Nazim Mustafa, a PhD in History and the chief of Department of the President Library, a resaerch fellow at the Institute of History of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences. As one of the authors of the series publications on Garabagh, Nakhchivan and Irevan khanates, he was awarded to the Azerbaijan State Award. He is one of the main researchers of the 1905-1906 genocide-realted issues.
– Nazim muellim, the genocide which Armenians committed to the Azerbaijanis is a little explored area in the Azerbaijan science. You are the main researcher of these events. In fact, what are the main reasons leading to these events?
The genocide, Armenians committed in Southern Caucasus in 1905-1906 is the outcome of the desire of the Armenian political parties “Dashnaksutun” and “Hincak” to get a territory for their compatriots through ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijanis. After the suppression of the Armenian riots in Turkey in 1894-1896, four hundred thousand Armenians who participated in the events moved to the different regions of Southern Caucasus. The majority of them came with their guns. As they came from Turkey, they had access to the present-day Armenian territory where Azerbaijanis lived at that time. Obviously, as the Azerbaijanis had been living in the same territory and the land belonged to them, there was no place for Armenians to live. They mainly tried to dwell in Irevan, because it was easier to find a place in the city.
Since the year of 1903 the Armenians, those who had earlier moved and settled from Iran and Turkey alongside with the four hundred thousand Armenians those who moved to various regions of South Caucasus in later periods, unleashed their separatist movement. This separatism worried the Tsarist government. Since the Armenians tried to get autonomy both in Turkey and Caucasus, in the next stage they aimed to create a unified Armenian state by combining these autonomies. The Armenian churches skillfully played the role of the funding source and weapons storage for the Armenian chauvinism, the Armenian nationalist parties and the armed groups affiliated with them. The Tsarist Russia began seriously to feel disturbed when the Armenian Church and the Armenian chauvinism put territorial claims against Russia, and intentions to establish “the state of Great Armenia” in a large territory from Eastern Anadolu to Voronej. In 1903 the Tsarist Russia issued an edict to close the Armenian schools where lessons were taught describing Caucasus as a part of the Great Armenia and a decree transferring the church property to the disposal of the Ministry of Land and Real Estate of Russia. The decree seriously damaged the financial state of the political organizations financed by the church.
This event leaded to the Armenian terrorism. The Armenians sent an ultimatum to all terms of authorities if that decision was implemented, the terror would be carried out to the authorized persons. They also followed it. In Yerevan and Kars terror was committed against Tsarist officials. At the same time the purpose was that, in future to prevent the authorities’ interference if mass destruction would be carried out against Azerbaijanis. Subsequent to that, Nakashidze, the governor of Baku and Andreyev, the vice-governor of Ganja were killed. These persons were the officials who prevented Armenians from conducting ethnic cleansing policy. In this way they could intimidate the Tsarist officials.
