For nearly a century, Armenian ideologists and their supporters have been trying to convince the world that a massacre was committed against “piteous” Armenian people in the territories of Ottoman Empire at the state level in 1915.
Until the collapse of the USSR, this propaganda was directed at the Republic of Turkey and indirectly Turkish-Muslim world was blamed on this issue. Tsarist Russia’s hatred of the Ottoman State was continued in the policy and propaganda of the USSR. Thus, in 1960s of 20th century, this falsified propaganda spread widely.
Actually, who was subjected to genocide?
During his meeting with the Armenian leaders in Erzurum, Enver Pasha, head of the Ottoman Third Army on the eve of World War I, ascertained that in case if the war began, Armenians would not defend the Ottoman State. Since the Tsarist Russia had promised to establish in the future the Armenian Autonomous State in the territories of Ottoman State, irrespective of the outcome of the war, and hereby, Armenians dependent on the Ottoman State were involved in the war against Turkey. Caucasus visit of Nikolai II on the eve of World War I and his cooperation proposal to Armenians against the Ottomans further escalated the situation. Tsar concluded his speech In Tiflis with the following words: “May the ships under Russia’s flag independently sail in Bosporus and Dardanelles straits. May the Armenian nation establish its independent state in the Ottoman territories with the help of Russia!” (1) Thus, biased and inciting speech of Nicholas II secured Armenians participation on the side of Russia against Turkey. The Armenian ideologists, preparing to occupy Turkish territories and kill the population, received Armenian church’s blessings.
As it is known, on 1 November 1914, Russian army crossed the Ottoman borders to Caucasus. Both sides suffered heavy losses in the fights for Kars, Ardahan, and Batum. However, as a result of Sarikamish battle, 90 thousand Turkish soldiers and officers were taken hostages, on one hand, due to the harsh winter conditions, on the other hand, the Russian army was well-prepared. Russian army’s arrival in the Eastern Anatolia paved a way to the massacre against Turks by Armenians. By joining the Armenians serving at the Russian army, the local Armenians killed hundreds of thousands of innocent population and forced them to flee from their ancestral lands (2). Condition was created for realization of the plan “Great Armenia”, which had been propagated by the Armenian ideologists for many years. This attitude of Armenians’ against the local population forced the Ottoman state to take preventive measures. Thus, in mid June 1915, Armenian population were dislodged from the battlefields in Van, Bitlis, and Erzurum. Hereby, in the fight of Turks against the Russian and British soldiers, neutrality of Armenians was secured. At the same time, military leadership of the Ottoman state gave an order to Turks and other Muslims prohibiting to take any violent actions against Armenians. On 30 January 1919, London-based “Times” newspaper wrote: “Special commission was set up by the Ottoman government to regulate, after the war, the return of resettled Armenians to their homelands and getting back of their properties. The commission was due to enrol Armenian population. The documents of the commission repeatedly state that the Armenian population will be resettled back to their homelands after the conclusion of war”. (3)
The Entente propaganda machine and Armenian nationalists want to prove that during the World War I, over one million Armenians were killed in the Ottoman territories. They show the number of Armenians up until the war as 2,5 million as a fact to this end. However, according to the official statistical data of the Ottoman state, there had lived 1,3 thousand Armenians; only half of them had lived in the area where the military operations took place. During the war, half million Armenians had moved from Turkey to the Caucasus and other areas, 150-200 thousand Armenians migrated to the Western Europe and the US, and probably, the number of people died had been 200 thousand. As might be expected, this number includes not only the people who died due to the resettlement, but also the people who died of hunger and due to cold weather conditions and who went missing. “Times” wrote: “It is undeniable fact that two million Turks were killed in the Ottoman territories during the years of war”. (4)
Armenian ideologists try to convince the world that as if on 25 April 1915, the Minister of Internal Affairs Talat Pasha issued a written instruction to massacre Armenian population at the state level. Until today, Armenian ideologists could not show the original copy of that document as a fact to anyone. As there never existed such a document at all.
During the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, secret communications of Ottoman leaders were thoroughly examined and no document or order on the mass killing of Armenians was found. On the contrary, the European officials became aware that the Ottoman state had issued numerous commands and instructions in order to secure the safety of the resettled Armenian population.
