Massacres of Azerbaijanis

Massacres of 1905–1906

The turmoil in Russia during the years of 1905–1906 was an opportunity for Armenians to commit mass massacres against peaceful Azerbaijani population living in Baku, Iravan, Yelizavetpol (Ganja) and Tbilisi governorates. Armenian armed groups intended to lay the foundations of “Greater Armenia” by killing and evicting the Azerbaijani population and settling Armenians in these areas located in Iravan-Nakhchivan-Zangezur-Karabakh and Gazakh-Ganja directions. More than 400,000 Armenians (many of them were armed) flocked to the South Caucasus after the suppression of the Armenian uprisings in Türkiye in the 90s of the 19th century. In order to resettle refugee Armenian families, the Armenian church, Armenian political parties, and Armenian intellectuals jointly found a “way out”: expelling Azerbaijanis from their historical-ethnic lands by force of arms and committing mass massacres, settling Armenian families in the vacated territories. The correspondent of “Kaspi” newspaper wrote on the basis of the letters received from Iravan at that time that the Armenians decided to evict all Muslims from Iravan province and settle Armenians from Türkiye in their places. According to the results of the All-Russian census of 1897, of 1301 villages in Iravan governorate, 959 was inhabited by Turks, and Armenians lived in 342 villages. In Iravan uezd, which included the city of Iravan, of 221 villages Turks lived in 151 villages, Armenians lived in 55 villages, 15 villages had a mixed population of Armenians and Turks. Azerbaijani villages surrounded the city of Iravan like a ring. Therefore, the massacres committed by Armenians started in Iravan and spread to the surrounding regions.

At the beginning of February 1905, after Armenians killed an Azerbaijani in the center of the city, mass riots began, which were called “Armenian-Muslim massacres” in the press of that time. The indifference of the administration of Tsarist Russia to the massacres committed by the terrorist armed groups of the Armenian political parties “Dashnaksutyun” and “Hnchak” led to the expansion of the scale of the massacres, and the riots soon spread to the city of Iravan.

According to the information provided by the Armenian author (whose real name is Hovanes Ter-Martirosyan) who published his works under the signature of A-do, the first Armenian-Turkish clash took place in the city of Iravan on February 20-22, 1905. On Sunday, February 20, at 10 o’clock in the morning, Armenians spread a rumor in the city that the Turks are killing Armenians in Gantar (Terezi) square. There was great panic in the city. The Armenians in the market run to the Armenian part of the city, and the Turks run to the Turkish part, and in a few seconds the market was completely empty. After 15 minutes shooting, the dead and wounded were brought to the city hospital one after the other. A little later, the number of dead and injured reached 14.

Massacres continued on February 21-22. According to A-don, 54 people were killed and injured on both sides as a result of the first clash in Iravan. Trade in the city was suspended for 5 days.

The next target of Armenian armed groups was Nakhchivan uezd. Armenian-Muslim massacres in Nakhchivan uezd began on May 5, 1905, when Armenian militants injured three residents of Jahri village near Shikhmahmud settlement. Viceroy of the Caucasus Voronsov-Dashkov sent General Magsud Alikhanov-Avarsky to Nakhchivan to prevent the riots. (M. Alikhanov-Avarsky was the husband of General Huseyn Nakhchivansky’s sister. Therefore, the “Dashnaksutyun” party sentenced Alikhanov-Avarsky to death. Lieutenant-General Alikhanov-Avarsky, the commander of the Second Caucasian Division, was killed by Armenian terrorists Dro, Kamo in Gyumri on July 3, 1907). After receiving a decent response from the Azerbaijanis in Nakhchivan uezd, the Armenians retreated and managed to shift the center of massacres to Sharur-Daraleyaz and Iravan uezds.

As soon as the massacres in Nakhchivan stopped, the Armenians started spreading news that there would be chaos again in Iravan. In order to eliminate the impending danger, the Armenian and Muslim representatives of the city gathered and decided to implement joint measures. With the help of the governorate administration, an executive commission consisting of 22 representatives from both nations was organized. To control the city, the commission divided it into quarters, and several influential Armenians and Muslims were assigned to control each quarter. The city police chief was asked to assist the commission and strengthen security. However, the measures taken were not enough to prevent further massacres in Iravan.

