The scenario of the massacres that were committed against Azeri Turks at the beginning of 20th century in Caucasus, especially in the area of present Armenia, was based on the experience that Armenians gained at the end of 19th century in South Anatolia.
After the Russia-Turkey war of 1877-1878, the “Armenian case”, raised as the result of the attempts of European Countries, later had become assistance for Armenians to gain autonomy and build an independent Armenian state in Eastern Anatolia. In order to achieve this autonomy, first it was necessary to increase the proportion of Armenian population in East Anatolian provinces, namely in the provinces which Armenians called “West Armenia”. Superiority was not on their side in terms of the number of population, in the province that Armenians called “West Armenia”. Acting as the guarantor of Armenians, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France admitted this in the document that they published in 1897.
In those years, with the help of England and France, the propaganda of Armenian revolt was taking place in Turkey. “Dashnaksutyun” and “Hunchal” political organizations had taken the responsibility of the leadership. In order to commit mass confrontations, Armenians were attacking Turks and Kurds to cause massacres to start and later be able, through the European mass media, to make the world believe that Turks were subjecting them to massacres.
Sultan Ebdulhamid stopped the confrontations started by Armenians in 1894-1896 in Turkey. Majority of the organizers and executers of those confrontations had moved to different regions of Caucasus. According to the Russian author N. Shavrov, 900,000 Armenians were living in Transcaucasus in 1896 and 1,301,000 in 1908. Therefore, 400,000 Armenians had settled in Transcaucasus at that time. It was shown in the document of the police department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia in 1908, that “after the known events in Turkey half a million Armenians had come to Transcaucasus. These Armenians immediately showed their dark intentions”. After this, in the present area of Armenia, the number of the members of “Dashnakusutyun” Party increased even more, and the anti-Turk propaganda had gotten stronger in Caucasus. According to the information given by “Novoe Vremya” newspaper’s Irevan correspondent Griqoryev, 80% of crimes were committed by Armenians and paid assassins.
It is interesting that, even long before the Armenian troubles started in Turkey, couple of months after the “Dahnaksutyun” party was registered, namely in the January of 1891 Safrazyan’s four piece play novel was performed in Tagiyev theatre un Baku, in the 1st picture of that perform a Turk torturing an Armenian woman, in the 2nd piece that woman’s struggling for her freedom, in the 3rd piece that woman destroying the Turk were described, and in the 4th piece Armenia was described as having won freedom, on reflection of a young women. For that performance, the author of the novel, Safrazyan, was awarded the name of Baku’s makler. This information was taken from the letter that Caucasian janishins sent to Baku’s governor on February 7 ‘1891. As it seems, at the end of the 19th century, “Dashnakstyun” party’s anti-Turk propaganda engine had been started with its full force not only in Irevan and Tiflis, but also in Baku.
The Armenian Church was skillfully playing the role of the source of financial and spiritual nourishment for Armenian chauvinism and Armenian nationalist parties at the beginning of 20th century. Because the law passed in 1903, about transferring church’s lands to the disposal of Russia’s Ministry of Land and Stock, had struck the financial situation of the organizations financed by the church, Armenian terrorism had widened, and anti-Turk and anti-Muslim feelings had accelerated. In Irevan and Echmedzin, Armenian Church had organized revolts in protest against this law. On August 19 of the same year in Ganja, on September 2 in Gars and Baku, on September 12 in Shusha, on October 14 in Tiflis Armenians had committed conflicts and terrors. Confrontations that were taking place in Russia itself and the strengthening of waves of dissatisfaction against the empire was creating a stir in Transcaucasus. Armenians were skillfully taking advantage of this chaos. In order to avoid the blow away from them, Russia’s chauvinist governmental circles were accelerating Armenians anti-Turk and anti-Muslim campaign.
Armenian groups, armed with weapons supplied by high ranking Armenian and pro-Armenian officers of the Caucasus janishinlik (vicariate), wanted to attack Azeris living in Baku, Irevan, Naxchivan, Zengezur, Karabagh, Tiflis, Gence and other places, and increase the number of Armenians in those areas. Because, in that period Armenians made up majority in only 5 out of 54 gazas (gaza – administrative territorial unit) in Caucasus.
The following is said in the above-mentioned document of the police department about Armenian-Muslim massacres in Caucasus between 1905 and 1906: “Dashnaksytun” showed its power, Muslims lived, their cruelty. A double game had been played here: first, getting partial revenge on Muslims, and on the other hand, gaining strong propaganda materials to revolutionize not only the Armenians, but also some other inhabitants of Caucasus by blaming the press and Russian government of all the accidents. As the result, many Russian officers and various individuals not suitable for Armenians victims of terror: General Elikhanov, governors Nakashidze and Andreyev (the former governor of Baku and latter vice-gubernator of Yelizavetpol (Ganja)), Colonels Bikov and Sakharoc, and other government officers. Their second aim that they partially accomplished was that Armenian-populated and Muslim-populated territories were separated, and the lands for settling Armenians that had fled from Turkey and Iran were evacuated. Over the last 5-6 years, their number had reached up to half a million, and 200,000 of them gained citizenship with the authorization of Russian offices. Partial separation of territories in the Yelizavetpol, Irevan and Gars provinces had been achieved, certain parts of the lands had been emptied, and many Muslims saved their lives by fleeing.
