Armenians in Azerbaijan

Armenians in Azerbaijan are the Armenians who lived in great numbers in Azerbaijan. According to the statistics, about 400,000 Armenians lived in Azerbaijan in 1989 [Memorandum from the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights to John D. Evans, Resource Information Center, 13 June 1993.] ["Implementation of the Helsinki Accords: Human Rights and Democratization in the Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union" (Washington, DC: U.S. Congress, Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, January 1993), p. 118.] . Most of the Armenian-Azerbaijanis however had to flee the republic, like Azeris in Armenia, in the events leading up to the Nagorno-Karabakh War, a result of the ongoing Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. Atrocities directed against the Armenian population have reportedly taken place in Sumgait (February 1988), Ganja (Kirovabad, November 1988) and Baku (January 1990). Today the Armenians in Azerbaijan are largely concentrated in the break-away region of Nagorno-Karabakh [ [ Assessment for Armenians in Azerbaijan, Minorities At Risk Project] ] (known as the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast), which declared its unilateral act of independence in 1991 under the name Nagorno-Karabakh Republic but has not been recognised by any country.

In Azerbaijan, the status of Armenians, is shaky at best. [Azerbaijan: The status of Armenians, Russians, Jews and other minorities, report, 1993, INS Resource Information Center, p. 10] . Armenian churches remain closed, because of the large outmigration of Armenians and fear of Azeri attacks [United States Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1992 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, February 1993), p. 708] .

Armenians still remaining in Azerbaijan have continued to complain that they remain subject to harassmant and human rights violations. ["Implementation of the Helsinki Accords: Human Rights and Democratization in the Newly Independent States ofthe former Soviet Union" (Washington, DC: U.S. Congress, Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe,January 1993), p. 118] .

Armenians in Baku and other areas in the Azerbaijani Republic

The Anti-Armenian feelings were aroused because of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh resulting in the exodus of most Armenians from Baku and elsewhere in the republic. [ [ Assessment for Armenians in Azerbaijan, Minorities At Risk Project] ]

Much of the anti-Armenian sentiments among the Azeri people today stem from Nagorno-Karabakh War and the resulting loss of Nagorno-Karabakh territories as well as some other Azeri regions. The Khojaly Massacre (1992) perpetrated by Armenian irregulars against the Azeris also flaired the situation.


However, it should also be noted that among the events precipitating the conflict were pogroms perpetrated by Azeris against ethnic Armenians in the Azeri towns of Sumgait (1988), Kirovabad (Ganja) (1988) and Baku (1990) [ Pogroms] ] Verify credibility|date=August 2008 and that the Azeris themselves committed atrocities against Armenians during the war, such as the attack on the town of Maraghar (1992). [ Survivors of the Maraghar Massacre] , Christianity Today.]

Armenian Churches in Baku

The Armenian churches in Baku include the Armenian Apostolic Church of St. Gregory Illuminator ("Sourb Grigor Lousavoritch" in Armenian) and the Old Armenian Church (Baku Fortress). At the height of atrocities against the Armenian minorities in Baku in 1990, the Armenian church in Baku was set on fire, but was restored in 2004.

Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding territories

Armenians have lived in the Karabakh region since Roman times. In the beginning of the 2 century B.C. Karabakh became a part of Armenian Kingdom as province of Artsakh. In the 14th century, a local Armenian leadership emerged, consisting of five noble dynasties led by princes, who held the titles of meliks and were referred to as Khamsa (five in Arabic). The Armenian meliks maintained control over the region until the 18th century. In the early 16th century, control of the region passed to the Safavid dynasty, which created the Ganja-Karabakh province ("beglarbekdom", bəylərbəyliyi). Despite these conquests, the population of Upper Karabakh remained largely Armenian.Cornell, Svante E. [ The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict] . Uppsala: Department of East European Studies, April 1999.] .

Karabakh passed to Imperial Russia by the Kurekchay Treaty, signed between the Khan of Karabakh and Tsar Alexander I of Russia in 1805, and later further formalized by the Russo-Persian Treaty of Gulistan in 1813, before the rest of Transcaucasia was incorporated into the Empire in 1828 by the Treaty of Turkmenchay. In 1822, the Karabakh khanate was dissolved, and the area became part of the Elisabethpol Governorate within the Russian Empire.