The second massacres that took place in Iravan on May 23-26 were more terrible in terms of scale. Some of the newspapers of that time reported truthfully about the massacres raging in the city of Iravan, especially about the murders and robberies committed by Armenians. According to the news published in the “Qafqaz” newspaper, which was considered a relatively neutral newspaper, 31 people – 9 Armenians, 21 Muslims, 1 Aysor were killed, 24 Armenians, 10 Muslims, 1 Jew and 1 Russian were injured during the first three days of the unrest in Iravan. About the massacres that took place on May 26, the “Kaspi” newspaper, referring to the “Tiflisskiy listok” newspaper, wrote that 24 people were killed and injured from a bomb thrown into the house of a Tatar (Azerbaijani), and in the Tepebaşı neighborhood, where Tatars live,  houses were blown up with bombs and many people died, there were also many casualties in Zangi valley.

Armenian armed groups attacked the Azerbaijani villages surrounding the city of Iravan, burned them and destroyed the majority of their population.

After a three-month break, on September 18, 1905, the third Armenian-Muslim massacres began in Iravan. In a telegram sent from Iravan on September 19, by Prince Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, Governor General of Iravan province (descendant of Bonaparte house), it was stated that on September 18, at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, when 10 Muslims were returning from the city to the village, one of the Armenians opened fire, as a result one Tatar died and one was mortally wounded. Immediately, with the help of the security guard and troops 5 Armenians were arrested. Captured Armenians were brought to the city at 5 o’clock, a group of Armenians and Muslims gathered around them. The cavalry squad was ordered to disperse the crowd, after which the squad was directed towards the market and the boulevard. A mass shooting started when one of the Muslims opened fire, 8 Muslims, 2 Armenians were killed, 3 Muslims, 8 Armenians were injured during the riots.

The Governor-General Napoleon’s resolute prevention of riots did not benefit the Armenians. They tried by all means to remove him from office. Voronsov-Dashkov, the pro-Armenian Viceroy of the Caucasus, released Napoleon from the post of Governor-General some time after the suppression of the third Armenian-Turkish massacres.

At the beginning of October, the situation was tense again. With the participation of the authorized representatives of the city of Iravan, a temporary commission was established for the restoration and protection of peace under the new Governor-General of Iravan province, Count Vladimir Tizenhausen. The members of the commission were authorized to determine the amount of damage caused to the residents who suffered as a result of national enmity, and within two weeks to raise a case before the city authorities for the payment of the damage from the other side. Panah Khan Makinski, Karbalayi Mammad Aliyev, Agha Khan Iravanski, Mir Abbas Mirbabayev, Alakbar Bey Ismayilov, Abbasgulu Bey Hajibeylinski and other famous intellectuals of Iravan were members of the commission.

On February 20, 1906, a peace conference was held in the palace of Voronsov-Dashkov, the Viceroy of the Caucasus, in Tiflis in order to end the Armenian-Muslim clashes. In that conference, which was referred “Armenian-Muslim congress” in the press of that time, the entire delegation of the viceroyalty, the governors of Tiflis, Yelizavetpol and Iravan, 28 representatives of Armenians, 29 representatives of Muslims, two qadis and two bishops participated. The Muslim representatives of the Iravan governorate were  represented by Aga Khan Iravanski, Abbasgulu Bey Hajibeylinski, Prince Shahgulu Mirza.

At that conference, which lasted until March 7, Muslim representatives Ahmad Bey Aghayev, Alimardan Bey Topchubashov, Adil Khan Ziyadkhanov and others exposed the intentions of the “Dashnaksutyun” party as the organizer and executor of massacres and terrorism in the Caucasus, and also the official government circles were observing the actions of this organization, while doing nothing to prevent the atrocities.

