People’s Republic of Azerbaijan collapsed due to the military aggression of the Soviet Russia. Hence, the independent statehood of Azerbaijan was brought to an end in North Azerbaijan. On 28th of April in 1920, the establishment of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan (Azerbaijan SSR) in the territories of the People’s Republic of Azerbaijan was declared.
Following the occupation, the Soviet Russia immediately started abrogating the independent state management system created by the People’s Republic of Azerbaijan. Without delay, all authority of the country was instantly delivered straight to the Interim Revolutionary Committee and People’s Council of Commissars of Azerbaijan SSR. People’s Council of Commissars was chaired by Nariman Narimanov. Fearful of arousing popular anger and resentment, the occupiers had knowingly included only Azerbaijanis to the Interim Revolutionary Committee and People’s Council of Commissars. But, this pretentious act was in effect a pure window-dressing meant to disguise the actual situation in the country since the real power was at the hands of the Communist (Bolsheviks) Party of Azerbaijan (CPA) that had been formed in February of 1920. CPA had strongly connived with the Soviet aggressors in orchestrating the breakdown of the People’s Republic and invasion of Azerbaijan.
Communist Party of Azerbaijan was in fact an affiliate organ of the Communist (Bolsheviks) Party of Russia which was functioning on the direct orders issued by Moscow under the strict leadership of A.I.Mikoyan. The party cell was fundamentally composed of non-Azerbaijanis, particularly Armenians, Georgians and Russians. This is the primary reason why Armenians, Georgians and Russians and representatives of the other nationalities had found a favorable opportunity to play a specifically important role in the perpetration of atrocities against the Azerbaijani people such as the bloody massacre committed in March of 1918 and secretly conspire with the Soviet Russia in order to bring about the total occupation of Azerbaijan on 28th of April and accelerate the disestablishment of the state structures set up by the People’s Republic of Azerbaijan.
In order to destroy the state institutions created by the People’s Republic of Azerbaijan, special Revolutionary Committees with extraordinary powers were set up in each and every part of the country. The Bolsheviks were intentionally inciting clashes and disagreements among the different classes and instigating animosity in the society with the aim of rooting out the independent statehood traditions of Azerbaijan. Moreover, with the purpose of acquiring allegiance of the people, they had waged an extensive campaign of agitation to propagate on the proletariat-peasant issue. Exploiting the sentiments of the working class, they were constantly assuring the masses that the Soviet Russia would be a country where the sole source of power would lie with the proletariat.
But, the ostensibly convincing propaganda was extremely incongruous with the actual situation. On the contrary, every action was purposely directed at the extirpation of the independent statehood traditions and national awareness of the Azerbaijani people and establishment of the repressive communist dictatorship. The swift institution of the Revolutionary Committees all over Azerbaijan corroborates this fact by itself.
As a rule, all national central and provincial state structures were being systematically dismantled and steadily replaced with new law enforcement agencies of Bolsheviks. The national police forces were disbanded and supplanted by the special police units called worker-peasant police or “red police”. Along with this, Extraordinary Commission and Supreme Revolutionary Tribunal were instituted to regulate and monitor the observance of law in the country.
Extraordinary Commission and Supreme Revolutionary Tribunal possessed exclusive extraordinary powers and boundless authority unrestrained by any regulation or law. Any judgment delivered by these two establishments was automatically and unquestioningly executed. Under the name of fighting against the counterrevolutionary and subversive forces, the abovementioned organizations started carrying out notorious policy of repression and extermination against the leading intellectuals of Azerbaijan who were the only bearers of the independent statehood traditions and national consciousness ideals.
The torturous “red terror” had engulfed the whole country. Whoever attempted to put up an opposition or resistance against the reinforcement of the Bolshevik regime was immediately labeled and ostracized as treasonous, traitorous, perfidious, subversive, insurgent, or counterrevolutionary and swallowed up by the deluge of “red terror”.
In this way, the Soviet Russia had started perpetrating another atrocity against the Azerbaijani people. The only difference between this new slaughter and the massacre committed in March of 1918 was the alteration of targets. In contrast to the mass murder of March, this time the eminent statesmen of the People’s Republic of Azerbaijan, renowned generals and high-ranking officers of the National Army, distinguished intellectuals, leading thinkers, religious and literary figures, party leaders, political figures, famous scientists of the nation were specifically singled out for being killed. The Bolshevik-Dashnak faction was consciously implementing a well thought-out and premeditated policy of demolishing the main pillars of the Azerbaijani society in order to decapitate the whole nation once and for all. This new massacre aimed at incapacitating the entire nation was actually far more ruthless and monstrous butchery as compared to the mass murder of March. Furthermore, all this bloodshed was caused with the stealthy collusion of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan and conspiracy of the leadership of the Baku Committee without consent of the Interim Revolutionary Committee of Azerbaijan. Headed largely by the Armenian, Russian and Georgian slayers, the state structures regularly carrying out the orders of the special division of XI Red Army and red police as well as Extraordinary Commission and Supreme Revolutionary Tribunal were responsible for these horrible atrocities.
