Pages 58-63

by Ziya Bunyadov

Although modern Azerbaijani history is linked to the historical development of a globalizing world, it has its own unique features. The Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagornyy Karabagh confl ict has left deep scars here. Unfortunately, military aggression against Azerbaijan is accompanied by ideological provocation and, as with the ancient, so certain pages of its modern history are also being distorted. These include the Sumqayit events that took place in February 1988. Every year, on the anniversary of these events, anti- Azerbaijani propaganda intensifies.
The article we present here to readers, entitled “Why Sumqayit” was written in 1989 by academician Ziya Bunyadov (Newsletter of the Academy of Sciences of the Azerbaijan SSR. Series of History, Philosophy and Law, 1989. No 2, pp. 115 – 121). This article written 20 years ago appears relevant today. Sometimes individual sections of this article are taken in isolation but the importance of the article lies in its overall conception and historical dynamic. This is why we are presenting this article to our readers with comments by our editorial adviser, Dr. Karim Shukurov.

Several days ago I learnt from the republic’s press about the barbaric acts that have taken place in Armenia - the destruction of the monument to the great poet Samad Vurgun[1] and the desecration of the grave of the ashig genius, Alasgar[2]. These atrocities were undoubtedly committed by extremists. I have always said, and continue to say, that one cannot ascribe something done by a handful of rogues to all the Armenian people. My Yerevan-based colleague, Professor P. Muradyan, recently sent me an article by A. Oganesyan entitled “Watershed”, printed by “Kommunist”, the publication of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Armenia, on 2 November 1988. He attached a note to it saying “for the consideration of Academician Buynadov”.

In relating the course of a trial in Moscow of the criminal case against Ahmad Ahmadov, Ismayil Ismayilov and Yavar Cafarov, A. Oganesyan off ers his own interpretation of the events in Sumqayit[3], relating and linking them to the past of the Armenian people. And although A. Oganesyan turns to Azerbaijani intellectuals and calls on them to respond to what happened in Sumqayit in February 1988, he immediately and dogmatically rejects the possibility, saying: “We do not need a response. We know the response”.

Still, despite such a judgment, I will try to give an impartial analysis of what happened in Sumqayit and answer the question as to why it happened, and not just anywhere, not in Karabagh, where it might have been expected that something like this could happen after the killing of two Agdam-based men[4] by Armenian police. Not in another town, indeed, but precisely in Sumqayit – a town founded upon a rosy premise, as a symbol of friendship between the two peoples - about which a host of books and dissertations have been written.

Really – how could something like this happen in our country, in the eighth decade[5] of its existence? How come? After all, for many years and decades now all we have done is talk at different levels about the friendship of peoples declared by Lenin and Stalin[6], about friendship forever; we’ve established houses of friendship between peoples and even invented the “Friendship of Peoples” Order. This must have annoyed someone, otherwise why replace “Barekamutyan” with Bagramyan? One should not blame, in the usual formula, “dark forces” for the Sumqayit massacre, rather than an enemy which was allegedly responding to the powerful and fair demand to incorporate Nagornyy Karabagh into Armenia (although the slogan is diff erent now – incorporate Armenia into Nagornyy Karabagh).

But why have the dark (this is the only way I can describe them) revenge-seeking Armenian forces, which are fighting for, and laying claim to, some mythical “Armenian land between the three seas – the Black, Mediterranean and Caspian”, raised their heads today? After all, Armenian statehood was eliminated in the year 387[7], i.e. exactly 1,600 years ago.

Armenian statehood disappeared because of the constant squabbles and disputes between the families of Artsruni, Bagratuni, Mamikonyan, Amatuni, Bznuni and other Sparapets, Azarapets, Malkhaz, Tanuters, and Katapans who claimed royal blood. It was during the liquidation of Armenia as a state in the fourth century that “Histories of Armenia” by Byuzand, Agafangel, Parbski and Khorenski[8] appeared as recollections of the past. Subsequent Armenian historians: Artsruni, Sebeos, Asogik, Taronski, Vardan, Aniyski, Arakel, Anonim and others, now wrote histories of competing families, wars, a history of the Arabs, Persians etc., mentioning only in passing the lands on which Armenians once lived or live. Actually, these were like “tears” for the past. But one theme ran through all the “histories” – all foreigners robbed ordinary Armenian people in the same way, but the Armenian rulers and clergy always enjoyed privileges. By enriching foreign rulers made hay and themselves rich with equal success. Always!

