaken. People no more believed in the utopia of communism. The administrative system that was formed in the country for years was now paralyzed. Corruption, economic downturn that was expanding across the country led to the collapse of the sick empire. General Secretary of Central Committee of the Communist Party Mikhail Gorbachev embraced the policy of reforms and democratization, pluralism and free economy. This policy of reforms has shown that the time of political crisis has come. The Armenians took advantage of this situation and used their connections with their protectors in Moscow and abroad.
At that time the Armenian lobby in Moscow caught Mikhail Gorbachev in their net. And again the Armenians played a role of catalyst in the collapse of the Soviet Union. Although it was Azerbaijan that had to ask for its territories from Armenia, instead the Armenians started the claim for the Azerbaijani territories.
The first demonstration of the "Nagorno-Karabakh Committee" was held in October 1987 in Pushkin Park in Yerevan. The leaders of this committee Igor Muradyan and the future President of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrosyan appealed to the Armenians to an active fight for "getting Karabakh back to Armenia".
The Armenian propagandists-falsifiers presented Azerbaijan in Europe and the USA as a savage and uncivilized nation. Thus they were going to justify their separatist ideas in the future.
On the first stage of their plan on a territorial claim the Armenians were planning to create Armenia free of Turks. On January 25, 1988 hundreds of refugees had to leave by force their homes in ancient Azerbaijani lands of Zangezur, Kafan, Mehri and came to Azerbaijan. On February 21 in Khankendi the Council of People`s Deputies made a decision to separate the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast from the Azerbaijani territory and merge it with Armenia. On February 24, two Azerbaijanis were killed by the Armenians on the road of Khankendi-Agdam. That was an outbreak to the war.
In order to speed up the process of cleaning Armenia from Turks, they generated the events in Sumgait. During this tragedy 26 Armenians and 6 Azerbaijanis were killed. As the result of this collision around 200 thousands of Azerbaijanis had to leave their own lands forcefully.
While reviewing the Soviet Armenian encyclopedia one can see that there were 37 towns in Armenia. In Dilijan region: Dilijan, Ijevan, Krasnoselo; in Echmiadzin region: Aboran, Echmiadzin, Echeterkhan, Tallin, Hoktanberyan; in Zangezur region: Kafan, Gorus, Mehri, Sisyan; in Irevan region: Artashat, Akhta, Vodi, Zengibasar, Kotayk; in Yeni Beyazid region: Basarkecher, Yeni Beyazid, Martuni, Loru; in Pembek region: Allahverdi, Koukarte, Kalinino, Noyanberyan, Spitak, Stepanovan; in Sharur-Daralayaz region: Azizbayov, Yegignazor; in Shorgel-Gumru: Amasya, Akhuryan, Ani, Alyaz, Artic. Until 1988 in 16 of these regions the Azerbaijanis comprised the majority of the population. There were many Azerbaijanis living in other parts of the country too.
According to the statistics, the territory of the 16 regions where the Azerbaijanis lived was 15467 km2. 8000 km2 of this territory was populated only by the Azerbaijanis. Around 176 villages, 131 collective farms, state farms, the property and houses of the Azerbaijanis were left after they were deported. According to the approximate statistics, around 677.850 hectares of fields, 21 560 hectares of vineyards and fruit gardens, 2 km2 of building land, 50,000 hectares of lands used for agriculture belonged to the Azerbaijanis and were left in Armenia.
Thereby the deportation of the Azerbaijanis from Western Azerbaijan (now Armenia) began in 1905-1907 (by the Armenians) and continued in 1918-1920, 1948-1953 and was fully completed in the late 1980s.
For a long time the scientists did not research the history of Western Azerbaijan in Azerbaijani historiography. In the Soviet times many obstacles were created in the study of the history of different nations. In the former republics of the Soviet Union the humanitarian sciences were distorted by the Soviet ideology, the history of many nations was not studied or was presented in a wrong way. For a long time the study of the history of Western Azerbaijan was prohibited. For the Azerbaijani historians the archives that could unveil the facts about the history of Western Azerbaijan were inaccessible. At the same time some little information that was available to our historians was not properly used by them in order to avoid the possible problems with the center. Therefore our historians had to study only the history of the Azerbaijani Republic. This is the reason why we have forgotten the history and culture of the Azerbaijanis who lived outside the Republic. The Armenians who occupied the western territories of Azerbaijan could create a fake history of the region. Indeed the Azerbaijani history was falsified by the Armenians.
As it can be seen from the facts, after the resettlement of the Armenians to the Caucasus, began the tragedy of the local nations as well as the cultural and historical monuments in the region. First of all, the Armenians tried to misappropriate these monuments, but in some cases when it was impossible to do it, they were just destroying them. Many toponyms were changed and armenized. During the years of 1932-1990 the names of around 560 human settlements were armenized. The Armenians were always afraid of these monuments, as well as the real place names, because it could remind the real history of resettlement of the Armenians.
On December 18, 1997 the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev signed a decree on “the deportation of the Azerbaijanis from their ethno-historical territories in Armenian SSR in 1948-1953”. Our historians must do more research to prove the truth that these lands have always belonged to the Azerbaijanis. At the same time we should not be satisfied only by research, but also deliver this information to the international community.