(MENAFN - AzerNews) By Vafa Ismayilova
March 31 marks the Day of Genocide of Azerbaijanis when Armenian nationalists jointly with Bolsheviks killed around 50,000 people on ethnic and religious grounds, destroyed settlements and razed to the ground cultural monuments, mosques and cemeteries in 1918.
Well-prepared, ruthless act
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry reported in an earlier statement on its website that the "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".
"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.
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.
The genocide perpetrated against the Azerbaijanis covered many other regions, including Shamakhi, Guba, Lankaran, Salyan, Iravan, Zangazur, Garabagh and Nakhchivan along with Baku.
Political and legal assessment
The March 1918 events became the focus of attention following the proclamation of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR) and in order to investigate violence against the Azerbaijanis the Council of Ministers adopted a decision on the establishment of the Extraordinary Investigation Commission on 15 July 1918.
At the first stage, the commission was involved in the investigation of the March genocide, the Armenian brutalities and grave crimes committed by the Armenians in the provinces of Shamakhi and Iravan. Special authority was established at the Foreign Ministry to increase the world community's awareness of the truth about these tragedies. In 1919 and 1920, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic commemorated 31 March as a national day of mourning. In fact, it was the first attempt to give a political assessment of the genocide and the occupation of our lands, which lasted for more than one century.
However, after the collapse of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, the process was halted and the investigation of the incidents and the attempts to politically and legally assess these events failed. Only 80 years later, on March 26, 1998, those horrific events received a proper political assessment when late Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev signed the decree 'On the genocide of Azerbaijanis.
The commemoration of the Day of Genocide of Azerbaijanis raises the awareness of the world community to the facts of the massacre and ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijanis in the past and present.
Since the late 1980s, unleashing the war against Azerbaijan and occupying its territories, Armenia continued the policy reminiscent of the March Massacre by carrying out ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis in Armenia and in the seized lands of Azerbaijan and committing numerous war crimes, crimes against humanity, and acts of genocide, including Khojaly Genocide of February 1992, the Foreign Ministry stated earlier.
"While remembering the innocent victims of March tragedy, we strongly condemn the deliberate and continued policy of genocide, crimes against humanity, racial discrimination and ethnic cleansing by Armenia against the people of Azerbaijan and reiterate the importance of ceasing impunity of Armenia to prevent the occurrence of such inhumane crimes," the ministry said.
Mass grave in Guba
Numerous new facts and documents have been collected over the past years thanks to researches in this direction. The mass grave unearthed in Guba region reveals one of the bloody pages of this tragedy. In April-May 1918, in Guba region alone 167 villages were razed to the ground. The mass graveyard in Guba region was unearthed on April 1, 2007, during the landscaping works on the site.
In 2009, under the Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers, 'Plan of action to perpetuate the memory of mass murder victims in Guba region was approved and a decision was made to construct a memorial complex and carry out renovation works in the site where mass graves were discovered.
In 2007, employees of the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences launched large-scale research in the mass grave, which was completed in September 2008. The research revealed that the mass grave was evidence of the genocide committed by the Armenians against the local citizens in 1918.
More than 400 human corpses of different age were found, including 50 children, 100 women, and the elderly. The research also found that along with the Azerbaijanis there were members of the Lezgi, Jewish, Tat, and other ethnic groups living in Guba region among those brutally killed and buried in the graveyard.
Addressing the official opening ceremony of the Guba Genocide Memorial Complex on September 18, 2013, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said: 'Of course, due to the fact that history was falsified in Soviet times, this was concealed from us. For many years, the thugs who shed the blood of the Azerbaijani people their cursed names are indicated there, e.g. Shaumyan and others like him were portrayed to us as heroes. I think this is a great tragedy. For many years, those who unleashed atrocities against our people were described in Soviet history as heroes and statues of them were erected in many places. Only in the years of independence, we restored justice... We know and should know all aspects of our history. The younger generation also needs to know what disasters our nation faced in the past.
On January 18, 2018, Aliyev signed an order on the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the 1918 genocide of the Azerbaijanis. The order said: 'The historical evidence revealed that the geography of bloody acts committed by the Armenian nationalists in March-April and in the late 1918s is much more widespread and the number of victims of tragedy is much bigger than expected.
The Azerbaijani people and government always pay tribute to the genocide victims and urge the world community to take the lesson from these historical events and to expose the true nature of Armenian fascism.
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