A corresponding member of the Russian imperial academy, Professor Keropa Patkanyan[9], wrote that Аrmenia had never played a particular role in the history of mankind. This was not a political term, but the name of a geographical zone across which settlements of Armenians were scattered. Armenians were always bad masters of the land they inhabited, but they served their strong neighbours skillfully.

That is what Patkanyan said. One cannot agree with the description by the Armenian professor of his own people but if we turn to the times of the Seljuk[10] conquests in the Near and Middle East, we see that only Armenians enjoyed fully the rights of a privileged nation. It was not for nothing that medieval Armenian authors write about the “Christ-loving” Seljuk sultans who allowed Armenians to build churches and engage in free enterprise. Armenians were also well off during the rule of the Atabays of Azerbaijan, under the Ilkhanids, Jalayirids, the Gara Goyunlu and Ag Goyunlu sultans, under the Safavids (except for the initial years of the rule of Shah Abbas I) and under the Kajars[11]. Armenians also had no reason to complain about the Ottoman sultans, who were always, according to Armenian chronicles, tolerant of Armenians and allocated troops to the Echmiadzin clergy to guard their dominions and property. Armenians, at least the privileged layers, did not have bad lives during the rule of the last Ottoman sultan, Abdulhamid II[12].

Everything changed after the establishment of the “Dashnaktsutyun”[13] party, which was headed by representatives of the Armenian comprador bourgeoisie, whose leading representatives were favourites of Abdulhamid II - the famous Akop-pasha and Nubar-pasha. The former was the sultan’s personal treasurer and the latter (a native of Karabagh) was even a vizier.

The first time that Turkey and Europe learned of Armenian nationalistic organizations was in 1885. Gatherings of future Armenian Dashnak groups took place in France, the UK, Austria and other countries. They established their first ever committee at these gatherings; it was founded in London. In the early 20th century, a society called the “Saviours of the Armenian Community” was set up in Turkey and its Dashnak leaders, like the present-day “Asala”, “Krunk”, Karabagh” etc, forcibly collected money from the Armenian population of Turkey, “in the name of salvation”. From 1895-96 these Armenian committees created an atmosphere in Turkey which very quickly provoked mutual alienation between citizens of the state – Turks and Armenians. From that time onwards, this alienation was progressively stoked up by the Dashnaks. As for Armenian spiritual circles in Turkey - which enjoyed great privileges – their representatives did everything to assist the seeds of enmity to sprout and to promote further hatred of the state which fed the Armenians on its land.

It was in those years that, under the influence of the “Cry of the Armenians”, the “Armenian issue” emerged in the West. A huge number of Armenian strugglers and manipulative demagogues appeared who, without a twinge of conscience or a blush, complained in all the backyards of Europe about their Turkish oppressors.

This stir was aroused by Armenian nationalists following Turkey’s defeat in the Balkans and on the eve of the seizure of Kars, Erzerum, Bitlis and Van by tsarist troops. The Dashnaks assumed that, pushed by the tsarists, the Turks would leave their native homes and that they would come into huge wealth. In order to draw the Armenian working population of Turkey into their vile schemes, the Dashnak leadership carried out villainous actions like killing their own kind to lay the blame on the Turks. Kindling interethnic slaughter in Turkey, the Dashnaks hoped very much that Istanbul would be occupied by the allies and that this would enable them to achieve their far-reaching goals.

The foregoing is taken from reports by the Russian consul general in Van, Bitlis and Erzurum, General Mayevskiy[14]. This was in response to the year 1895, mentioned by A. Oganesyan. Reports by Russian generals Nikolayev, dated 1 July 1915, and Bolkhovitinov, dated 9 July 1915, addressed to Count Vorontsov-Dashkov[15], could serve as a response to another date mentioned by this writer, namely 1915. Both of these generals described very accurately the terror and atrocities committed by the Armenian Dashnak chetniks Tero and Khecho against civilian Turks. Sabotage in the Russian military rear in Van, committed by Armenian Dashnak chetniks, resulted in the Russian command ordering that they be simply shot dead.

