Mass expulsion of Azerbaijanis from their historical lands

Mass expulsion of Azerbaijanis from their historical lands in the territory of today`s Armenia

Mass resettlement of the Armenians from the Ottoman and Iranian territories by Tsarist Russia in the 19th century marked the beginning of oppression of the Azerbaijanis in their own historical lands. A deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing and gen­ocide conducted against the Azerbaijanis in the early 20th century brought our people face to face with many hardships and tragedies. As a result of this plan, the Azerbaijanis were displaced from their historical lands in the territory which is today called Armenia where they lived for thousands of years and were subjected to massacres and genocides, thousands of their historical and cultural monuments and settlements were destroyed.

In 1918-1920, hundreds of thousands of the Azerbaijanis were killed and expelled from their homelands to become refugees, hundreds of Azerbaijani villages were wiped off the face of the earth.

Having taken the advantage of Sovietization of Transcaucasia, the Armenians managed to annex Zangazur and a number of other Azerbaijani lands in Armenian SSR in 1920. They later resorted to new means in order to extend the policy of expulsion of the Azerbaijanis from these areas.

The Armenians achieved the adoption by the USSR Council of Ministers of the Decree “On the resettlement of collective farmers and other Azerbaijani population from the Armenian SSR in the Kur-Araz lowland of Azerbaijan SSR” dated December 23, 1947 and mass expulsion – at the state level – of the Azerbaijanis from their historical lands in 1948-1953. These decisions of the USSR Council of Ministers became another crime against the Azerbaijani people. Under these decisions, more than 150,000 Azerbaijanis were forcibly displaced from their historical lands in Armenian SSR from 1948 to 1953. At the beginning of the century, our fellow countrymen were expelled or exiled from Iravan, which was predominantly populated by the Azerbaijanis, and other regions of Armenian SSR. Their rights were grossly violated and they were harshly repressed.

On December 18, 1997, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev signed the Decree “On mass expulsion of the Azerbaijanis from their historical and ethnic lands in Armenian SSR in 1948-1953”. The Decree said: “The existing repression rules of the authoritarian-totalitarian regime were widely applied in the course of execution of these decisions, which run contrary to regular legal norms, thousands of peoples, including children and the elderly, died unable to endure extremely difficult resettlement, sharp climate changes, physical shock and moral genocide. The then Azerbaijani leadership`s anti-national position, their involvement in the organization and implementation of crimes against our fellow countrymen played a role in this process as much as the criminal policy of the Armenian chauvinistic circles and the USSR leadership.”

Starting from the 1950s, the Armenian nationalists, helped by their patrons, kicked off a moral aggression campaign against the Azerbaijani people. The Armenians changed historical names of Azerbaijani villages and ancient historical toponyms, an unprecedented event in the history of toponymy.

The Armenian nationalists` vicious slander campaign against the Azerbaijani people`s moral values, national pride and consciousness encouraged political and military aggression against the Azerbaijanis. Helped by the Soviet regime, the Armenians reinforced their anti-Azerbaijani campaign in the mid-1980s.

Despite restrictions and expulsion, the areas populated by the Azerbaijanis in Armenia had occupied 25 per cent or a 7,500 sq km area of the entire territory (29,800 sq km) of the Armenian Republic until 1988.

The next wave of expulsion of the Azerbaijanis from their historical and ethnic lands in Armenia took place in 1988-1989 and saw 250,000 people become refugees.

The Azerbaijani people`s protest against this expulsion and against attempts to annex the Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia led to the deployment of the Soviet troops in Baku and mass killings of innocent people in other cities and regions of Azerbaijan in January 1990.

Upon completion of expulsion of the Azerbaijanis from Armenia, the Armenian nationalists embarked on the next stage of genocide and occupied 20 per cent of the Azerbaijani lands.

In his speeches, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly said that today`s Armenia was created in Azerbaijan`s historical lands. “Unfortunately, in 1918 the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic practically presented Iravan to Armenia. All documents are available. One of the first resolutions of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was to transfer Iravan to Armenia as a capital even though Azerbaijanis formed the majority of the Iravan population at that time. It was a huge mistake. This did not protect the young Azerbaijani state from Armenian provocations. Perhaps this was the hope. We could say that we actually lost Iravan then. But we see today that Armenian claims are not becoming any less. They occasionally proclaim various absurd slogans at the highest level, the idea that they have claims to the lands of neighboring countries.”

The head of state said that the Azerbaijanis should not forget their historical lands. “This should be a guide for our future activities, just as we are working in this direction today. Our historical lands are the Iravan Khanate, Zangazur and Goycha. The younger generation and the whole world must know this. I am glad that fundamental research papers are being developed, films produced and exhibitions organized in connection with this issue, the history of our ancestral lands. In the coming years, we should be more active in this direction, exhibitions and presentations should be held in different parts of the world because Iravan is our historical land and we, the Azerbaijanis, must return to these historical lands. This is our political and strategic goal, and we must gradually approach it”.