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Karabakh became part of the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic, but this soon dissolved into separate Armenian, Azerbaijani, and Georgian states. Over the next two years (1918-1920), there were a series of short wars between Armenia and Azerbaijan over several regions, including Karabakh. In July 1918, the First Armenian Assembly of Nagorno-Karabakh declared the region self-governing and created a National Council and government. [ The Nagorno-Karabagh Crisis: A Blueprint for Resolution, New England Center for International Law & Policy] Later, Ottoman troops entered Karabakh, meeting armed resistance by Armenians.

In April 1920, while the Azerbaijani army was locked in Karabakh fighting local Armenian forces, Azerbaijan was taken over by Bolsheviks. Subsequently, the disputed areas of Karabakh, Zangezur, and Nakhchivan came under the control of Armenia. During July and August 1920, however, the Red Army occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, Zangezur, and part of Nakhchivan. Later on, for basically political reasons, the Soviet Union agreed to a division under which Zangezur would fall under the control of Armenia, while Karabakh and Nakhchivan would be under the control of Azerbaijan.

With the Soviet Union firmly in control of the region, the conflict over the region died down for several decades. With the beginning of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the question of Nagorno-Karabakh re-emerged.

Armenians alledge that this followed the Azerbaijani and Soviet military forces jointly starting "a campaign of violence to disperse Armenian villagers from areas north and south of Nagorno-Karabakh, a territorial enclave in Azerbaijan where Armenian communities have lived for centuries" [ HRW Report on Soviet Union Human Rights Developments, 1992] .

"However, the unstated goal was to "convince" the villagers half are pensioners to relocate permanently in Armenia." [ HRW Report on Soviet Union Human Rights Developments, 1992] This military action was officially called "Operation Ring," because its basic strategy consists of surrounding villages (included Martunashen and Getashen) with tanks and armored personnel carriers and shelling them. Azerbaijani villagers were allowed to come and loot the empty Armenian villages, while more than ten thousand Armenian villagers have been forced to leave Azerbaijan.

The majority Armenian population started a movement that culminated in the unilateral declaration of independence.

Armenians in Nakhchivan

Armenians had a historic presence in Nakhchivan. According to an Armenian tradition, Nakhchivan was founded by Noah, of the Abrahamic religions. It became part of the Satrapy of Armenia under Achaemenid Persia circa 521 BC. In 189 BC, Nakhchivan was part of the new Kingdom of Armenia established by Artaxias I. The area's status as a major trade center allowed it to prosper, though because of this, it was coveted by many foreign powers. According to historian Faustus of Byzantium (4th century), when the Sassanid Persians invaded Armenia, Sassanid King Shapur II (310-380) removed 2,000 Armenian and 16,000 Jewish families in 360-370. [ ARMENIA, by Richard Gottheil, Herman Rosenthal, Louis Ginzberg] ] In 428, the Armenian Arshakuni monarchy was abolished and Nakhchivan was annexed by Sassanid Persia. In 623 AD, possession of the region passed to the Byzantine Empire. Nakhchivan itself became part of the autonomous Principality of Armenia under Arab control.Mark Whittow. "The Making of Byzantium, 600-1025", p. 210. ISBN 0-520-20497-2]

In the 16th century, control of Nakhchivan passed to the Safavid dynasty of Persia. Because of its geographic position, it frequently suffered during the wars between Persia and the Ottoman Empire in the 14th to 18th centuries. In 1604, Shah Abbas I Safavi, concerned that the lands of Nakhichevan and the surrounding areas would pass into Ottoman hands, decided to institute a scorched earth policy. He forced the entire local population, Armenians, Jews and Muslims alike, to leave their homes and move to the Persian provinces south of the Aras River. [The Status of Religious Minorities in Safavid Iran 1617-61, Vera B. Moreen, Journal of Near Eastern Studies Vol. 40, No. 2 (Apr., 1981), pp.128-129] . Many of the deportees were settled in the neighborhood of Isfahan that was named New Julfa since most of the residents were from the original Julfa (a predominantly Armenian town).

