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March 31 – Day of Genocide of Azerbaijanis

Since the Republic of Azerbaijan regained its independence, it has become possible to open up the truth of the history of our nation. Genocide against Azerbaijanis by Armenians on March 31, 1918, was also one of the hidden pages of our history.
The Gulustan and Turkmenchay agreements signed in 1813 and 1828 respectively provided a legal ground for the partition of Azerbaijan and division of its historical lands. The occupation of the lands continued the national tragedy of Azerbaijan people. Within a short period of time, mass settlement of Armenians from Iran and Turkey started in Azerbaijan’s territories, in accordance with the imperial policy of Russia’s Tsardom.

Armenians moved to Irevan, Nakhchivan and Karabakh khanates and established their administrative territorial unit of “Armenian region”, despite their minority as compared to Azerbaijanis residing in the same area. This artificial separation provided political reasons for the removal and annihilation of Azerbaijanis in their native lands.

This was followed by propaganda of the establishment of the “Great Armenia”. In order to ensure the exculpation of the idea to establish this fictitious state in the territories of Azerbaijan, a wide-scale program, aimed at the falsification of the national history of Armenians, was started. The distortion of the history of Azerbaijan and the whole Caucasus formed an integral part of this program. From 1905-1907, inspired by the idea of the establishment of “Great Armenia”, Armenian nationalists started to openly conduct atrocious hostile actions against the people of Azerbaijan on a mass scale in Baku and then further spread them to the rest of Azerbaijan and also Azerbaijani settlements in the current territory of Armenia. Hundreds of settlements were razed to the ground and thousands of Azerbaijanis were savagely killed.

Armenians got use of the World War I, Russian revolutions in February and October 1917, and managed to accomplish their ideas under the plea of Bolshevism. The implementation of a cruel plan of ethnic cleansing in Azerbaijani provinces started with the Baku Commune under the plea of fighting against counter-revolutionary elements in March, 1918. Thousands of civilians were murdered for the only reason of being Azerbaijanis.

Armenians destroyed dwelling houses and burnt people alive. Most areas of Baku were turned into ruins with national architectural sights, schools, hospitals, mosques and other monuments destroyed.
The genocide of Azerbaijanis was particularly cruel in Baku, Shamakhi, Guba, Karabakh, Zangazur, Nakhchivan, Lenkaran and other regions. Many civilians in those areas were killed, the villages were burned to ashes and national monuments were razed to the ground.

After the establishment of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR), the closest attention was paid to the March 1918 events. The Council of Ministers issued a decree on July 15, 1918, in order to establish an extraordinary committee for the investigation of those tragic events. The committee investigated the first stage of the March 1918 genocide; the brutal acts in Shamakhi and the cruel crimes in Irevan province.
A special department was established under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to notify the international community about the truth. The ADR declared March 31 as a mourning day twice – in 1919 and 1920. It was the first attempt in the history to give a political assessment to genocide against the people of Azerbaijan and to the occupation of the country’s lands, which went on for over a century.

But the fall of the ADR did not allow this process to finish.

In 1920, Armenians got use of the coming of the Soviet forces to the South Caucasus, and declared the annexation of Zangazur and other regions of Azerbaijan to the Armenian Soviet Republic.

Armenians later started to utilize new means to strengthen their policy, aimed at the deportation of Azerbaijani people from these territories. For this purpose, Armenians used the December 23, 1947, decree of the Soviet Council of Ministers “On removal of collective farmers and other Azerbaijani population from the Armenian Soviet Republic to the Kura-Araz lowlands of the Azerbaijan Soviet Republic”. During 1948-1953, they finally achieved the purpose of mass deportation of Azerbaijani people from their historical lands, at the state level.

In early 1950s, Armenian nationalists with the help of their defenders began to conduct a cruel aggressive campaign against the people of Azerbaijan.

Armenians roughly violated the rights of Azerbaijani people, created the obstacles to get the education in native language and exerted a strong pressure upon them. The historical names of Azerbaijani villages were changed within a previously unforeseen process in the history of toponyms, when ancient names were replaced with the modern ones.

The trumped-up Armenian history was raised to the state policy level in order to bring up younger generations of Armenians in the spirit of chauvinism.
Brought up in the manner of Azerbaijani literature and culture, which served to great humanism ideals, the young generation of Azerbaijanis was persecuted by the followers of Armenia’s extremist ideology.
The claims against the Azerbaijani national spirit, honour and dignity, created an ideological platform for the political and military aggression. Azerbaijani genocide, which was not given a correct political and legal evaluation, led to the distortion of historical facts in the Soviet media and misleading of the communities by Armenians.
The deportation of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis from their historical lands at the first stage of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in 1988, also did not receive a correct political assessment in Azerbaijan.
Nagorno-Karabakh was taken from Azerbaijan’s control and annexed to the Armenian SSR at the basis of an unconstitutional decree of Armenian Republic and under assistance of the Moscow-led Special Administration Committee. This fact caused a serious dissatisfaction in Azerbaijan and forced it to begin important political activities. Even though the aggressive policy aimed at the occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan, was strongly criticized at numerous rallies held in Azerbaijan, the political leadership still did not give up its passive and contemplative position.

In February, 1992 Armenians accomplished unforeseen brutalities in Azerbaijan’s small town of Khojaly. The Khojaly genocide saw thousands of Azerbaijanis murdered and taken as prisoners of war. Khojaly itself was razed to the ground.

The adventurous policy of Armenian nationalists and separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh, forced over one million of Azerbaijani nationals from their homelands. Roughly 20 percent of Azerbaijani territories is occupied by Armenian armed forces, and thousands of Azerbaijani citizens got injured or became martyrs.

The tragedies, which took place in Azerbaijan in the 19th -20th centuries and resulted in occupation of Azerbaijani lands, formed the consecutive stages of Armenia’s purposeful policy against the Azerbaijani people. Efforts were made to give a political assessment to only one of those events – the March 1918 massacre. The successor of the ADR – the Republic of Azerbaijan – considers it as a historical duty to ensure a logical continuation of political evaluation to the genocide.

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