Orjonikidze, Kirov, Mikoyan, Sarkis, Mirzoyan, Lominadze, Yeqorov were the main Bolshevik- Dashnak executioners who had deviously masterminded the bloody massacres carried out against the leading members of the Azerbaijani people. The deceitful Armenians who had ensconced themselves in the state apparatus were particularly active in materialization of the “red terror” policy towards Azerbaijanis. Having installed themselves securely in law enforcement structures of the country, the cold-blooded Armenians were gunning down the Azerbaijanis on a massive scale. without any prior interrogation or trial. Taken as a whole, approximately 50 thousand selected members of the Azerbaijani people were pitilessly executed and shot down within a short span of only one year after the invasion of Azerbaijan on 28th of April in 1920.
While bringing the bloodcurdling policy of “red terror” to pass, the rapacious Bolshevik-Dashnak assassins were also greedily confiscating the properties and holdings of the people they were gunning down. Not sufficing with this, the opportunistic Bolsheviks had started pillaging the whole country voraciously. They were shamelessly plundering the possessions of the impoverished people and looting the goods of the indigents as well as stealing the valuable ornaments and precious personal effects bequeathed by past generations. Azerbaijanis were being arbitrarily dislodged from their houses which were later on given to Armenians, Russians and other non-Azerbaijanis. To put it shortly, the ravenous Bolshevik-Dashnak slaughterers were inflicting inconceivable tortures and insufferable agonies on the people of Azerbaijan through every possible line of attack.
Right after the occupation, the national armed forces of Azerbaijan were promptly submitted into subjection of the Red Army. The people were dispossessed of their army which was forcibly subjected to the direct authority and control of Moscow. Bereft of a national army, Azerbaijan lost its independence irretrievably at that time.
In order to blot out the independent statehood traditions and smother the spirit of national awareness amongst the Azerbaijani people, the iron-handed Bolshevik regime unleashed a ferocious attack towards the spiritual strength of the nation. In view of this repressive strategy, they started oppressing the Azerbaijani language as it was declared the official language of the People’s Republic of Azerbaijan and imposing strict restrictions on the preparation and training of national specialists and experts. The society was being subtly and insidiously impregnated with Russian beliefs and values. The continuous policy of assimilation and amalgamation was being carried out. All the different castes, civil and religious privileges were abolished along with various ranks. Even the use of words indicating status such as Bey, Khan, Agha was prohibited.
The religion was totally segregated from education and state management. The practice of religious rites and ceremonies was banned. The inclusion of religious studies in the academic curriculum of schools was outlawed and the religious schools were all shut down. Even the mosques and minarets of architectural value were decimated. In a word, the ages-old spiritual heritage and national culture of the Azerbaijani people had been subjected to a harsh assault because of the dreadful acts of Bolsheviks.
The creation of local committees for assistance to indigent people constituted an important aspect of the coercive state-building process in Azerbaijan. The committees ostensibly established for elimination of poverty were actually supposed to function as a foothold for Bolsheviks to aid them in exacerbating the standoff among the villagers and persecuting the so-called counterrevolutionary forces in provinces.
Soon after, the Revolutionary Committees and Committees for the Indigent People were replaced by local councils. The first congress of the nationwide councils convened on 6th of May in 1921 marked the completion of the full incorporation of North Azerbaijan to the Soviet Union. On 19th of May in 1921, the first constitution of Azerbaijan SSR was adopted. The constitution which was in fact a mere reproduction of the constitution of the Federal Republic of the Soviet Socialist Russia nominally promised extensive rights and perquisites to the people of Azerbaijan. But, since the councils were in reality governed by the leadership of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan who were implementing the direct orders of the Communist Party of Russia without any demur, the provisions enshrined in constitution carried only a cosmetic nature. Moreover, with ratification of the constitution, all political parties were banned in the country. In this way, the proletariat dictatorship was essentially converted to the party dictatorship. According to the constitution, the intellectuals and scholars of the country were disenfranchised of the right to participate in the elections to the councils under the cover of creating a pure worker-peasant government. All these laws and regulations which transferred the councils into subservient and compliant organs acquiescently executing the instructions of Moscow were actually meant to enslave the Azerbaijani people.
So, as a consequence of the gory slaughters of Bolsheviks accompanied with forcible measures, within a span of one year after the occupation, powerful constitutional governing bodies were instituted and soviet socialist democracy was established to all outward appearances. But, in contrast to the People’s Republic of Azerbaijan and its parliament, the newly-founded spurious democracy was in reality a superficial communist dictatorship.