As a result of the conference held in Tbilisi, the Armenian-Muslim reconciliation commission was established. However, shortly after the clashes calmed down, the Armenian armed groups started the massacres again. According to the information provided by the Armenian author A-don, the fourth Armenian-Muslim clash took place in the city of Iravan on May 27 and June 8-9, 1906. According to A-Don, the clash began on May 27 at Gantar (Libra) square in Iravan. The shooting was very short. Troops came to restore the order. But the casualties already reached to 36 dead and wounded. Out of the 22 people killed, 13 were Armenians, 7 Turks, 1 Molokan, and 1 Jew. 7 of the 14 wounded were Armenians, 4 were Turks, and the rest were representatives of other nationalities. According to A-don, on June 8, clashes broke out again in Iravan, but they were quickly quelled thanks to the decisive measures taken by the troops. In this clash, 10 people were killed on both sides. 5 Turks, 3 Armenians, 1 Kurd, and 1 Jew were among those killed. Of the 19 wounded, 13 were Turks and 6 were Armenians. The morning of June 9 began with heavy shooting, but there were no casualties.

M.S. Ordubadi characterized the genocide committed by Armenians in 1905, in the territory of present Armenia as follows: “Iravan district turned into a fiery mountain, a volcano suffocating the noble Islamic nation…”

Only after the emergence of the “Difai” party in Ganja and the counter-actions of its local branches against the Armenian terrorists, the massacres ended.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the number of the Azerbaijani population in the city of Iravan was approximately equal to the number of the Armenian population (12.5 thousand people). However, in 1905–1906, after the mass massacres committed by Armenians in Iracan, the ethnic composition of the population changed in favor of Armenians. The migration of some wealthy Azerbaijanis from Iravan significantly weakened the position of Azerbaijanis in the city.

The results of the research show that in 1905–1906, Armenian formations numbering more than ten thousand armed men commited massacres against Azerbaijanis in Baku, Iravan and its surrounding villages, Etchmiadzin (Uchkilsa), Sharur-Daralayaz and Nakhchivan uezds, Gorus, Gapan (Gafan) and Garakilsa (Sisyan) districts of Zangezur uezd of Yelizavetpol (Ganja) governorate, Shusha, Javanshire, Jabrayil, Gazakh uezds, Tiflis city and Borchali, and destroyed more than 200 settlements.

Genocide of 1918–1920

In the course of the First World War, there were 150,000 Armenian soldiers during the Russian army’s attack on Eastern Anatolia. Moreover, 4 Armenian druzhinas, which included approximately 10,000 volunteers, joined the Russian troops from South Azerbaijan (through Khoy, Urmia, Selmas provinces) and Kars province with the blessing of Etchmiadzin church. Taking advantage of the opportunity, the Armenian militants destroyed the Azerbaijani and Turkish villages on the roads they crossed and massacred their population.

In November 1917, as a result of the coup d’état in Russia, Russian troops withdrew from Eastern Anatolia and handed over the weapons and ammunition to the Armenian commanders, with the help of which the Armenians expanded the scale of massacres. From February 1918, the Turkish troops launched a counterattack and cleared the Armenian troops from Eastern Anatolia.

After the failure of the Armenians and their protectors to create an independent Armenian state in Eastern Anatolia during the First World War, the idea of creating an Armenian state in Iravan governorate and its adjacent territories came to the agenda.

The retreating Armenian army under the command of Andranik, Hamazasp, Dron, and Njdeh carried out a real genocide against Muslims in first Erzurum and Kars provinces, and then in Iravan and Zangezur. During the Russian occupation of Eastern Anatolia, the Armenians who participated in the massacres also flocked to the South Caucasus together with the Armenian troops. At that time, most of the 350,000 Armenians who came from Türkiye settled in Iravan governorate, and as a result, the situation of Azerbaijanis became even worse.

Until March 1918, Armenian armed groups destroyed 32 villages in Iravan uezd, 84 in Echimadzin uezd, 7 in Novo-Bayazid uezd, and 75 villages in Surmeli uezd – a total of 198 villages.