The first genocide against the Muslim population in the Ottoman territories was committed by Armenians groupings on 14 March 1915 in Van district. In two days, Muslim population of the district was put to the sword and heavily tortured. “Armenian Van State” was formed under the auspices of the Russian army, which occupied the Ottoman territory. After the Van genocide, Armenian and Russian armed units attacked Bitlis district. Large territory from here to Mosul remained under the occupation of Armenian Dashnak forces. Until mid July 1915, 250 thousand Armenians were resettled to Van. However, the number of Armenians, who lived in these territories, was no more than 50 thousand. (5)
Since mid July 1915, Armenians committed countless criminal acts in these territories. Thus, the Ottoman army executed a counterattack; consequently, the Russian-Armenian army started to withdraw, and the Armenian population left these territories together with them as well. 200 thousand Armenian population, accompanied by the Russian army, moved towards the South Caucasus. It is true that in several places, this population was attacked by Kurds, as the latter also underwent genocide by Armenians.
Considering the fact from the extent of objectivity of documents concerning the Armenian-Ottoman relations during the World War I, and that majority of these documents were written by non-Muslim authors, it would be appropriate to look at the “Bristol’s documents”, which were kept in the Library of US Congress. The collection notes: “From the precise statistical data it is known that approximately 600 thousand Armenians died in 1912-1922. The views about the death of 1,5-2 million Armenians is nothing but a fantasy. People’s death and missing is a common observation in the territories where the war takes place.” Bristol’s documents show that at that time 2,5 million Turks were killed. Death and killing of Turks had been more dreadful than the death of Armenians. (6)
From the above-mentioned facts, we can conclude that the people who were subjected to the genocide in the Ottoman territories during the World War I had been the local Turkish population, but not Armenians.
In February 1917, the Romanovs were overthrown and over 300-year dynasty ended. Following this, the Russian Provisional Government was established. The Provisional Government set up Special Transcaucasian Committee on the administration of Transcaucasia. The Provisional Government declared that would take into the consideration the issue of destiny of the peoples living in the Russian territories after the World War I. However, in October 1917, the Bolsheviks led by Lenin seized the power by force and dreams of innocent people, who obliged to live under Russian auspices, did not come true. In November 1917, the Transcaucasian Commissariat was established in Tbilisi. Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia were represented there. The Bolsheviks led by Shaumyan united Dashnak forces in the region and were preparing for massacre against the local population in Baku. Particularly, activism of Baku Bolsheviks increased when the Bolsheviks took the authority in Russia.
On 30 March 1918, after all sorts of preparations, Dashnak forces and Bolsheviks led by Shaumyan started to commit genocide against the local population in Baku. From 30 March to 2 April, alone in Baku, more than 12 thousand Azerbaijanis – the elderly, children, and women – were killed. Armenians and Russian soldiers, who had already lost their humane qualities, were involved in this matter. There are tens of documents, which confirm that burning of Muslim corpses and insulting them in an offensive manner were committed by Armenian intelligentsia and church clergies. One of most beautiful buildings of Baku, dealing with charitable activities – “Ismailiyye” was burnt. Publishing house of “AçıqSöz” newspaper was razed to the ground. Vast majority of the population fled from Baku to rescue their lives. Some of them moved to Middle Asia and Iran and others became refugees in order to seek secure places to live. (7) After the massacre in Baku, Menshevik newspaper “Наш голос” wrote: “There were hundreds of corpses everywhere, paralyzed, deformed and burnt. Some were piled up, some of them separately. Scenery around the Tazapir mosque in the city center was dreadful. The mosque was harmed as a result of cannon-shot.” (8)
Criminal acts committed in Baku were also carried out in Guba, Khachmaz, Lenkeran, Hacigabul, Salyan and very heavily in Shamakhi. Alone it is enough to mention the fact that seven thousand Muslim people in Shamakhi, two thousand in Guba, over a thousand in Lenkeran and Astara, and two thousand in Salyan and Hacigabulwere killed, the houses were burnt, and the properties were confiscated. In order to investigate the genocide committed against Azerbaijani population, the Emergency Investigation Commission was set up in 1918. Majority of people who gave witness testimonies to this commission were of Jewish and Russian origin. Each of these testimonies written for the justice in 1918-1919 serve as an illustrative evidence to prove the actions of Armenian killers against the Azerbaijani population.
On 28 May 1918, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic declared its independence. Armenian forces, who had received support from tsarist regime in the fight against neighboring nations in the past, put forward territorial claims against Georgia and Azerbaijan. Armenians’ claims were very great that the Ottoman state, Azerbaijan and Georgia would have to compromise half of their territories. Armenians’ supporters abroad were playing active role on this issue. In March 1920, when the soviet Russia prepared to attack independent Azerbaijan, the Armenian nationalists revolted in Karabakh. While the Azerbaijani government sent its forces to Karabakh in order to suppress the revolt, the 11th Army invaded the country on 27 April.
After Bolshevication of Armenia, Zangazur territories of Azerbaijan were transferred to it. Caucasus Territorial Bureau of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party adopted a decision, without any ground, on the establishment of Armenian autonomy in the territories of Karabakh, Azerbaijan.