Russia’s ruling circles also had played a double game for their purpose in Armenian-Muslim’s conflict in 1905-1906. As the imperial officers were afraid that the wave of dissatisfaction would be directed against the government, they stayed careless towards the massacres that Armenians committed in the areas where Muslims lived, and in some cases, by supporting their side, managed to make both parties to waste their power on ethnic clashes. This is said in the book, which was published in Istanbul by Jahangir Zeynaloglu, about setting up a special spy network for this purpose in 1924: “However Azeri-Turks still slept the sleep of the just and supported the empire in the conflicts. Using this naivety of the Muslims, Russia specially sent a delegation of 130 spies, using its propaganda against the Turks and Armenians, agitated them to raise weapons against each other and made the two nations, who had lived in peace for centuries, to massacre each other”.
Armenians had committed massacres in Irevan on February 21-23. According to the information given by M.S.Ordubadi in his book “Bloody years”, Armenians’ next intrigues were accelerated again with the wounding of 3 Muslims in Jahri, a village of Nakhchivan gaza on May 5, and the murder of a Muslim on May 7 in the village of Tunbul. On May 8, together with the head of Irevan city Agamalov and the glava (head of town) of Nakhchivan city Jafargulu Khan Nakhchivanski, the vice-governor of Irevan Baranoviski came to Nakhchivan. Because the massacres were not ceasing, General Alikhanov Avarski was also sent to Nakhchivan from Tiflis. Because they were defeated in Nakhchivan, Armenians committed their next conflicts in Irevan. The Armenians’ initial purpose consisted of clearing Irevan and the surrounding villages of Muslims, and then, as Ordubadi states, “of such low imaginations of uniting the Irevan Armenians with the forces standing by in Nakhchivan by destroying Muslim villages on the way from Irevan to Nakhchivan, and uniting Zengezur’s volunteers with military in Nakhchivan by destroying all the villages between Zengezur and Nakhchivan”.
On the May 23, a massacre starts with Armenians’ attack on young Muslims in the Garachay garden. Even though massacres were stopped in Irevan on May 31, Armenians decided to attack Muslims villages. In the same night, Armenians attacked to Gozejik village of the Girkhbulaq territory. On July 2, an Armenian battalion of 10 thousand attack Mengus village. The inhabitants of 12 destroyed Muslim villages run to Tazakand. Armenians attack Gulluja village on July 3. The unarmed inhabitants run to the villages of Tutik, Damargirmez and Kamal. Massacres continue for 18 days. On June 3, the Armenians of Abaran, Shoreyel, Pembek, and Aleksandrapol attack Ushu village of the Echmiadzin (Uchkilsa) gaza’s, on June 8, Muslims leave the village. On June 9, Armenians destroy the villages of Persi, Nezrevan, Kichikkend, Kotuklu Gashabulaq and others. On June 10, Armenians destruct 10 villages in Echmiadzin. M.S.Ordubadi characterized the genocide committed in 1905 by Armenians in the territories of present Armenia as following: “Irevan was burning and constricting noble Islam nation having turned into a flaming mountain, volcano”.
Whereas there were 313,176 Azeri people in Irevan province in 1897, after 10 years, i.e., in 1907, 302,965 people were left there. More than 10,000 Azeris were killed of the natural population increase in the Irevan province in 1905-1906.
Having achieved their goals in the Irevan province, Armenian armed groups started massacres in Garabagh. As the result of the attacks that started on June 1, the villages Veyelli, Qachar, Chemenli, Arishm Qishlaq, Mezre villages of Cebrayil-Garyagan were destroyed. Massacres were committed in Shusha on August 16.
According to the Armenian author C.Zavariyan, in Shusha gaza 12, in Cebrayil gaza 5, in Cavanshir gaza 15, in Zengezur gaza 43 Muslim villages (75 villages altogether) had been destroyed in that period.
A conference was held in Tiflis in 1906, with the initiative of the Caucasus janishin (vicar) Vorontsov- Dashkov, with the purpose of ending the Armenian-Muslim massacres. In that conference, Muslim spokesmen, Ahmed Bey Afayev, Merdan Bey Topchubashov, Adil Khan Ziyadkhanov and others, expose “Dashnaksyutun” party’s purpose, point out it being the organizer and the conductor of the massacres and terrorism committed in Caucasus, prove that government circles were ignoring the organization’s actions.
However, some time later the conference, Armenian armed groups start committing massacres again. After their second defeat in Baku and Shusha, “Great Russian revolution died out, we could not finish the job”, so, in order to open the roads from Garabagh to Zangezur, soldiers had been collected soldiers by writing telegrams to Armenians of Irevan, Abaran, Aleksandropol and Shorayel. Armenian population was too few in areas from Irevan to Zangezur, and from Zangezur to Garabagh. Therefore, Armenian groups were ordered to attack to Muslim villages on the way.
Generally, during 1905-1906, more than 200 Azeri populated places were destroyed in Irevan and Ganja provinces, and the people were subjected to genocide.
Vagif Arzumanly, Nazim Mustafa. Black pages of the history. Baku, 1998, p.45-52.
Translated from Azerbaijani language