But, even as a dictatorship, the communist government of Azerbaijan was not independent since it functioned only as a submissive vassal of Moscow. Whereas People’s Republic of Azerbaijan had reached to the level of being able to compete with the most developed and progressive states of the world in terms of secularism and democracy as it was a natural product of the centuries-old statehood practices and intellectual potential of the Azerbaijani people. That’s why the collapse of the People’s Republic of Azerbaijan and subsequent destruction of its state structures is considered to be one of the gravest tragedies in the history of Azerbaijan.
As soon as the Soviet rule was established in Azerbaijan, the avaricious communist regime immediately began squandering the wealth of the country in every possible way. The right to own private property in land was abolished. All the national resources were nationalized to be made state properties. In order to administer the oil industry a special Committee for Oil was set up. A.P.Serebrovski was appointed the head of this committee and sent to Baku by Lenin. Thus, Lenin’s old desire to gain control over Baku oil which he had explicitly declared in the telegram he had sent to the Military-Revolutionary Council of the Caucasus Front on 17th of March in 1920 was finally fulfilled. Lenin, the man who had ordered the invasion and occupation of North Azerbaijan had expressed this blatantly as follows: “Seizure of Baku is a must for us”.
After the oil industry, the nationalization of the Caspian trade merchant, fishing industry, all the functioning banks, as well as a series of other braches of economy ensued. As a matter of fact, the nationalization process was a heavy blow to the overall economy of Azerbaijan which had gathered pace during the period of late 19th century and early 20th century. Divesting the people of their due right to ownership on the natural resources of their own country eventually served to weaken the national consciousness for independence. The control of the industrial manufacture and management of economy were largely concentrated at the hands of Russians, Armenians, Jews and other non-Azerbaijanis. All the wealth of Azerbaijan was overexploited; particularly Baku oil was profusely extracted to be conveyed to Russia. This is the reason why Russia emerged from the energy crisis undamaged. North Azerbaijan had become the main supplier of fuel and raw material for Russia. Furthermore, the Russian army which had drowned the North Azerbaijan in a bloodbath subsisted on account of the Azerbaijani people.
The people such as Nariman Narimanov and his supporters who were trying to defend their much- loved nation despite the prevailing tough circumstances arising from the widespread mass murders and despoilments were blacklisted as nationalists and fully secluded from the governance of the country. Standing at the top of the government and determining the fate of the country, the Armenian-Russian- Georgian coalition was treating all the Muslims who held a spirit of freedom with deep distrust and suspicion. They were indeed trying to annul the titular independence of Azerbaijan and integrate it to the Federal Republic of the Soviet Socialist Russia as quickly as possible. Despite the enormous hindrances and difficulties, N.Narimanov managed to thwart this horrendous plan. But, this paid a heavy toll on him since soon after he was banished from Azerbaijan by the Bolshevik-Dashnak group due to his devoted partisanship and patriotic stance.
Nevertheless, the Bolshevik-Dashnak occupiers were unable to shatter the spirit of resistance among the defiant Azerbaijani people as easily as they had anticipated. On 25th and 26th of May in 1920, a strong armed uprising was mounted against the Bolshevik regime in the city of Ganja. Backed by the former national army units, the insurgents of Ganja repeatedly crushed the divisions of the XI Red Army that had launched violent attacks on them. The Ganja rebels inflicted grave defeats on the XI Red Army in a few days. That’s why new divisions were brought in to subdue the mutiny. The Armenians residing in Ganja and its peripheries Nariman Narimanov got armed and joined to help the belligerent government forces to vanquish the revolt completely. The insurgents incurred heavy losses in the combat operations that had penetrated almost into every street and house in the city. Hundreds of people were martyred in ferocious fights. On 31st of May, Ganja was entirely subjugated and taken over by the government forces. During the following three days, the city was subjected to a severe carnage and ransacking by the wolfish Bolshevik- Dashnak mobsters.
After the Ganja rebellion, the occupiers were faced with a fierce resistance in Karabakh. Likewise, the uprising was brutally quashed with the vigorous involvement of the Armenian-Dashnak forces and the people were wreaked great havoc on as in Ganja.
On 6th of June, the people of Zakatala also waged a life and death struggle against the invaders. The insurgents captured the fort of the city and seized the Kakh district successively. The whole region was immersed in the fiery and indomitable revolt against the brutal Bolshevik regime. Confronting the XI Red Army units valiantly, the rebel forces won repeated victories over the armed government divisions. But, having been reinforced with additional military forces, the XI Red Army units finally overcame the doughty insurgents and took the control over Zakatala on 18th of June.
The Ganja, Karabakh and Zakatala rebellions were followed by numerous other insurgencies. The spirit of unruly defiance and insubordination had enveloped the whole country. The districts of Shamkir, Kuba, Davachi, Kusar, Lankaran, Astara, Kurdustan, Javanshir, Kutkashin, Khachmaz, Nakhichevan, Ordubad, Sharur had put up a strong resistance against the occupation of Azerbaijan. Even the women and children were fearlessly taking part in the unyielding fights against the XI Red Army units in Shamkir.