After the last Russo-Persian War and the Treaty of Turkmenchay, the Nakhchivan khanate passed into Russian possession in 1828. Alexandr Griboyedov, the Russian envoy to Persia, stated that by the time Nakhchivan came under Russian rule, only 17% of its residents were Armenians, while the remainder of the population (83%) were Muslims. After the resettlement initiative, the number of Armenians had increased to 45% while Muslims remained the majority at 55%. With such a dramatic increase in population, Griboyedov noted friction arising between the Armenian and Muslim populations. The Nakhchivan khanate was dissolved in 1828, its territory was merged with the territory of the Erivan khanate and the area became the Nakhchivan uyezd of the new Armenian oblast, which later became the Erivan Governorate in 1849. According to official statistics of the Russian Empire, by the turn of the 20th century Azerbaijanis made up 57% of the uyezd's population, while Armenians constituted 42%. At the same time in the Sharur-Daralagyoz uyezd, the territory of which would form the northern part of modern-day Nakhchivan, Azeris constituted 70.5% of the population, while Armenians made up 27.5%. [ru icon [ Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary. "Sharur-Daralagyoz uyezd".] St. Petersburg, Russia, 1890-1907]

During the Russian Revolution of 1905, conflict erupted between the Armenians and the Azeris, culminating in the Armenian-Tatar massacres. In the final year of World War I, Nakhchivan was the scene of more bloodshed between Armenians and Azerbaijanis, who both laid claim to the area. By 1914, the Armenian population was at 40% while the Azeri population increased to roughly 60%.Ian Bremmer and Ray Taras. "New States, New Politics: Building Post-Soviet Nations", p. 484. ISBN 0-521-57799-3] After the February Revolution, the region was under the authority of the Special Transcaucasian Committee of the Russian Provisional Government and subsequently of the short-lived Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic. When the TDFR was dissolved in May 1918, Nakhchivan, Nagorno-Karabakh, Zangezur (today the Armenian province of Syunik), and Qazakh were heavily contested between the newly formed and short-lived states of the Democratic Republic of Armenia (DRA) and the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR). In June 1918, the region came under Ottoman occupation. Under the terms of the Armistice of Mudros, the Ottomans agreed to pull their troops out of the Transcaucasus to make way for the forthcoming British military presence.

Under British occupation, Sir John Oliver Wardrop, British Chief Commissioner in the South Caucasus, made a border proposal to solve the conflict. According to Wardrop, Armenian claims against Azerbaijan should not go beyond the administrative borders of the former Erivan Governorate (which under prior Imperial Russian rule encompassed Nakhchivan), while Azerbaijan was to be limited to the governorates of Baku and Elisabethpol. This proposal was rejected by both Armenians (who did not wish to give up their claims to Qazakh, Zangezur and Karabakh) and Azeris (who found it unacceptable to give up their claims to Nakhchivan). As disputes between both countries continued, it soon became apparent that the fragile peace under British occupation would not last. In December 1918, with the support of Azerbaijan's Musavat Party, Jafar Kuli Khan Nakhchivanski declared the Republic of Aras in the Nakhchivan uyezd of the former Erivan Governorate assigned to Armenia by Wardrop. The Armenian government did not recognize the new state and sent its troops into the region to take control of it. The conflict soon erupted into the violent Aras War. By mid-June 1919, however, Armenia succeeded in establishing control over Nakhchivan and the whole territory of the self-proclaimed republic. The fall of the Aras republic triggered an invasion by the regular Azerbaijani army and by the end of July, Armenian troops were forced to leave Nakhchivan City to the Azeris. Again, more violence erupted leaving some ten thousand Armenians dead and forty-five Armenian villages destroyed. Meanwhile, feeling the situation to be hopeless and unable to maintain any control over the area, the British decided to withdraw from the region in mid-1919. Still, fighting between Armenians and Azeris continued and after a series of skirmishes that took place throughout the Nakhchivan district, a cease-fire agreement was concluded. However, the cease-fire lasted only briefly, and by early March 1920, more fighting broke out, primarily in Karabakh between Karabakh Armenians and Azerbaijan's regular army. This triggered conflicts in other areas with mixed populations, including Nakhchivan. In mid-March 1920, Armenian forces launched an offensive on all of the disputed territories, and by the end of the month both the Nakhchivan and Zangezur regions came under stable but temporary Armenian control.