On February 6 in 1905 the Muslim massacres of Armenians escalated by the murder of an Azerbaijani by Armenians in Baku. Though the Armenian armed gangs were ready for a long time before, Azerbaijanis, in M.S.Ordubady’s words, were in a deluded dream. Those massacres were not a result of a coincidence. It took place in a planned manner exactly in a city that the wealthy Armenians of Southern Caucasus unified from time to time. In Baku the main purpose of the Armenians was to seize the oil fields, because the oil fields played a role of the funding source for the Armenian political parties and the Armenian terrorists. The major oil producers – mantashevs, mirzoyans others paid large amounts of money as a party’s membership fee to the “Dashnaksutun” and “Hincak”. The Armenians were equipped by means of those funds. The massacres began on February 6 in Baku and on February 20 in Irevan. At that time Erevan had a population of thirty thousand people, half of which were Armenians and the other half were Azerbaijanis. The city and the surrounding Armenian villages were besieged by Armenian armed gangs and the Azerbaijani population was inflicted. The Armenians crossed from Irevan to Nakhchivan, but Azerbaijanis’ self-discipline did not allow them to achieve the objectives there. As M.S.Ordubady wrote, the goal was to occupy from Iravan to Nakhchivan, from Nakhchivan to Zangazur, from Zangazur to Qarabagh and create an Armenian enclave. The Armenians whose intention failed in Nakhchivan provoked unrest again in Iravan in May. Then they killed the Azerbaijani population in Girkhbulag district and Echmiedzin (Uchkilse) distrct. In 1905-1906 the Armenians committed slaughter three times in Baku, four times in Iravan. They killed many Azerbaijanis in all seven districts of the Irevan Province. One hundred and fifty Azerbaijani villages were emptied and their residents could not return to their land later. In the next stage, the Armenians inflicted Azerbaijanis in Zangazur district. The most terrible killings took place in Zangazur. As Zangazur was a little away, it was possible to reach Zangazur from Ganja in two days and in such a situation no one was aware of the crimes committed by the Armenians. They destroyed forty five Azerbaijani villages only in Zangazur district. The massacres were continued in Gazakh and Ganca. Armenians intended to scroll to Ganca from the direction of Gazakh and Gedebey, to Garabagh and Ganca from the direction of Zangazur and in this way to occupy the left banks of the River Kur. However, the Armenian attacks were prevented in the direction of Gazakh and Gedebey. It is interesting both during the genocide in 1918 and I Garabagh War the Armenians took the same directions.
Generally speaking, the main purpose of committing massacres was to create an enclave as a result of ethnic cleansing and then to declare unified Armenian state by combining these enclaves.
Referring to the events of the years of 1905-1906, M.S.Ordubady wrote that the Armenians were after to make a pass to Irevan without meeting any Muslim for the Armenians who took a weapon in Khankendi. Unfortunately, the Armenians who could not realize their dream in 1905-1906, could achieve it in 1988-1993.
– Nazim muellim, before it was such a thought that, supposedly the Tsarist government provoked the Armenian-Azerbaijanis conflict to prevent any possible riot by workers in Baku in 1905. However, the scale of massacres spread boundaries of Baku. To what extend does this version seems valid?
As I noted earlier, the Armenians threatened the Russian officials with the terrorist attacks before. Therefore the majority of them were loyal to these massacres. Let me note another fact, the Caucasian viceroy Voronsov-Dashkov’s wife Yelizaveta Grigoryevna was of Armenian descent. She had private relationship with Mesrop, one of the leaders of the “Dashnaksutun” party. Even she used to go to the viceroy’s house from the back door. According to the Armenian author Anaid Lalayan, the whole points on the 1905-1906 Armenian – Muslim massacre was solved in the Voronsov-Dashkov’s bedroom. Even a colonel, the head of the security service of the viceroy wrote that, Voronsov-Dashkov’s head clerk Peterson used to distribute weapons among the Armenians. So, the Caucasus viceroy was stand for the Tsarist Russia. At that time he was an elderly person, at the age of 84. His young wife had a great impact on him, and she did not allow taking any measures against Armenians. As well as the Tsarist government defeated the Russian-Japanese War, tried to prevent revolutionary condition in the large cities, and could not reach the outskirts. The Armenians took the opportunity of the condition of impunity and committed massacres.
– But how were the massacres stopped though they had such a large geographical scale?