That the entire nation stood up to defend their country unanimously and expel the invaders by mounting a formidable resistance movement and insurrectionary operations is a clear proof to the fact that annihilation of the spirit of freedom and independent statehood traditions of the Azerbaijani people was not as easy as Bolsheviks had expected. Fearing the escalation of the daunting resistance movement, the Soviet government decided to deploy new additional military forces to Azerbaijan which foreshadowed further tragedies for the long-suffering people of Azerbaijan.
The most atrocious crime that the Bolshevik government committed against the Azerbaijani people at the time of invasion was to encourage and facilitate the occupation of the ancient Azerbaijani lands by Armenians. Like Tsarist Russia, the Bolshevik regime was similarly pursuing the same stealthy policy of smoothing the way for the expansion of the Armenian state on account of the territories belonging to Azerbaijan. To achieve this goal, the Bolshevik Russia was artfully resorting to every mendacity and provocation to sever connections between Azerbaijan and Turkey by setting them at odds.
The Armenians who had achieved the partition of Yerevan from Azerbaijan and declared it as their capital during the rule of the People’s Republic recommenced their aggressive activities by making unjustified territorial claims to Azerbaijan. This time, the Dashnak Armenians were trying to annex more lands to Armenia by occupying the regions of Nakhichevan, Zangazur, Sharur-Daralayaz and Nagorno Karabakh.
Heartened and emboldened by Bolsheviks, the Dashnak Armenian butchers were perpetrating sanguinary massacres and ravaging hundreds of villages in Azerbaijan. Hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis were displaced from their homelands. The Armenians had readily accepted the integration to the Soviet system and Bolshevik rule in order to be able to appropriate the Western Azerbaijani territories in return. The opportunistic and self-serving Bolsheviks couldn’t have opposed such an offer since this sort of bargaining was advantageously beneficial for the Bolshevik occupiers as well.
But, this criminal deal had spurred harsh resistance and protestation in Nakhichevan. The courageous people of Nakhichevan staunchly opposed this conspiracy and withstood the Bolsheviks successfully. Thanks to the support of brotherly Turkey as well, the Dashnak Armenians were unable to realize their plan to capture Nakhichevan.
Nonetheless, on 10th of August in 1920 the ancient region of Sharur-Daralayaz was laid at Armenians’ feet by Bolsheviks without prior consent or endorsement of the Azerbaijani people. Such a munificent gift enticed the Dashnak Armenians into more furious struggle for annexing Nakhichevan, Zangazur and Nagorno Karabakh to Armenia. Therefore, after the occupation of Sharur-Daralayaz, Armenians embarked on the invasion of Zangazur with the backing of the XI Red Army. The invasion ended with the incorporation of the Southern-western Zangazur (Mehri) into Armenia and consequent detachment of Nakhichevan from the rest of Azerbaijan geographically. By taking control over Mehri, Armenia in fact gained an access to Iran. This enabled the Dashnak Armenians to maintain close relationship and strategic partnership with Iran.
Under the constant pressures of Orjonikidze and Kirov, the infamous slayers and executioners of the Azerbaijani people, Armenians succeeded in getting the decision on the annexation of the region of Nagorno Karabakh to Armenia passed in the plenum of the Caucasus Committee of the Communist Party of Russia on 4th of July in 1921. But, because of the rigorous opposition and expostulation of N.Narimanov, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Russia interfered and invalidated the decision by repealing it abruptly. Following the nullification of this decision, on 5th of July the Caucasus Committee adopted new decision on the preservation of Nagorno Karabakh within the territory of Azerbaijan. This statement granted a broad self- autonomy status to Nagorno Karabakh with Shusha as its capital. Although Armenians could not fulfill their old desire to achieve a complete disunion of Karabakh from Azerbaijan, by attaining self- autonomy they actually further reinforced their positions in this region of Azerbaijan.
However, the schemes plotted by Armenians and Bolsheviks to secure control over Nakhichevan were disrupted thanks to the apt and timely intervention of Turkey. The unwavering and resolute standpoint of Turkey resulted in signing of the Moscow contract between Turkey and Russia on 16th of March in 1921 which enforced the autonomy of Nakhichevan within Azerbaijan. According to the terms of the agreement, Nakhichevan was by no means authorized to compromise its self-autonomy status to the third country. The Kars accord which was signed between Turkey and Southern Caucasus Republics on 13th of October in 1921 reconfirmed the status of Nakhichevan as self-autonomous. Therefore, Bolsheviks could not hand over Nakhichevan to Armenians as they had promised. Thenceforth, the city that was referred to as the “Gateway of the Turks” by M.K.Ataturk remained within the boundaries of Azerbaijan for good.
