Genocide 2018: mass killings of civilians in peaceful time
March 31 marks a century since tragic events of 1918 happened in Baku and the Baku province - the Day of Genocide of Azerbaijanis. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's decree on events dedicated to this date says that at various stages of history, Armenian nationalists carried out ethnic cleansing, deportations and genocide in order to realize mythical idea of the "Great Armenia". One of the most monstrous tragedies committed against the Azerbaijani people were massacres, committed with extreme cruelty 100 years ago - in March-April of 1918 by Dashnak-Bolshevik armed units, acting under the mandate of the Baku Council.
As scientific secretary of the National Museum of History of Azerbaijan Farhad Jabbarov explained, the March 1918 genocide in Azerbaijan was carried out against Muslims and Azerbaijanis. Jabbarov quoted the statement of main initiator and organizer of the 1918 genocide, chairman of the Baku Council, Stepan Shaumyan, which he made immediately after tragic events in Baku, on April 13: "Ethnic composition of the city frightened us. Although a lot of poor and homeless Muslims suffered as a result of the civil war, the victory is so great it doesn't make reality worse."
"This was his way of admitting this crime," Jabbarov said, referring to Shaumyan's article published after the March events, in which he states that if Muslims won in Baku, they would turn this city into the capital of Azerbaijan, which couldn't be tolerated."
Based on this, historian concludes that Azerbaijanis were "guilty" only because they were striving for autonomy: "It's paradoxical because after the October 1917 events, Bolsheviks - and Stepan Shaumyan associated himself with them - didn't deny the right of nation to self-determination, and at that time the Musavat partyat approached this issue from the same positions as Bolsheviks - they wanted to create democratic, federal republic, in which Azerbaijanis would live in an autonomy. But Shaumyan didn't want to recognize even this right."
Farhad Jabbarov urged to view the events of March 1918 in the context of terror, which was unleashed in the late 19th - early 20th century by the Dashnaktsutyun nationalist party. "The first victims of the Dashnaks' terror in the South Caucasus were not Azerbaijanis or Muslims, their first victim was Russia. When the government of the Russian Empire saw that the Dashnaktsutyun party violated basic principle of statehood through its activities, religious schools were full of separatist sentiments, and the Armenian-Gregorian church became main stronghold of nationalist and separatist movement, it began to take measures to limit this separatism. In 1903, Emperor Nicholas II issued a decree on transferring property of the Armenian church under state control. Unfortunately, now we often hear that property of the Armenian church was confiscated, but this was no confiscation - it was still property of the Armenian church, but revenues from this property, from these capitals, were under control of the government. This step was taken precisely because before 1903, the church financed terrorism in the territory of the Ottoman Empire, and the government of the Russian Empire had to put an end to this situation."
According to Jabbarov, "after the imperial decree of 1903 was signed, riots began in cities of the South Caucasus with mostly Armenian population. There were clashes with the police and the army, and later these riots turned into terror. Russian officials, who carried out secularization of church property, as well as police officers became victims of the Dashnaks' terror in the South Caucasus. Attempted assasination of the prince Golitsyn was a culmination of this terror. As a result of it, he was seriously wounded and could no longer carry out his duties. Then this terror affected Muslim population. There are documentary evidences that the Dashnaktsutyun party has repeatedly asked Muslim population to join its anti-government activities. However, Muslims refused. After that, accusing Azerbaijanis of being pro-government, of refusing to participate in revolutionary, radical actions, the Dashnaks started to attack not only the government of the Russian Empire, but also peaceful Muslim population."
"Now that many of the archives, including Russian ones, are available, it's no longer a secret that in 1904-1905, the Dashnaktsutyun party actively cooperated with Japanese and British intelligence services. A conference was held in Paris where the Dashnaktsutyun party participated as representative of the South Caucasus. Japan actively financed its activities so that it would carry out terrorist acts in the South Caucasus against the Russian Empire. Archival documents openly say that these acts were entrusted to the Dashnaks, since they already did it in the Ottoman Empire.
Bloody events of 1905-1906 in the Russian Empire also affected the Caucasus, where first Armenian-Muslim clashes took place. Now they are called the Armenian-Azerbaijani massacre.
In February of 1905, Illarion Ivanovich Vorontsov-Dashkov was appointed the Governor General of the Caucasus Viceroyalty. During the rise of revolutionary movement in the Caucasus he took a number of harsh measures to suppress it. At the same time, the tsarist government gradually began to soften its policy on the Armenian issue and began to return property privileges. However, they organized a trial against the Dashnaks, but there was no complete ban on activities of this party. Although it became illegal, this party continued its activities. Since it wasn't punished, in 1917-1918 its armed units that participated in the First World War moved to Baku after the collapse of the Caucasus Front and were used by Shaumyan to massacre Azerbaijani population," Farhad Jabbarov said.
According to him, in Soviet era, those events were treated like a part of the civil war: "Special literature and textbooks presented these events as fight between Bolsheviks against the Musavat party, which wanted to separate Azerbaijan from Russia. Even if it was true, it could only happen in Baku, where this party had huge influence. But there was no civil war in Shusha, Guba, Karabakh, Zangezur, Nakhichevan. Those were basically mass killings of civilians in peaceful time. Baku and other cities weren't a part of the combat zone, and peaceful Muslim population of other cities was subjected to terror and genocide.
Documents that decribe events of 1918 can't be read without sorrow. They include absolutely impartial testimonies of both Azerbaijanis and Russians, Jews, Poles, Germans about how children, old people, women were subjected to violence. Unfortunately, this chain of events, which began with terror of 1905, continued with genocide of 1918, and continues to this day. 20th century is one of the most tragic pages in the history of Azerbaijan. In 1948 and 1953, Azerbaijanis survived mass deportation from the territory of the Armenian SSR. This deportation happened under pretext that Armenians living abroad wanted to return to their historical homeland, and it was necessary to deport aroung 100000 Azerbaijanis from the Armenian SSR for this. Azerbaijanis experienced the last wave of terror and violence of the 20th century during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and events in Khojaly in 1992."
Jabbarov also spoke about heroization of nationalists in modern Armenia. This topic made headlines after monument to Garegin Nzhdeh was erected in Yerevan. He's considered to be an accomplice of Nazi Germany in Russia, who hoped to restore Armenia's independence from the Soviet Union with the help of fascists: "This isn't the only example. Similar heroization of terrorists can be seen when it comes to those who participated in the events of 1905-1918, in assassination attempt of 1902, in attacks on peaceful Muslim population in Baku in 1905. Right now there's a museum dedicated to such heroes in the occupied territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. It's a frightening tendency, and it's our duty to inform everyone about these facts before the international community forgets about them, because if such events will be forgotten then they may be repeated. After forgetting 1905, we lived through 1918, after forgetting 1918, we lived through 1988 and 1992."