Then in January 1917, when Russian troops had left Trabzon, Erzurum and Bitlis, Dashnak chetniks carried out a real slaughter of the civilian Turkish population. There is evidence of this in reports by generals Przhevalski and Odishelidze. The last “historical” novel by Sero Khanzadyan, in which he cries about the Armenians who were allegedly killed in Erzincan in February 1918, reeked of Dashnak impudence and insolence. In fact, it was all the other way round. Reports by General Odishedlize and the recollections of Russian General Staff Lt-Col Tverdokhlebov are clear documents testifying to atrocities by Dashnak chetniks commanded by Murat Sivasetsi in Erzincan. Almost all the inhabitants of Erzincan (or, as Khanzadyan calls it, Yerzynka) were driven by Dashnaks to the square in front of the Armenian church and into nearby houses, where they were slaughtered and burnt. In order to shift the blame for these atrocities in Erzincan and nearby villages from themselves, all the Dashnak subunits wore Russian army uniforms. The Dashnaks committed the same kind of mass atrocities in Sarikamish (reports by Sotniks Morozov and Kazimir). But the cruelest and bloodiest gangster was certainly the one-eared chetnik Andranik, whose actions in Erzerum were described in such detail by Lt-Col Tverdokhlebov[16].

A report by a Russian official, Doctor Khoreshenko, dated 21 May 1918 is an illuminating document about the bloody slaughter committed by Dashnaks in Akhalkalaki and nearby villages, where they slaughtered several hundred Azerbaijanis. “Such are the atrocities of the civilized Armenians of the 20th century,” Doctor Khoreshenko exclaims.

Exactly 70 years ago the Dashnaks also carried out a massacre in Baku[17]. Gangs led by T. Amiryan, Shaumyan and Lalayan slaughtered over 10,000 Azerbaij anis in Baku and looted and burnt many dwellings and buildings in the city. The building housing the “Charity Society” (Jamiyyet-i Kheyriyya), currently occupied by the Academy of Sciences, was burnt down, too. Only intervention by Alesha Japaridze[18] prevented further atrocities. However, the Dashnaks moved from Baku to Shemakha, where they carried out even greater blood-soaked and evil actions. In 1920, the Dashnak gangs of the one-eared Andranik and Amazasp, incited by Mikoyan, went on a robbing spree from Baku and Khoy via Zangazur to Karabagh, slaughtering the civilian Azerbaijani population. These gangs were routed by Azerbaijani troops near Asgaran[19].
Now let’s get back to the present day.

In 1921, the Soviet authorities granted Armenians the statehood that they had lost in the 4th century[20], and the Armenians have now enjoyed the same rights as the citizens of the other 14 Soviet republics for 68 years[21].

All the difficulties and joys experienced by the peoples of the USSR have equally concerned the Armenians, who, incidentally, settle in and get along well in other Soviet republics, too; this cannot be said about representatives of the other 14 republics of the Soviet Union. Before, during and after the Great Patriotic War[22], all peoples of the USSR lived peacefully and co-existed under single slogans and in one family. The friendship between the peoples of the USSR showed itself especially clearly during the war years. Hitler’s propaganda never managed to break the unity of our people. And I ask myself this question with alarm – what if the Armenians had started this fuss of theirs during the war years? No doubt, the front would have collapsed within a few days. Thank God it did not happen!

But then came the year 1948[23]. By someone’s astute plan, thousands of Armenians began migrating from abroad to the Armenian SSR. What is more, masses of stricken Dashnaks were resettling, like Ayrikyan, Manucharyan and the daughters of Dashnaktsutyun Central Committee member Silva Kaputikyan.