It’s necessary to underline that the Bolsheviks were resorting to all deceitful means of demagogy and agitation in order to keep the entire Islamic Eastern world under the influence and dominance of the Soviet Russia. The Bolsheviks were extremely diplomatic and delicate in promulgating their guileful intentions under the slogan of “converting Azerbaijan into a thriving and blossoming soviet socialist country” at the doorway of the East. But, observing the ongoing processes in Azerbaijan, the Eastern countries soon came to apprehend the quintessence of the actual Russian policy aimed at the ensnarement and entrapment of the Eastern nations under the devious propaganda of egalitarian society. This was the main reason why the formal independence of Azerbaijan was annulled soon after. Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia were confederated into the united state under the name of Federal Soviet Socialist Republic of Southern Caucasus. This fusion created a favorable opportunity for the Georgian-Armenian leadership of the confederacy to exploit the natural resources and economic potential of Azerbaijan in order to boost the development and growth of their own countries.
Amalgamation of the three Caucasian countries into such a confederation actually served to legitimize the national and religious discrimination policy carried out against the Azerbaijani people in South Caucasus. The incorporation of Azerbaijan into the Soviet Socialist Republic of Russia as a confederate member of the Federal Soviet Socialist Republic of Southern Caucasus on 30th of December in 1922 actually meant the complete abolition of the nominal independence of Azerbaijan.
As soon as Azerbaijan was integrated into the SSRR, destructive utilization of natural resources and overexploitation of the country grew deeper in all senses. Azerbaijan was subjected to more ruinous and heightened national colonialism policy during the years of 1920-1930. With the establishment of the new socialist economy, implementation of the one-sided industrialization and forcible collectivization programs made the economy of Azerbaijan entirely dependent on the central government. The policy formulated and carried out on the direct orders of the central government was in fact calculatedly designed for bringing the economy of Azerbaijan into subordination of Russian economy. The principal goal of this policy was to convert Azerbaijan into the main supplier of raw material and secondary manufacturing power not capable of functioning in an independent and self-regulating way.
The attacks on the national-spiritual heritage and cultural values of the people of Azerbaijan had been stepped up as well. By and large, the preparation and training of national experts was artificially curtailed or immensely prevented. The immigration of Russians, Armenians, Jews and other nationalities from abroad in large numbers was promoted and expedited through encouragements and incentives such as guarantees for an appropriate employment and accommodation with luxurious apartments in the most affluent districts of Baku.
The policy of assimilation and absorption of the Russian-Armenian values was carried out blatantly. This process was especially set in motion in the capital city of Baku under the name of cosmopolitanism. The Azerbaijani language was subjected to severe pressures and oppressions by the government. The Russian language had been declared the official language of the state. The insidious policy of distributing the territories of Azerbaijan among the neighboring countries was carried on in full force at this period.
On 7th of June in 1923, yielding to the constant pressures of Orjonikidze and Kirov who were relying on the support of Stalin, the Central Executive Committee of Azerbaijan declared the creation of the Autonomous Province of Nagorno Karabakh within the Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan. On 27th of June in 1923, the plenum of the Country Committee of the South Caucasus of the Communist party of Russia ratified the decision on the autonomy of Nagorno Karabakh passed by the Caucasus Committee of the Communist Party of Russia on 5th of June in 1921. This decision paved the way for Armenians and their Russian benefactors to set the grounds for laying new territorial claims against Azerbaijan in future.
Due to the judicious intervention and well-timed assistance of Turkey the legal status of Nakhichevan had been determined as self-autonomous and integral part of Azerbaijan by the accord which was signed between Turkey and Russia. That’s why Armenians were rendered powerless in realizing their schemes about the annexation of Nakhichevan to Armenia. On 9th of February in 1924, the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of Nakhichevan was created within Azerbaijan. Nevertheless, the Bolsheviks hadn’t given up the perfidious policy of expanding the Armenian territories on account of the lands belonging to Azerbaijan. Therefore, three villages of the Zangilan province were bestowed to Armenians in 1929. Availing this opportunity, Georgians seized the Azerbajani lands on the right bank of the Kanik (Alazan) river and annexed them to Georgia.
The implementation of forcible collectivization starting from late 1920, coercive confiscation and embezzlement of all the property of the people, violent policy of complete and indiscriminate annihilation in order to wipe out the kulak class from society added up and wore the patience of the Azerbaijani people thin.
The country was once again enwrapped by a harsh resistance movement which had spread through the regions of Shekhi, Zakatala, Nakhichevan, Khizi, Shamkir, Cabrayil and others.