In March 1918, the refugee department of the Muslim faction under the South Caucasian (Transcaucasia) Seim was established to deal with the problem of the refugees from Iravan province. The Muslim faction raised the issue before the Seim government, consequently, a delegation was sent to stop the massacres against Muslims in the Iravan governorate, and the results of the investigations were discussed at the Seim session, although the situation of the refugees was alleviated to some extent, it was not possible to stop the massacres completely.

A branch of the Baku Muslim Charitable Society was established in Iravan to help Muslims living in Iravan governorate.

The first stage of the mass killings of Azerbaijanis in Iravan governorate coincided with the eve of the establishment of an independent Armenian state in the territory of Azerbaijan. On May 26, 1918, the South Caucasus Seim dissolved itself and declared the independence of Georgia. At the meeting of the Muslim National Council held on May 27, Nasib Bey Yusifbeyov stated that the opinion of the Turkish delegation represented at the Batumi Conference is that the South Caucasus should protect its independence, and in order to protect its unity and solidarity, Armenians should be given some land.

On May 28, 1918, the independence of Azerbaijan and Armenia was declared. On May 29, at the meeting of the Muslim National Council, a decision was made on the concession of Iravan to Armenia as a political center. Members of the National Council from Iravan immediately expressed their objection to this compromise. However, the decision was made with the consent of 16 of the 28 members of the National Council, three abstentions and one dissenting vote. At the meeting of the National Council held on June 1, the members of the Council from Iravan, Mir Hidayat Seyidov, Bagir Rizayev and Nariman Bey Narimanbeyov, expressed their written objection to the decision on the concession of Iravan to Armenia, but there was no result.

In May 1918, the Turkish troops, who were pursuing the Armenian armed groups committing massacres against the Turks in Eastern Anatolia, cleared the cities of Gyumri and Boyuk Garakilsa from Armenian atrocities. Although the Turkish army reached the Ulukhanli station, which was 7 kilometers from the city of Iravan, it moved in the direction of Nakhchivan without entering the city. According to the peace and friendship agreement signed between Türkiye and Armenia in Batumi on June 4, the territory of the Republic of Armenia was approximately 10,000 square kilometers, and the population was 321,000 people (including 230,000 Armenians, 80,000 Muslims, 5,000 Yezidi Kurds, 6,000 other nations). The territory of this republic included Novo-Bayazid uezd, three-fifths of Iravan uezd, a quarter of Etchmiadzin uezd, and a quarter of Alexandropol uezd.

At the meeting of the National Council held on June 13, news of massacres commited by Armenians against Muslims in Iravan was discussed. It is reported that the number of displaced refugees had reached 150,000, and Armenians had destroyed 206 villages. The National Council decided to send a representative to provide financial assistance to the refugees in Iravan province. Also, the council requested the command of the Turkish troops in the territory of Iravan governorate to provide food aid to the refugees and force the Armenian government to authorize the return of Azerbaijanis to their homeland.

The capture of Zangezur by the Armenian armed forces under Andranik’s command and the Armenian government’s consideration of Nagorno-Karabakh as a disputed territory prompted Azerbaijani diplomacy to take adequate steps. Azerbaijan’s diplomatic representative in Georgia stated in his letter to Armenia’s representative in Georgia that Armenia’s claim to consider Karabakh as a disputed zone was a violation of the agreement reached between the parties, and that Azerbaijan reserved the right of territorial claim to the city of Iravan, part of Echmiadzin, Novo-Beyazid and Iravan uezds of Iravan governorate.

According to the Mudros agreement signed on October 30, 1918, after the withdrawal of the Turkish troops from the South Caucasus, the second stage of mass looting of Armenians against Azerbaijanis in the territory of Iravan governorate began. At the end of December, the government of Azerbaijan appointed Mohammad Khan Tekinski its diplomatic representative in Armenia. Before the diplomatic representation of Azerbaijan in Iravan began to operate, international organizations, Azerbaijani press and official circles were informed about the atrocities committed by Armenians in the territory of Iravan governorate by Muslim National Council of Iravan, the Iravan Muslim Charitable Society and the Iravan Governorate Compatriots’ Organization.

