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Barbaric extermination (1918-1920)

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In 1918-1920, during massive extermination, 565,000 from 575,000 Azeris living the territory of present-day Armenia were either killed or expelled.

After establishment of three sovereign republics in the Caucasus – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, Armenia who was obsessed with idea of creation «Greater Armenia» on the expense of Azerbaijan and Georgia ignored peaceful discussion regarding the contested borders and territories in the international organizations and waged wars with both Azerbaijan and Georgia.

In 1918 territorial claims of the Armenian dashnak government drew the peoples of the Caucasus to the bloody clashes, carnage, brought new waves of refugees. Historical documents inform the organization of bloody pogroms by the Armenian nationalists best of all. That’s why we submit to your attention the historical facts regarding the dashnak brutalities in the territories beginning from Lori-Pambek Shoragel district to the districts of Erivan province and the Zangezur district of Ganja province, where the majority of the population was Azeris.

Armenian dashnak republic was granted the Kars province from the Allies and the Erivan province. This made the territory of Armenia 17,500 sq miles with population 1,510,000 people (795,000-Armenians, 575,000-Azeris, 140,000-other nationalities). Not satisfied with this, dashnaks also raised territorial claims to Akhalkalaki and Borchaly in Georgia and to Karabakh, Nakhichevan and the south of the Ganje province in Azerbaijan.

Attempts to incorporate forcefully these territories to Armenia brought to war with Georgia (December 1918) and to long bloody fight with Azerbaijan. As a result, the population of the contested territories decreased for, at least, 10-30% and a number of settlements were literally swept away from the earth.3

In 1918-1920 during massive extermination 565,000 from 575,000 Azeris living the territory of the present-day Armenia were either killed or expelled. This figure is also confirmed in the book «The population of the Soviet Armenia, 1831-1931» by Z. Korkodyan. Also note, that the massacres of Azeris in Azerbaijan itself, in Baku on March 31, 1918 when in just only three days 12,000 people were killed by joint dashnak-bolshevik troops, or in Shamakhy district, where the number of victims reached 7 thousand in April 1918, or in Kuba district, where the number of villages ruined comprised 122, and other massacres committed by the dashnaks in the rest of Azerbaijan is a subject of distinct detailed discussion.

After dashnaks in 1920 the Turks (Azeris) living in the Soviet Armenia comprised not more than 10,000. In 1922 after 60,000 refugees returned back to their homes Azeris in Armenia comprised 72,596 people.4



Population of Armenia in 1914 1,014,255 Population of Armenia in 1919 961,677
Natural population increase in 1914-19 74,155 Turks (Azeris) remaining in Armenia by 1919 200,000
Emigrants from Turkey 300,000 Population remaining in Kars and Surmali by 1919 59,843
Armenian and Yezidi Kurd population in Surmali 130,753 ?
Overall 1,519,163 1,221,520
Losses 297,643


Population 961,777 Population of Armenia in 1922 782,052
Number of expelled Turks-Azeri as a result of «cleansing» policy of the Dashnak government before 1919 200,000 Losses 429,858
Expelled Azeri Turks in 1920 60,000 Previous losses 297,643
Together 787,501

In another document the national composition is given district by district5. The table below was included in the letter from the Prime-Minister of Azerbaijan to the chairman of the Paris Peace Conference (August 16, 1919) and gives information about the ethnic composition of the Nakhichevan, Sharur-Daralegez, Surmaly and Yerivan ditricts:

Nationality / DistrictNakhichevanSharur-DaralegezSurmaliYerivan
Other nationalities0,8%0,4%1,6%2,4%

As seen from the table, Azeris comprised majority in all the districts. The letter also mentioned that in Vedibasar and Millistan, some parts of the Erivan district transferred to the Armenian state, Azeris comprised 90% of the population.In his September 22, 1920 telegram head of the 28th division Nesterovsky informs the commander-in-chief of the XI Red Army that after carnage organized by the dashnaks, the refugees who managed to escape settled in the Nakhichevan region. Their number reaches 1 million. He also informs that refugees are in very hard situation and live in the open air on the bank of the river Araz.

Everyday about 500 people died, and coming winter and famine could kill them all. Urgent measures were needed. The letters sent to the delegates of the II conference of the Communist Party (CP) of Azerbaijan notified about the danger as well. These letters informed that the number of refugees exceeded 500,000 in the Vedibasar, Zangibasar, Surmaly, Echmiadzin, Sharur, Derelegez districts. Dashnak mauzerists mocked at them during the whole way. Now they are under threat of dying. If state don’t help them urgently, it will be impossible to save them6.

The letter by the administrative department of the People’s Commissars’ Soviet of the Armenian SSR sent on February 21, 1921 to the American aid committee says: By this time 9,450 Azeri refugees have returned to Zangibasar. They are in extremely hard situation: poor-dressed and hungry. It is necessary to create nourishment spots, where they can eat at least once a day. Otherwise, they will hardly survive till summer.

There were also some Armenians who paid attention to establishment of friendly relations between the peoples of the Caucasus, particularly between Azeris and Armenians and who tried to eradicate the consequences of the interethnic hostility between them. Prominent Armenian statesman Myasnikyan wrote to Iran on April 27 1922: «We ask the special commission dealing with this question to inform the Azeri refugees in Iran our request to return to the territory of the Armenian SSR»7.

The letter in reply to the chairman of the People’s Commissars’ Soviet of Armenia A. Myasnikyan sent by the embassy informed: The last train with refugees has been sent after we got consent from Mironov. 900 refugees still remain in Merende and in other regions. Serious problems occurred with the preparation of the documents needed for returning of those refugees who earlier lived in the Erivan province. The deputy commissar of the foreign affairs of the Armenian SSR Artashes Karinyan wrote in his letter sent on July 5 to Baku to the minister of the Foreign Affairs of the Azerbaijan SSR M.D. Huseynov: «With pass given by the representative of trade in Iran Pasha khan Makinsky, the Azeri refugees go en mass to Armenia through Julfa. These refugees are inhabitants of the Zangibasar, Gamarly and other regions. For the purposes of prevention of the spreading and increase of infectious diseases I request you to order the Nakhichevan commissar to stop temporarily this wave of refugees».

In the meantime, everyday groups of refugees arrived to Tabriz from various places of Iran begging to return them to the Motherland.

Source: «Historical geography of the Western Azerbaijan» Baku 1998 (In Russian)

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