The strongest of these rebellions took place in the village of Koynuk of Shekhi district in 1930. The people of Koynuk overthrew the Soviet rule in the village and marched towards Shekhi. After the insurgents seized the power in Shekhi, the people of the neighboring village, Zayzid mounted an uprising as well and joined the rebels in Shekhi. Thus, the Soviet rule was completely toppled in Shekhi. In order to squelch the rebellion the XI Red Army units were brought in to the city. Despite the fierce resistance of the insurgents, the reinforced regular army forces quelled the revolt and captured Shekhi. The people of Shekhi were gunned down on a massive scale within a few days. Having ensconced themselves securely in the Extraordinary Committee, the Armenians had played an active role in the slaughter of the Shekhi people as well. Executed mercilessly before the eyes of the people without any interrogation or trial, the corpses of the insurgents of Koynuk were crammed into the shafts dug by the rebels themselves. In this way, the Armenians took vengeance for the Dashnaks who had been unable to exert their influence and control over Shekhi in 1918 due to the renitence and reluctance of the people of Koynuk to be swayed by aggressors and occupiers. Later on, the mass grave of the Koynuk insurgents, especially the grave of Turk Ahmed, one of the main leaders of the rebellion was converted to a consecrated shrine symbolizing the resistance movement of the Azerbaijani people against the Soviet rule.
Fearing the growth of the nationwide resistance movement and arousal of the strengthened national awareness, towards the end of 1930s, the Soviet regime started exercising more repressive and authoritarian rule in Azerbaijan. Sumbatov, Grigoryan, Markaryan, Malyan and other Armenian-Dashnak slayers who had settled themselves firmly in the leadership of Azerbaijan under the masquerade of communists had virtually started purging Azerbaijan of Azerbaijanis, more precisely of the Azerbaijani Turks. The chief executers of the “cleansing” policy machinated and orchestrated by the same Armenian leadership were Armenians themselves since they were the main authorities in the central and provincial structures of the intelligence and internal security agencies of the Soviet Union, namely KGB and NKVD. In more than half of the districts which equaled to almost two third of the overall number of the districts of Azerbaijan, it was Armenians who held the sway in the local NKVD structures.
Thus, the Bolsheviks were persistently continuing the historical policy of Russia to exterminate Azerbaijanis trough using Armenians, but this time with new tactics and new maneuvers due to the changed circumstances. Under the cover of denunciation and inculpation of the treasonous people, sham criminal acts were concocted and fake trials were conducted along with fabricated cross-examinations and punitive measures which were deliberately contrived to execute and exile tens of thousands of the Azerbaijani people. The number of people subjected to the deathly repressive acts only in 1937 surpassed 29 thousand. It was not a coincidence that most of the victimized people were the leading thinkers and scholars of Azerbaijan who posed a great threat to the very existence of the Soviet Union. Banishment of the eminent literary and intellectual figures such as Hussein Javid, Mikayil Mushviq, Ahmed Javad, Salman Mumtaz, Ali Nazmi, Tagi Shahbazi and hundreds of other academics from Azerbaijan was an irreparable loss for the country. The intellectual potential of the people was barbarously ruined through annihilation of its honorable and conscientious personalities. This was a very heavy blow to Azerbaijan with a lasting impact that prolonged throughout an extensive period of time since it left indelibly deep marks on the conscience of the people for decades.
The late 1930s saw the rapid intensification of oppression against the entire Azerbaijani nation. The Armenians who were arbitrarily persecuting and maltreating the Azerbaijanis residing in Western Azerbaijan drew tens of thousand of Azerbaijanis out of their ancient homelands at that time.
In the same way as Shaumyan had connived with Andronik to perpetrate bloody massacres against the Azerbaijani people at the time, having usurped power in Baku the Armenian-Dashnak group was similarly colluding with the Party leadership of Armenia in order to mastermind new slaughter plots in Azerbaijan. Relying on the backing and support of Stalin, the Dashnak Armenians were enjoying an unbridled authority all over Azerbaijan. At the order of the Armenian-Dashnak group, thousands of the South Azerbaijani people who were residing in Baku were forcibly deported to Iran. The hostile act of expulsion was craftily premeditated by Armenians with the intention of subjecting the compatriots of Azerbaijanis to the new suppressions and persecutions of the despotic Iranian monarchy. The tyrannical rule of the Iranian Kingdom regime had forced them to flee to North Azerbaijan. So for saving their lives and earning a livelihood, they had run off to Baku. By deporting them back to Iran with the conspiracy of Armenians, the Russian colonialists were in fact secretly cooperating with the reactionary Iranian regime against the Azerbaijani people. The ulterior motive of the expansionist Russian imperialists was to clean North Azerbaijan of Azerbaijanis and eventually annex the territories of Azerbaijan to the RSRSR. The apportionment of certain territories among the Armenian and Georgian chauvinists was naturally included in this plan.
The national leader of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev has expressed his views on the oppressive polices of the Soviet rule as follows: “The repressions carried out during the years of 1937- 1938 has wreaked great havoc on the intellectual, cultural and scientific development of Azerbaijan. More than 50 thousand people have been executed and other 100 thousand people have been banished from their motherland and exiled to Siberia and Kazakhstan. Distinguished personalities such as Hussein Javid, Mikayil Mushviq, Tagi Shahbazi, Salman Mumtaz have been coldly destroyed during this era”.