In the information sent by Teymur Khan Makinsky, the Chairman of the Iravan Governorate Compatriots’ Organization on January 4, 1919, it was stated that from December 1917 to June 1918, until the arrival of Turkish troops, in Iravan Governorate, Armenian military units destroyed, looted, burned more than 200 Muslim settlements, some of the population was killed, and some fled to the mountains and perished from hunger and cold. According to his information, the Armenian armed groups had seized the entire Surmeli uezd and a part of Iravan, Etchmiadzin, Sharur-Daraleyaz uezds and were moving in the direction of Nakhchivan. Innocent Muslim population was either exterminated or expelled from their villages and were forced to flee to Iran through mountain roads. Teymur Khan Makinsky wrote that Armenian refugees from Türkiye settled in forcibly evacuated Muslim villages.

On January 4, 1919, the petition addressed to the speaker of the parliament signed by the members of the parliament, Teymur Khan Makinsky, Maharram Maharramov, Akbaraga Sheikhulislamov and a group of intellectuals of the Iravan province, stated that 500,000 Muslim residents of Iravan governorate considered themselves an integral part of Azerbaijan, and they wished that the Armenians would not disturb their peaceful life until their fate was resolved at the Paris Peace Conference. After enumerating the scale of the massacres committed by the Armenian troops, the parliament was asked to take necessary measures to protect the Muslims of Iravan.

In January 1919, on behalf of the representatives of the Muslim population of the Iravan province, Mir Hidayat Seyidov’s address to the head of the Azerbaijani government stated that the Armenian government resettled the Armenian refugees in the Muslim villages which were forcefully emptied. The goal was to exterminate Muslims as much as possible and clear them of all uezds so that they could prove that those territories belonged to Armenians at the Paris Peace Conference.

The pro-Armenian position of General A. Thomson, the commander of the Allies’ troops in the South Caucasus, encouraged Armenians to seize new territories. On May 28, 1919, the Armenian Parliament adopted an act on the establishment of the “United Armenia” state by annexing 6 provinces of Türkiye to Armenia. Territories of Azerbaijan claimed by the Armenian government were also included in “United Armenia”.

On June 4, 1919, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, A. Ziyadkhanov, in a letter sent to the diplomatic representative in Armenia, M. Takinsky, stated that an Extraordinary Parliamentary Commission would be established and instructed him to collect information for that Commission about the massacres committed by Armenians in the Iravan governorate. The government of Azerbaijan was intensively communicating with the relevant institutions of Armenia in order to stop the massacres against Azerbaijanis in the territory of Iravan governorate. The Armenian government continued its policy of oppression while continuing the diplomatic correspondence. Archive documents prove that Armenians did not stop killing and looting against Azerbaijanis in Iravan governorate even for a single day.

In the article “The situation of Muslims in Armenia” published on June 29-July 1, 1919, the “Azerbaijan” (in Russian) newspaper wrote about the tragic situation of the Azerbaijani population of Iravan: “The situation of Muslims in the Republic of Armenia is tragic. Most of the beautiful houses and gardens in Iravan belonged to Muslims… When the Turkish troops approached Iravan, the Muslim population of the city was afraid for some reason and left the city. Armenian refugees from Türkiye took possession of their property. On the way back to the city, the Muslims who accepted the Armenian government were completely robbed by the Armenian armed forces… Since the Armenian refugees did not let the Muslims with rich gardens and beautiful houses back into their homes, since winter they had been living in the mosques… The Armenian government compels thousands of robbed, hungry and sick Muslims to live without roofs over their heads…

It is difficult to describe the agony suffered by Muslims. Many people do not tolerate this and go crazy… Armenians, return the houses to the rightful owners after receiving a large amount of ransom.