It is undeniable fact that in 1918-1920, Dashnak and Bolshevik units razed Azerbaijani villages to the ground in Baku, Shamakhi, Zengezur, Surmeli, Iravan, Echmiadzin, Sharuruyezd, Basarkecher, Qazakh, Ganja, Karabakh and other districts, tortured and killed thousands of women, elderly and children. During the genocide of Azerbaijanis, 565 thousand out of 575 thousand Azerbaijanis living in the present-day Armenia were massacred or repelled. This number was confirmed in the book “Population of the Soviet Armenia 1913-1931” authored by Z. Kordokyan (Yerevan, 1932). In November 1920, until the Bolshevication of Armenia, totally there were nearly ten thousand Azerbaijanis in this area. From 1922, only 60 thousand Azerbaijani refugees could return to their homelands.
After the end of World War II in 1945, Armenians again put forward groundless territorial claims. In November that year, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Armenian Communist Party Q. Harutyanov addressed to J. Stalin and demanded the transfer of Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. A. Mikoyan had played special role in putting forward these claims continuously and frequently.
Finally, on 23 December 1947, the Council of Ministers of the USSR adopted a resolution “On the resettlement of collective farmers and other Azerbaijani population from the Armenian SSR to the Kur-Araz lowland of Azerbaijan SSR”. A decision on the illegal resettlement of 150 thousand Azerbaijanis from the Armenian SSR under the pretext of resettlement of foreign Armenians was resulted from this policy. The collective farmers, who witnessed heavy war, lost their head of family, and suffered from hunger, were unexpectedly and forcibly resettled to the lowlands of Azerbaijan. In a short time, tens of thousands of people died of illness, hunger, heart and nervous system diseases.
Deportation of Azerbaijanis from the Armenian SSR completed in 1988. Thus, the law enforcement agencies of the Soviet government and Armenia deliberately were showing “incompetence” and negligence and inciting Armenian terrorists instead of protecting peaceful population. Until December 1988, Azerbaijanis and Muslim Kurds were deported from Armenian SSR. Nearly 300 people were tortured and killed, and approximately 35 thousand people were forced to flee from their ancestral lands. Alone in 20th century, Azerbaijani population in Armenia had undergone Armenian violence four times and deported from their homelands.
As if this genocide policy against the Azerbaijani population was not enough, 20% of Azerbaijani territories were occupied by the Armenian armed forces and over one million people became internally displaced during 1988-1993. Violent action committed in Khojaly village of Karabakh against the Azerbaijani population cannot be compared to any killer attack. In accordance with the pre-determined plan, Armenian and Russian armed units attacked Khojaly late at night. Thousands of people were praying in aid to rescue their lives. This genocide was the most terrible tragedy of late 20th century due to harsh winter conditions on one hand and on the other hand, people – elderly, children, and women were killed brutally and mercilessly. Hundreds of children were frozen to death. The most terrible is that the corpses of people were mutilated and humiliated.
During the Khojaly tragedy, 613 persons were killed, 1275 persons were taken hostages, 7 families completely annihilated, 27 families were killed excluding one member of each family, 230 families lost their head of family, and two hundred persons were disabled.
In this regard, we can remember the thoughts of U. Hajibayov in the article “31 March” written in 1919 for the commemoration of March genocide, which keeps its actuality today: “Today our duty is to always remember those black days and be ready for everything every moment. Our duty is to protect this country from any future aggressions and try to honorably eternize it.
Analysis of the historical facts shows that during 1914-1918, thousands of Muslims were killed and subjected to different brutalities due to their national and religious identity. Thus, by taking into consideration the Resolution of the UN General Assembly dated 11 December 1946 and the agreement dated 9 December 1948, it can be proved that Armenian Dashnak forces have committed the gravest act of crime against the humanity and the genocide against the Turkish population.
- Baykara H. Azərbaycan İstiqlal mübarizəsi tarixi. Bakı, 1992, səh.36.
- Eroğlu V. Ermeni mezalimi. İstanbul, 1978, səh.19.
- “Tayms” qəzeti 1919.
- Kurat A.N. Türkiyeve Rusiya. Ankara, 1990, səh.210.
- Yücer N. I dünya savaşında Osmanlı ordusunun Azerbaycanve Dağıstan herekatı. Ankara, 1996, səh.29.
- ARDA, f.1061, siy.1, iş 108, vər.8-10
- ARDSPİHA, f.277, siy.2, iş 16, vər.18
Head of Department at Baku State University
Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor
“EXPOSURE OF ARMENIA’S OCCUPATION POLICY (COMPILATION OF ARTICLES)”. BAKU – 2019, p.221-230