Along with mass murders and widespread banishments the national-spiritual and cultural values of the Azerbaijani people were being systematically obliterated as well. Under the alleged reason of preventing the dissemination of Panturkism and Panislamism, the Soviet regime had launched an extensive propaganda of distortion and misrepresentation of the historical truths in Azerbaijan by labeling the national-spiritual values and moral beliefs of the people as the outdated remnants of the past. Even the national musical instruments of Azerbaijan were branded as obsolete and banned under the pretext of “artistic evolution”. In order to agitate contempt and disdain against religion, special associations called “Society of the Godless” started to function at every turn. Under the cover of “creating a civilization nationalist in form and socialist in essence” everything embodying the national-spiritual precepts of the Azerbaijani people was annihilated one by one. Replacement of the alphabet with the Cyrillic was a huge impediment for the Azerbaijani people in terms of intellectual and academic progress since the people had not yet grown fully accustomed to the Latin alphabet adopted after the abolition of the old Arabic script. This hasty change was purposely designed to disconnect the people of Azerbaijan from the vast historical treasure of national- spiritual wealth and cut off all relations with the past mirrored in the documented facts of history. This was also a dreadful manifestation of the prejudiced and biased policy carried out discriminately against the Azerbaijani and other Turkish-Islamic nations. The fact that the alphabet change was not introduced in the neighboring Christian countries verifies the unjust and bigoted attitude of the Soviet Russia towards Azerbaijanis and other Muslims.
During the vicious repressions of 1920 and 1930s, thousands of talented and capable Azerbaijanis were forced to flee from their country and seek a political refuge in different foreign countries in order not to languish in the KGB prisons. Majority of them were the people who were struggling to emancipate their downtrodden motherland from the torturous prison of the Bolshevik-Dashnak rule and restore the independence of Azerbaijan. The National Center of Azerbaijan formed and headed by M.A.Rasulzade played an important role in cohesion of the political emigrants at one united front.
Neither Bolsheviks, nor the Armenian-Georgian chauvinists who were carrying out the South Caucasus policy of the Soviet Russia could have eradicated the national-spiritual existence of the Azerbaijani people notwithstanding the atrocious repressions and bloody massacres they were committing since the freedom ideals strengthened by the willpower to rule instead of being ruled were overflowing in the soul of every spirited Azerbaijani. This wasn’t the first time that the people of Azerbaijan had faced such a difficult ordeal. The courageous people of Azerbaijan had repeatedly emerged victorious from the whirlpool of trials and tribulations in history. The nation that had bred and reared such illustrious and valiant personalities as Javid, Mushvik and Ahmed Javad could not have been exterminated as easily as Bolsheviks had thought.
Even the constant persecutions and harassments of the heavy-handed Soviet regime in 1920-1930s could not stifle the innovative spirit of the resourceful Azerbaijani people in terms of creativity and ingenuity. Azerbaijan outpaced all the other Soviet countries in growth and performance in the socialist world. Since Azerbaijan was the main supplier of fuel for the gigantic empire of the SSSR, the oil industry of the country boomed rapidly. As an oil academy of the SSSR, Baku started living its flourishing days. New industrial enterprises were launched, power stations were built, roads and channels were constructed, and bridges were put up. Different branches of manufacturing, industry, agriculture and culture started expanding in a high speed. Illiteracy was completely eliminated. An all-encompassing network of educational institutions, scientific research centers, medical-health clinics and cultural-enlightenment societies of all levels was created. There were 16 universities and 18 running theaters in the country during the II World War. Formation of the separate branch of the Science Academy of the SSSR in Azerbaijan in 1938 was a significant event in the academic life of the country. The cultural and artistic activities were also revivified throughout the country.
During the II World War, the Azerbaijani people displayed an exceptional bravery and heroism both in the battlegrounds and antifascist guerilla movements in various European countries. More than 600 thousand Azerbaijani soldiers were enlisted and mobilized for the war. Approximately, 170 thousand of them were rewarded with the highest medals and honorary degrees and 130 of them were granted the title of “Hero of the Soviet Union” for their feats and exploits in the war. During the war, for the first time in the military history, technologically sophisticated production of the aviation petroleum with high concentration of octane was initiated under the guidance of the renowned scientist of Azerbaijan Yusif Mammadaliyev in Baku. The Baku oil played a vitally decisive role in the war. That is to say, if it hadn’t been for the fuel provided by Baku, the Soviet forces wouldn’t have been able to win the war. Having positioned themselves securely in Kremlin, the double-dealing Armenian-Dashnak group had availed the unrest and disquietude of the II World War to plot new insidious schemes against the Azerbaijani people. But, their plans to drive the Azerbaijani people Samad Vurgun out of their homeland failed. II World War had once again proved that the intrepid people of Azerbaijan were resilient enough to come out of even the most difficult and trying crucible as triumphant and glorious. Large contribution of Azerbaijan to the victory in the war gave a boost to the browbeaten Azerbaijani people and greatly increased their lowered sense of self-confidence and adequacy in the following years.