In July 1920, the 11th Soviet Red Army invaded and occupied the region and on July 28, declared the Nakhchivan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic with "close ties" to the Azerbaijan SSR. A referendum was called for the people of Nakhchivan to be consulted. According to the formal figures of this referendum, held at the beginning of 1921, 90% of Nakhchivan's population wanted to be included in the Azerbaijan SSR "with the rights of an autonomous republic. The decision to make Nakhchivan a part of modern-day Azerbaijan was cemented March 16, 1921 in the Treaty of Moscow between Bolshevist Russia and Turkey. The agreement between the Soviet Russia and Turkey also called for attachment of the former Sharur-Daralagez uyezd (which had a solid Azeri majority) to Nakhchivan, thus allowing Turkey to share a border with the Azerbaijan SSR. This deal was reaffirmed on October 23, in the Treaty of Kars.

During the Soviet era, Nakhchivan saw a significant demographic shift. Its Armenian population gradually decreased as many emigrated to the Armenian SSR. In 1926, 15% of region's population was Armenian, but by 1979 this number had shrunk to 1.4%. The Azeri population, meanwhile increased substantially with both a higher birth rate and immigration (going from 85% in 1926 to 96% by 1979. The Armenian population saw a great reduction in their numbers throughout the years repatriating to Armenia.

Armenian claims to Nakhchivan

Some Armenian political groupings of the Republic of Armenia and the Armenian diaspora, amongst them most notably the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) claim that Nakhchivan should belong to Armenia. The ARF programme for example states: "The borders of United Armenia shall include all territories designated as Armenia by the Treaty of Sèvres as well as the regions of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), Javakhk, and Nakhchivan." [ [ Programme of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation] ]

However, Nakhchivan is not officially claimed by the government of Armenia. Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan reaffirmed this by stating that Armenia, as the legal successor to the Armenian SSR, is loyal to the Treaty of Kars and all agreements inherited by the former Soviet Armenian government.

But huge Armenian religious and cultural remnants are witness of the historic presence of Armenians in the Nakhcivan region (Nakichevan, sometimes Nakhijevan in Armenian).

Destruction of Armenian monuments in Nakhcivan

According to an Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), the Medieval Armenian cemetery of Jugha (Julfa) in Nakhchevan, regarded by Armenians as the biggest and most precious repository of medieval headstones marked with Christian crosses – khachkars (of which more than 2,000 were still there in the late 1980's), has completely vanished in 2006.

The European Parliament have taken an interest in the fate of the cemetery and passed a resolution in February 2006, condemning the destruction of the cemetery, but its delegation has not been allowed to visit the site itself. [ [ Azerbaijan: Famous Medieval Cemetery Vanishes, Institute for War & Peace Reporting, 2006] ]

Famous Armenians from Azerbaijan

*Hovhannes Bagramyan Army Commander, Marshal of the Soviet Union
*Hovannes Adamian, designer of color television
*Alexander Shirvanzade, playwright and novelist, awarded by the "People's Writer of Armenia" and "People's Writer of Azerbaijan" titles
*Boris Babaian, pioneering creator of supercomputers in the Soviet Union
*Armen Ohanian, an Armenian dancer, actress, writer and translator
*Alexey Ekimyan, composer and police general
*Garri Kasparov, grandmaster and world champion
*Albert Azaryan, Olympic champion
*Yevgeny Petrosyan, comedian
*Georgy Shakhnazarov, political scientist
*Rafael Kapreliants, Hero of the Soviet Union.

ee Also

*Kirovabad pogrom
*Pogrom of Armenians in Baku
*Sumgait pogrom


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