The Armenian government deliberately resettles Armenian refugees in Muslim neighborhoods and homes…”

“Azerbaijan” newspaper (in Russian) wrote in the article “Iravan and Karabakh” on July 9, 1919: “Crimes committed by the Dashnaks against the Muslim population in the Iravan governorate went unpunished and are not known to the public or the press. In March 1918, all the Muslim villages of Surmeli uezd of Iravan province were destroyed and burned by the Dashnaks, who declared their goal “death to all Muslims”. The inhabitants of the uezd were killed. Almost the entire population of the villages of Guluna, Yayci, Oba, Qazigishlaq, and Amarat was massacred. 6,000 people who were saved by a miracle gathered in the village of Diza to cross the Araz river and arrive to the Iravan uezd. Armenian troops surrounded this village and slaughtered the population. They poured the blood of the unfortunate victims into the pool of the mosque… Nothing is left  from the Surmeli uezd…”

The situation of the Muslims in other uezds – Novo-Bayazid, Etchmiadzin and Iravan – was more deplorable. In these accidents, massacres were carried out more inhumanely. A real war was fought in bayonet charges and bombardment. Only Sharur and Nakhchivan were saved due to the capture of the “Wolf Gate” thanks to the heroic sons who could prevent the attacks of the Armenians… The situation of Iravan and the Muslim population, who moved to Kars en masse after the accidents, became worse. They (Azerbaijanis) were forced to seek shelter in the Anatolian mountains. It seems that the scale of the horrors inflicted on the Muslim population in Iravan governorate seemed to be insignificant for the Armenians. With help from abroad, the Dashnaks were trying to recreate the Iravan tragedy in Karabakh as well.

It would be interesting to compare the situation of Armenians in Azerbaijan with the situation of Muslims in Iravan. “Armenians are full-fledged citizens in our republic. They enjoy all civil liberties, they are represented in the parliament and the government, the state spends a lot of money on the education of their children, no one touches them, they do not seek refuge in other governorates. Some of the Muslims of Iravan have been massacred, some have been scattered, and they cannot find shelter anywhere.” This article clearly expressed the difference between Armenians living in Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis living in the Republic of Armenia.

At its session on July 17, 1919, the Parliament of Azerbaijan discussed the issue of the situation of refugees from Zangezur uezd and Iravan governorate. Bagir Bey Rizayev said that 22,000 Muslims lived in Iravan a year ago, and most of them left the city, and recently they saw their houses and belongings destroyed. He stated that the Armenian government did not help the Muslim refugees. Garabey Garabeyov stated: “Grain was brought to the hungry Armenians by the Armenian government and the American delegation. But all the Muslims there are hungry and go from door to door without clothes. Their situation is much worse… It is impossible for Muslims to live like this in Armenia… Muslims were forced out of their villages. Iravan is full of hungry people. They ask (from charitable organizations) for return to their villages and express their readiness to  survive on grass and hay. But they are not allowed to return to their villages, they are told that if there are 45 houses in the village, all are occupied by  Armenians, and Muslims are not welcomed. In sum, according to official reports, Armenians commit atrocities against Muslims. They did it before. They removed and destroyed the gravestones. The doors and windows of the mosques were taken away. They blew up the roof and committed atrocities there.” Sultan Majid Ganizade in his statement about the true face of the Armenian government expressed that: “They are slaughtering and killing our brothers there. Their goal is not to leave a single Muslim alive. To force the muslims to leave their ancestral lands…”

The representative of the Ministry of Protection of Azerbaijan in Armenia, Teymur Khan Makinsky, sent a report to the Ministry of Protection on November 11, 1919, and revealed the true face of the Armenian government: “As a result of the massacres that continued since February 1918, half million people became beggars. (Except from Nakhchivan, Sharur uezds, 2-3 police areas of Surmeli uezd and Zangibasar district). The Muslim population in those areas lost everything. The population of the destroyed regions is more than 200,000 people. They perished from disease and hunger, they were repeatedly looted and massacred. Muslims of Iravan city, Goykumbat, Arbat, Aghcagishlaq and Charbakh villages of Zangibasar belong to this category. It can be said with certainty that the number of dead is 100-120 thousand people. 50 thousand people came to Azerbaijan as refugees. Almost as many live in Iravan, Zangibasar uezds, 2 settlements of Surmeli and Etchmiadzin uezds. The rest of the refugees fled to Nakhchivan uezd, Sharur uezd, 3rd area of Surmeli uezd and Gagizman district of Kars province. Some of them took refugee at Maku Khanate and at the territory of Türkiye. Currently, food aid (in the form of flour, grain and bread) should be provided to 50,000 people. The number of people who are starving in Iravan is 8,000 people.”