Even after the II World War, repressions were continued against the Azerbaijani people both in North and South Azerbaijan. The National Government created in South Azerbaijan on 12th of December in 1945 was an outstanding expression of the national liberation movement of the Azerbaijani people against the reactionary monarchial regime in Iran. The painstaking struggle of S. J. Pishevari, the leader of the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan and his dedicated associates had finally resulted in establishment of the National Government of Azerbaijan. The role of the complex internal and international circumstances cannot be underestimated in the events leading up to the formation of the National Government.
Mir Jafar Pishevari (formerly Javadzadeh Khalkhali) was born in 1982 in Khalkhal, a city of eastern Azerbaijan located near the Caspian Sea. In 1905, he left Iran and went to Baku with his father who was seeking employment in the Caucasian oilfields. Pishevari started his career as a journalist in 1917 when he contributed an article to Achiq Soz (The Divulged Word), an Azerbaijani language newspaper which was published in Baku.
From 1922, after his second return to Iran, Pishevari resided in Tehran, where he became actively involved in the country’s newly born trade union movement and founded the newspaper Haqiqat (Truth) which was associated with this movement.
On 12 December of 1945, with seventy-five of its one hundred and one deputies present, the Milli Majlis of Azerbaijan (the National Assembly of Azerbaijan) was officially opened in Tebriz.
The National Government of Azerbaijan was the name which the Milli Majlis officially adopted to designate the totality of the governmental offices of executive power in the province. This complex of executive powers, which included the military as well as the political substructure, was defined as “entirely separate from the legislative power”, the latter being embodied in the National Assembly of Azerbaijan. This executive power was exercised by a Dowlat (State) which was known as the Azerbaijan Milli Hokumeti.
Pishevari was appointed by the Majlis as Bash Vezir (Prime Minister) and invited to form cabinet and propose it to the Majlis for their approval. The members of the cabinet he formed were: Javid (Interiior), Kaviyan (PeopPs Army), Mahtash (Agriculture), Biriya (Culture), Orangi (Health), Elhami (Finance), Azima (Justice), Kabiri (Roads/Posts/ Telegraph and Telephone) and Rasuli (Trade and Economy). Furthermore, Pishevari appointed Qiyami as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Azerbaijan and made Fereydun Ebrahimi Prosecutor General of Azerbaijan.
Once the National Government was established, it went on to publish a program containing twenty separate articles. After reiterating its “commitment to Iranian independence and territorial integrity” and its desire “not to act to the detriment of Iran’s sovereignty”, the National Government of Azerbaijan went on to declare its intention to carry out a series of changes and reforms in Azerbaijan.
By way of winning popular support in Azerbaijan, the National Government set about putting into effect a series of reforms, many of which the DPA had promised in its early program. The most important of these were land reforms.
As early as 8 January, 1946, the national assembly of Azerbaijan passed bills which regulated the electoral procedure affecting the provincial, district, regional and municipal councils. According to these bills, for the first time in Iranian history, women had the right to stand for office in an election.
On 12th of December in 1946, just one year after it had been established, the Democrats’ rule in Azerbaijan came to an end. Ironically, this was the date on which the anniversary celebrations were set to take place in commemoration of “the glorious day when the government of the province had been placed in the hands of the people”.
As a result, during the early days of chaos which followed upon the arrivals of the government troops in Azerbaijan, a great number of lives were lost and a mass migration to Soviet Azerbaijan took place. Whereas on the eve of the collapse of the national government only a few of the DPA leaders were advised to leave the country, in the days that followed there was a mass exodus of upwards of 15000 people. Pishevari was one of those people who left the country.
The controversy over Pishevari’s life is not confined to his early career. The manner of his death has occasioned heated disputes among the old guard of the DPA, as well as among scholars of Soviet history who are specialists on Stalin’s period. Pishevari’s death occurred in Soviet Azerbaijan in 1947, one year after the fall of the national government of Azerbaijan and the flight of the ADF leadership. The Soviet authorities officially reported his death as the result of a car accident. There are, however, well-informed sources which maintain that Pishevari was murdered by agents of Stalin-Bagirov in the hospital where he was taken after the car accident.
The opportunist Armenian nationalists who were reigning in Kremlin at the time had initiated the mass deportation of the Azerbaijani people from their ancient homelands in Western Azerbaijan under the downright support and espousal of Stalin-Bariya-Mikoyan trio. This process had assumed a special magnitude during the years of 1948-1953. After expulsion of the Azerbaijani people, Armenians took numerical precedence in Western Azerbaijan territories and strengthened their standing there.
Author: Yagub Mahmudlu
Source: AZERBAIJAN: SHORT HISTORY OF STATEHOOD
Translated by: Nigar Madatli
Edited by: Dr. Eynulla Madatli