By Jeyhun Aliyev
ANKARA (AA) - Azerbaijan marks the 1918 March genocide which was committed by Armenian forces jointly with Bolsheviks, a revolutionary party which was committed to the ideas of Karl Marx, claiming the lives of around 50,000 Azerbaijani people.
Referring to March 31 -- known as the Day of Genocide of Azerbaijanis -- as the "bloody massacre", Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry on Tuesday commemorated the victims of the tragedy.
"In March-April 1918, massacres were committed in the city of Baku and other towns and districts of the Baku Province by the Armenian dashnak-bolshevik armed groups operating under the mandate of the Baku Council (Baku Soviet), and tens of thousands of civilians were killed only for their ethnic and religious affiliation," the ministry said in a written statement.
Stepan Shaumian, an ethnic Armenian appointed as the Commissar Extraordinary for the Caucasus by Vladimir Lenin, head of the Russian Bolsheviks, admitted that 6,000 armed soldiers of the Baku Soviet and 4,000 from the Dashnaksutyun, or the Armenian Revolutionary Federation party, participated in the massacres against the Azerbaijani people, the ministry added.
"March massacres of 1918 were well prepared and ruthlessly implemented act by radical nationalist Armenians against Azerbaijanis on the grounds of racial discrimination and ethnic cleansing."
The genocide carried out against the Azerbaijanis along with Baku also covered many other regions, including Shamakhi, Guba, Lenkaran, Salyan, Iravan, Zangezur, Garabagh and Nakhchivan.
"During the first five months of 1918, more than 16,000 people were murdered with utmost cruelty in Guba province alone; a total of 167 villages were destroyed, 35 of which do not exist to this day. The Armenians also slaughtered local Jews and Lezghis living in Guba," it said.
The statement went on to say that the mass graves discovered in Azerbaijan's northern Guba region in 2007 constitute "clear evidence of the inhumane acts" committed by Armenians.
On Sept. 15, 1918, the Ottoman army named the Islamic Army of the Caucasus under the leadership of Nuri Pasha (Killigil) -- which was composed of elite soldiers and sent to Azerbaijan in the final months of the World War I, right after Azerbaijan’s plea from the Ottoman Empire -- liberated Baku paying the noble price of 1,132 martyrs who together with Azerbaijani people sacrificed their lives for the cause.
The liberation of Baku at that time paved the way for the transfer of the capital from Ganja to Baku, and to ensure the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and set the basis for its contemporary boundaries.
After the establishment of the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic, also known as the Azerbaijan People's Republic, in 1918, the government formed the Extraordinary Investigation Commission to investigate the serious crimes perpetrated by Armenians.
In 1919 and 1920, Azerbaijan Democratic Republic commemorated March 31 as a national day of mourning, which was the first attempt to give the political recognition to the genocide perpetrated against Azerbaijanis.
The Commission comprised of the best lawyers of that time representing different nationalities -- Russians, Jewish, Polish, Georgians, and even Armenians, based on the evidence launched criminal cases against 194 individuals accused of different crimes against the peaceful population, and, as a result, 24 individuals in Baku and about 100 individuals in Shamakhi region had been arrested for perpetrated crimes.
However, the process had been halted after the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic was toppled after almost two years by the Soviet Union, and the full investigation of the tragic events and its political and legal assessment had been prevented.
Although many years passed, that bloodshed has not been forgotten, and after the restoration of Azerbaijan's independence in 1991, then Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev declared March 31 as the Day of Genocide of Azerbaijanis which is marked every year in the country at the state level.
- Over 200 years of crime
Anadolu Agency compiled information on the Armenian crimes against the people of Azerbaijan during at least the past two hundred years.
The mass settling of Armenians in historical Azerbaijani lands mainly started after the division of country's lands as a result of the Russo-Persian wars of 1804-1813 and 1826-1828, whereas the Russian victories in both wars had an impact on the conclusion of the treaties, according to the website of Permanent Representation of Azerbaijan to the Council of Europe.
The crimes made by Armenian Dashnak nationalists in 1905 and 1918 at the support of the Imperial Russia and Bolsheviks, stage-by-stage transfer of Azerbaijani territories to Armenia in 1920s, the deportation of Azerbaijani people from Armenia in 1948-1953 on the decision of the Soviet government along with many other acts of militant Armenian chauvinists have been carried out under the special scenario of creation "great Armenia."
Since the late 1980s, unleashing the war against Azerbaijan and occupying its territories, Armenia continued the policy reminiscent of March massacre by carrying out ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis in Armenia and the seized lands of Azerbaijan and committing numerous war crimes, crimes against humanity, and acts of genocide.
The latest crimes provoked by Armenian management and the USSR separatist actions led to the occupation of Azerbaijan's internationally recognized Upper Karabakh territories -- also known as Nagorno-Karabakh -- in 1991.
On Feb. 26, 1992, on the heels of the Soviet Union's dissolution, Armenian forces took the town of Khojaly in Karabakh, after pounding it with tank and heavy artillery fire, assisted by an infantry regiment, and committed a massacre against over 600 Azerbaijani civilians in the area.
Four UN Security Council and two General Assembly resolutions, as well as decisions by many other international organizations, refer to the aggression and demand the withdrawal of Armenia’s occupation forces from Upper Karabakh and seven other occupied regions of Azerbaijan.
The OSCE Minsk Group – co-chaired by France, Russia and the U.S. – was formed to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, but has yet to get any results.