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Pogroms of the Azeri villages in 1905

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Chronicle of some massacres of the Azeri villages in Zangezur in exposition of Mammad Said Ordubadi, a prominent Azeri writer of the time.

On June 9, 1905 Armenians attacked the Azeri village of Takiya (of Echmiadzin district). Unlike their enemies Azeris were completely unarmed. That’s why, people took their wives and children left the village and run to the mountains. After this attack Armenians destroyed another 9 big Azeri villages in the Echmiadzin district and the czarist government took no measures to prevent these actions.

On July 29, 1906 Armenians attacked the village of Karkhana in Kafan. The village was under fire from all sides. Unarmed population tried to leave the village under the fire from the Armenian side, which numbered 5000 people. Thus, many of them were captured and most were shot in the place. The village was demolished, but it was not enough.

The Armenian bandits also found 30 women hidden in a shelter and brutally killed them all. The reason for the detection and killing of the poor women was an innocent little child named Firuza. Her mother pressed tightly Firuza to herself, in order to suppress weeping of the child, who was frightened because of the gunfire. But the kid trying to escape from suffocation suddenly raised her head and cried. Having heard her wails, the Armenians rushed to the women and brutally killed them.

The same day the Armenian bands demolished the villages of Khalaj, Saldashly, Injevan, Dashnov and dealt severely with the population. Those who escaped found refuge in the village of Gatar.

But on August 1, well-armed Armenian bands surrounded the village of Gatar. The praises of the Russian officers addressed to the Armenians, who surrounded Gatar remind the present-day events in Karabakh. A Lezgin soldier, who was terrified with the Armenian atrocities, begged the Russian officer Sakharov to call the near located Russian troops to help. Sakharov, who observed this scene with satisfaction replied not paying any attention to him: «Don’t you see how accurately Armenians fire. Well done!»

Even though Armenians surrounded the village, they didn’t want to risk attacking not knowing how well the villagers are armed. That’s why, in order to learn how strong the villagers are Armenians agreed with Sakharov, who sent 50 Russian Kazaks to the village. Having entered the village and having seen that most people in there were armed the Kazaks deceived the villagers saying: «You sit home calmly, and don’t respond to the Armenian fire. Certainly, afterwards the government itself will punish them after investigation.» This was a dangerous trap.

The Armenian bands encircled the village, so the population didn’t expect any help from outside. Fighting continued. Armenian bandits numbered 8 thousand. Despite nine days of ferocious battle Armenians couldn’t seize the village. Being in a desperate situation, Gatar people managed to send a rider to Zangilan situated in 30-35 km to the south for help. But after they got reply that they shouldn’t expect help, the villagers lost their last hope.
There are also facts that a group of Iranian workers, who worked in the copper mines of an Armenian capitalist Melik Azaryants, have also played a treacherous role in the defeat of the Gatar villagers. Once, having seen how they carry oil and dynamite to the village exclaiming «Ya Ali!» the villagers thought that these were other Moslems who brought them supplies. But these ruthless people carried out the order of Armenians. Having entered the village they poured the oil onto the houses, burned them and exploded with dynamite.

And even though the village of Gatar was demolished and completely burned people didn’t leave it. Only in the evening when it became dark and Armenians retreated, the villagers, who understood that it was impossible to stay in here, run to the Azeri village of Giratag situated 10 km to the north.

After the Armenian nationalists demolished the village of Gatar, where lived 3500 people in 750 houses, they began to rob and destroy the Azeri villages situated in the bank of the river Okchu, and among them Okchu, Shabadin, Aralik, Pirdavdan and Atkiz, which were considered the key to the Zangezur district.

Having received strong military support from Aleksandropol (Gumry), Erivan, Abaran and Shoragel districts, local dashnaks (Armenian nationalists) gathered in the Armenian villages of Panisly and Kurdukan, which were located near the village of Okchu. On August 9, 1906 well-armed dashnak units attacked and ruined all five Azeri villages mentioned above. Armenian dashnaks didn’t care weather it was an old man, a child, or a woman and killed part of the population of these villages with sabers. On August 13, those who escaped running from these villages found refuge behind the rocks of the village Sakkarsu that was situated on the upper road from the village of Pirdavdan.

The world history knows few precedents similar to the violence against peaceful Azeri population of Sakkarsu on the hands of the Armenian nationalists. Below is the historical events narrated by the famous Azeri writer Ordubadi in his book «Bloody Years», which can be considered a historical document of the time due to the reasons explained above. We give you his description of the events only as summary:
Sounds of weeping came from all over rocky peaks. Only feeble people and old women were left in the village [Sakkarsu].

In the morning having seen people moving forward to the village and exclaiming «Ya Ali! Ya Ali!» the poor Sakkarsu people thought that it was the Moslems, who came to save them. They run to them crying. But it was a trap. Those people were Armenian dashnaks, who began to kill peaceful Azeris. Few people escaped running from Sakkarsu and from other neighbouring four villages to the Azeri town of Ordubad?

The Ordubad people met the refugees with care and compassion. Soon people from Ordubad and from the surrounding villages organized an armed expedition to help those who couldn’t reach Ordubad and were left in the mountains. On August 16, 1906 the expedition moved to the mountains. First the expedition moved to Sakkarsu. Despite gloomy weather they began to investigate the area. They found several pits, filled with blood. Because of strong frost these pits were covered with ice. Amidst the stones there were found 62 corps of women and children stacked one on the other. But among these corps people also found a woman without consciousness heavily wounded in both legs. Since she got heavily wounded she was sent not to Ordubad but to the nearest village Pazmeri.

On August 18 the expedition entered the forest where people were hiding. Soon they found corps of 25-year old man and woman. As the guide explained, they were husband and wife killed by Armenians. Further the expedition came up to the place, where the village churchwarden Molla Hasan Effendi was killed. His body, mat for praying and other holy objects were burned. There was seen a part of a rug a bit to the north from that place where Molla Effendi was killed. Everyone cried, because having removed it, they saw cut-off heads of 15 babies whose faces seemed alive and bodies were lying in disorder.

To the south there were enormous number of corps of women and children whose heads were also cut off. Since it was impossible to dig graves in the mountains all the victims were buried in the forest covered with leaves and branches from the trees.

History repeats indeed. Unimaginable brutalities committed by the Armenians in 1905, repeated beginning from 1828 to 1920 and in 1988. Famous writer Ordubadi saw the reasons of all these tragedies in the following:

First reason: Establishment of despotic methods of administration by the Armenian nationalistic party «Dashnaksutiun».

Second reason: Negligence of the local state bureaucrats against their duties during the war years. Since, during the first Russian Revolution the central power was busy dealing with its own problems, the local bureaucrats oftentimes acted arbitrarily and did nothing to prevent Armenian-Azeri clashes.

Third reason: Low literacy rate of the early 20th century Azeris, their unawareness about the contemporary events and issues, ignorance of science and politics led to incomprehension of the position of the local bureaucrats and how Armenians used all of these for their own purposes. The reason why the Armenian-Azeri clashes continued so long was, on one hand ignorance of Azeris and on the other hand their unarmed situation and lack of information about contemporary events.

Fourth reason: Is considered to be the aspiration of Armenians to establish autonomy. This last point doesn’t need additional proofs, as the declarations made by the Armenians during their monthly visits to London, Paris and the US are the most convincing arguments.

Researches demonstrate that not only reasons and problems of the Armenian-Azeri conflicts, but also methods, which are used during these conflicts, as well as the scenarios, are very similar to one another.

Source: M.S. Ordubadi, «Years of Blood» (1911)

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