Till that time the Azerbaijanis, who were not in earnest about Armenians, did not accept them as a power, felt the reality of losing all of their territory. For this reason the Azerbaijanis organizational process began. In 1906, for the first time “Geyret” and “Difai” parties in Ganca, “Mudafie” party under the leadership of Ibrahim bey Vekilov in Gazakh were created. The aim of the party which was created in Gazakh was to protect Gazakh and Borchali districts against Armenian attacks. “Difai” party which was created under the leadership Ahmed bey Aghayev chose the purpose to protect Ganca and Yelizavetpol province. Even this party was organized in such a conspiratorial condition, the Tsarist government was aware of its existence after 1-2 years. The brunches of “Difai” were created in Baku, Ganca, Irevan, Nakhchivan, Kars and Igdir. As the result of their activities, the slaughters were prevented. The “Difai” party made a statement on the punishment of the Tsarist officials who turned a blind eye to the Armenian massacres and were loyal to them. Following the punishment of Galoshapov, the governor-general of Shusha and Aksel Enkel, the governor of Nakhchivan by the party members for the turning a blind eye to the massacres committed by Armenians, the Tsarist officials began to take tough measures. The disarmament of the Armenian armed gangs took place. After the tough measures of the “Difai” party, the Armenians created a reconciliation committee as if they were along with the corruption succumb of the Tsarist government.
In 1905-1906 the Azerbaijanis were inflicted by the Armenian armed gangs in 7 large cities, 12 provinces and more than two hundred Azerbaijani villages were destroyed.
– But how did the Azerbaijanis who woke up the deluded dream, fall asleep again that they were subjected to more dangerous genocide after 12-13 years?
It derives from both our mercifulness and forgetfulness. The Armenians sheathing off after the reconciliation waited for the opportunity. Such an opportunity reached in the period of the World War I. Tsarist Russia helped the Armenians who were eager to achieve autonomy in the territory of Turkey. The Armenians’ arming was shifted in Caucasus. I have to say that, 150 thousand Armenians served in the Russian Army. They firstly attacked the villages of the Eastern Anatolia where the Azerbaijanis lived. The slaughters took place in this area have been less studied, because these territories were a part of Russia and Turks could not reach there. Only Baku Muslim Society operating with the funds of wealthy Azerbaijanis helped the refugees and orphaned children from these territories, built a shelter for them in Baku and Ganja, provided their treatment.
After the failure in the Turkish front, the Armenians this time intended to build their state in Caucasus. The Armenians who returned from the front took their weapons to the Azerbaijanis. Andronik, Hamazasp, Dron and other’s armed gangs destroyed more than five hundred Azerbaijani villages. On March–May in 1918 Azerbaijanis were subjected to the massive genocide.
– Why was Irevan chosen as a place to create “Armenian province” exactly?
I have to say, creating “the Armenian province” did not even come to Armenians’ mind. It was Russians’ idea. Sometimes there is such a thought that supposedly Russia wanted to build an Armenian state. Actually Russia did not have such an idea. It only took into account creating a Christian buffer between Turkey and Russia. Only Armenians could be such a buffer, i.e Russians used Armenians as a tool, because they learned Armenians’ trait well. They were aware of their treacherous attitude to the states that they were the subjects of.
– There are different thoughts about the history of establishment of Irevan. Some people suggest that it was established in the VII century, others suggest that it was established in the Safavid period. As the author of the numerous studies on Irevan, it is interesting to know your opinion about it.
Supposedly holding an assembly of religious figures in Dvin in the VII century and stating two Armenians’ participation there is completely wrong. It was falsified to prove Irevan as an ancient Armenian city. The Armenian history is completely fictitious. As to Erebuni, I have to say that it was a military fortification in the Urartu period. Different storages for the army supplies were built and there was no residence there. They thought this only to declare Urartu state as an Armenian state. But the archeological researches show that either Erebuni or Urartu state has nothing to do with the Armenians. Irevan was built as a fortified castle, and then a city was formed around it. It took place exactly in the Safavid period. Until that time Irevan was a small village which Azerbaijanis lived. Armenians came there as a Christian missionaries and built caravanserais and churches for their rest and worship in the territory which they bought along the road with the consent of the local authorities.
– What recommends have you got to 1905.az?
I was acquainted with the 1905.az for a long time. You are busy with very useful work. There was lack of systemic in your activity before, but now the systematic character is felt. Please continue to do so. Once again study carefully with the sources.