On December 20, 1919, in Tiflis, based on the statements of refugees from Iravan and Kars provinces, it was noted in the protocol that on the other bank of the Aras and Tarasum rivers, 50 thousand refugees,whose property was looted and destroyed, had gathered in a safer place, 17 versts from the Ulukhanli station. In addition, it was mentioned in the protocol that 14 employees worked at the disposal of Azerbaijan’s representative office in Iravan, and their duty was to protect the refugees in Iravan and send them to Azerbaijan, but the refugees who were more than 20 versts away from Iravan were left on their own.

At the session of the Parliament of Azerbaijan held on January 5, 1920, the issue of refugees was discussed, and it was noted that 300 thousand refugees came from Armenia.

Mir Mahmud Mirbabayev, employee of Azerbaijan’s diplomatic mission in Armenia, in his confidential letter sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan on January 25, 1920, indicated that the situation of Muslims in the city of Iravan was miserable: there were no Muslim shops, houses were destroyed, safety of the lives was not guaranteed.

After the Bolsheviks seized power in Azerbaijan in April 1920, the massacres committed by the Dashnak government against Azerbaijanis entered a new stage and became more massive and severe.

In 1919, 14,000 people died of hunger in the city of Iravan, which had a population of 29,000, and within 6 months, 4,000 people died of starvation in Etchmiadzin uezd. As Azerbaijanis’ lifes were in danger because of their ethnic identities, they could not leave their homes and were subjected to starvation. However, at that time, the American Aid Committee to Armenia was operating under the chairmanship of Dr. Yarrow in Armenia.

The main reasons why some Azerbaijanis escaped the Armenian massacres in the city of Iravan were their compact settlement (in the Demirbulag, Tepebashi, Gala city and Old parts of the city), and the activities of the representatives of the diplomatic mission of Azerbaijan, the Ministry of Protection of Azerbaijan, and the Baku Muslim Charitable Society operating in Iravan. Since there was no such control in districts, Armenian armed groups carried out murders and robberies against Azerbaijanis as they wished.

In general, in 1918–1920, Armenian armed groups destroyed 58 settlements in Shamakhi uezd, 112 in Guba uezd, 323 in Ganja province (including 166 in Zangezur, 157 in Karabakh), 300 in Iravan province, 82 in Kars province, hundreds of thousands Azerbaijanis were murdered, nearly one million people were displaced from their historical-ethnic lands. In general, in the years 1905–1920, more than 500 Azerbaijani villages were destroyed only in the territory of present-day Armenia, and the vast majority of them became Armenian settlements.

In 1916, 373,582 Azerbaijanis lived in the Iravan governorate, while in November 1920, only 12,000 Azerbaijanis were registered in the Armenian SSR.

After the establishment of Soviet power in Armenia, a small number of Azerbaijanis were able to return to their homes. In 1922, a total of 5124 Azerbaijanis lived in Iravan, while the number of Armenians reached 40396. In other words, in 1918–1920, the number of Azerbaijanis decreased by 2.5 times, while the number of Armenians increased by approximately 4 times.

There are enough facts in the archives and in the press of that time to come to the conclusion that during the years of 1918–1920, genocide was committed against Azerbaijanis in Armenia.

On March 26, 1998, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan signed a decree “On the Genocide of Azerbaijanis in order to give a legal and political assessment to the genocide and deportation actions committed by Armenians against Azerbaijanis in the 19th and 20th centuries and March 31 was declared the Genocide Day of Azerbaijanis in order to commemorate all the genocide tragedies.

Nazim Mustafa
Doctor of philosophy in history, recipient of the State Prize