The Erivan Massacres
Up to 200 Azerbaijani villages in the Erivan uyezd were laid flat prior to March 1918; 62 Azerbaijani villages in the Echmiedzin uyezd were leveled with the ground before September 1919. All villages but a few in the Zengibasar (the Erivan uyezd) and the Vedibasar provinces were shattered, and the population was cruelly killed; those who remained alive fled in search of shelter. The fleeing families took refuge in Persia, Turkey, and other provinces of Azerbaijan.
The Vartanly village in the Gugark province lived through a similar tragedy: In mid-April, the Armenian troops assembled the Azerbaijani peasants in a hut under the pretext of holding a meeting. Around 120-150 people were forced into the hut. Priest Vahan opened the meeting and spoke of friendly coexistence of the two communities in the same village. Suddenly, several armed Armenians entered and took the priest out. Then they locked the door and threw a thatch dipped in oil into the hut from the roof. The people—including children, elderly, and women—screamed louder as they were getting stifled from the smoke; many of them fainted, and the rest rushed to punch the door. The unarmed people resisted in vain.
In 1918, the Armenian military forces carried out an ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijanis in the Kotayk district located in northeast of Erivan. Prior to the 1918 massacres, Azerbaijanis constituted majority of the district residents. However, by that time, Azerbaijanis had been torturously expelled from Avdallar, Artiz, Ashaghy Gakht, Bashkend, Bozkosa, Gayakharaba, Garachala, Garachorek, Gizgala, Gurbaghaly, Damagirmez, Dellekli, Ekerek, Zer, Yelgovan, Yellije, Kamal, Kenkhan, Kerpijli, Goykilse, Gulluje, Nurnus, Okhchu Galasy, Tezeharab, Chobangorukmez, and other villages of the district. The majority of the exiled population was killed by Andranik’s gangs and troops of the Dashnak government.
In April 1920, the Azerbaijan newspaper reported, “Not a single Azerbaijani family remains in the Goyche province. At present, 84 Muslim villages rest in ruins in the Yeni Beyazid uyezd, 22 of them have been destroyed in April. Over 15,000 families from Dashkend, Goshabulag, Sariyagub, Bash Shorcha, Ashagy Shorcha, Soghangulu-aghaly, Aghkilse, Zod, Gulu, Aghaly, Boyuk Garagoyunlu, Kichik Garagoyunlu, Zerzibil, Edli, Inekdagh, Garaiman, Kesemen, Bashkend, Bala Merze, Shishgaya, Bash Haji, Geribgaya villages have fled for safety and left their possessions behind. Now Armenians have taken over their property valued at hundreds of millions or even billions [of manat].”205 Most of the population of West Azerbaijan—the present territory of the Republic of Armenia with roughly 565,000 people—were cruelly killed or ousted from their homeland as a result of the genocide executed by Andranik’s brigandish troops and the Dashnaks in 1918-20.
An Armenian historian, Z. Korkodyan, wrote in his book titled The Population of Soviet Armenia in 1831-1931 that a little more than ten thousand Turks (Azerbaijanis) remained in the area by 1920 when Soviet rule was established in Armenia. 211 Azerbaijani villages in the Erivan guberniya and 92 Azerbaijani villages in the Kars province were looted, ruined, and burned in 1918. One of the numerous appeals of the Azerbaijanis of Erivan mentioned that 88 villages were destroyed, 1,920 households were burned, and 132,000 Azerbaijanis were killed in Erivan—the historically native province for Azerbaijanis—over a period of several months. The violence initiated by the Armenian punitive forces and the policy of “Armenia without the Turks,” then pursued by the Dashnak government, led to drastic decrease in the number of the Azerbaijani population in the Erivan guberniya from 375,000 in 1916 to 70,000 in 1922.
Hovhannes Katchaznouni, one of the leaders of the Dashnaktsutiun Party, writes, “We were officially at war with Azerbaijan, because we were actually fighting with them in Karabakh. There were often clashes in Gazakh too. Inside the country, at certain places like Aghbaba, Zod, Zengibasar, Vedibasar, Sherur-Nakhchevan, Zangezur etc. many bloody battles were fought with the native Muslim inhabitants.” The leader of the Dashnak government admitted that hostilities of all kinds were launched against the Muslims in the above provinces. Hovhannes Katchaznouni writes, “We were not able to establish order by means of administrative methods, in the Muslim regions; we were obliged to use arms, send troops, demolish and massacre . . . In important points such as Vedibasar and Şarur-Nakhichevan we were not able to establish our authority even with arms; we lost and receded.”
The invasion of Baku by the Eleventh Red Army on April 27 and subsequent subjugation of all other parts of Azerbaijan thwarted the accomplishment of the mission of the Azerbaijani government on ensuring territorial integrity of the country. A number of territories, including Zangezur, were annexed to Soviet Armenia. The massacres of the Muslim population in 1918-20 thus proved to be a policy of genocide deliberately planned and executed by the Dashnaktsutiun toward the establishment of Great Armenia.