It was from this moment that the suppression and ousting began of Azerbaijanis who had populated the lands that made up the Armenian SSR for 500 to 600 years. Evidence of this was in tombstone inscriptions which have now all been barbarically destroyed by the present-day descendants of the Dashnaks. All Azerbaijani villages, place names, reservoir names etc. were given Armenian names. The Azerbaijanis who were driven out of their native homes by order of Mikoyan, Beria, Dekanozov, the Armavir Armenian Abakumov and others, and with Bagirov’s (leader of Azerbaijan SSR – ed.) knowledge, were settled, not in mountainous areas, but in the hot malarial districts of Imisli, Fuzuli and others of the Azerbaijani SSR, although the original idea was that they were to be settled in Karabagh, and then there would not have been the vile actions committed by Dashnaks like Melkumyan and Kevorkov, and now Pogosyan,

Gradually the ideological work by newcomer Armenians on the locals reached such an extent that eventually the slogan of “Armenia between the three seas” was raised again.

Armenian claims reached their peak after the international Armenian mafi a installed Levon Karapet Paldzhyan, a personal friend of Marshal Ion Antonescu, as Catholicos. With direct incitement from Armenian foreign fi nancial tycoons and sermons by Paldzhyan, bellicose Dashnak propaganda increased by the year.

A bacchanalia of publications began. The sadly deceased Paruyr Kazaryan, a favourite of Karapet Paldzhyan, was the first to blacken the Azerbaijani people. He was followed by Z. Balayan, S. Khanzadyan, who grew up eating Azerbaijani bread, B. Ulubabyan, the daughter of a door-maker who had the name of Kalman’s beauty, Silva and others, who unleashed a wave of insults and vilification against Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis. Silva directly called on the one-eared Andranik to take up his Mauser again, to shoot Azerbaijanis and cut open the stomachs of pregnant Azerbaijani women, with her help. How do you like that? (The position of the editorial board of the magazine “Friendship of Peoples” which printed Silva Kaputikyan’s vile verses is barely explicable – author’s note) The defunct, one-legged “Krunk” organization was revived and began flaping its scuffed wings. Local “revolutionary reformers” began to travel to foreign Armenian colonies, where Dashnak functionaries inflated all sorts of Balayans with ideas about the chosen people. Fat cats abroad started donating money for unbridled anti-Azerbaijani propaganda in the foreign press and at all kinds of gatherings that fed figures of large profile, ones like Aganbekyan.

The trading Armenian mafia abroad, and in our country too, actually, skillfully infiltrated its people into the top managerial circles of our state. And a suitable moment in time, as always, a revolutionary moment, had to be chosen, in order to stake everything on a rapid move against the Azerbaijanis. The perestroika and glasnost declared in the country were suitable pretexts for launching the offensive in the name of implementing chimerical goals left over from the fourth century.
In February 1988, the “Karabagh” committee, which was set up abroad and then moved to Yerevan, started its notorious crusade for the incorporation of the NKАО[24] into Armenia. As someone said recently: “Surprisingly, I have just secretly visited Karabagh and I saw that everyone looked like me!”

A little digression. A marble obelisk commemorating the 150th anniversary of the resettlement (after the conclusion of the Turkmanchay treaty of 1828) of the first 200 Armenian families from Maraga (Southern Azerbaijan) to Karabagh was solemnly erected in the village of Leninavan (former name of Maragashen) in 1978, i.e. 10 years ago; i.e. the oldest gravestone in the Armenian cemetery in Maragashen was laid no more than 160 years ago[25].

So, how can one say that Karabagh belongs to Armenia? And does it actually matter to whom some lands once belonged? People should live where they live, where their ancestors’ graves are. And if now, at the passing of two centuries, one starts redividing the lands, then where will this insanity lead to? – only God knows.

Glasnost and perestroika[26] gave the bellicose Armenian obscurantists an opportunity to emerge from underground and act openly, frightening and scaring the hard-working Armenian people, making them rally and stage strikes for days. For many years, members of “Krunk” and “Karabagh”, with the active support of clerics, collected money from the Armenian population and those who did not contribute were declared enemies of the nation and opponents of the restoration of the mythical “Great Armenia”.

After the two Azerbaijanis were killed, Armenian chetniks were due to face severe consequences and the Dashnak top brass of Armenian nationalists looked for an opportunity to avoid punishment for the crime. The Krunkovites very accurately figured out where they could stage a brawl. They carried out their vile strike on Sumqayit. Why Sumqayit? Because the Dashnaks once again wanted to rework Vereshchagin’s painting “Apotheosis of War”[27] into a modern photograph with “Armenian skulls”.

However, before initiating their coven in Sumqayit, the bellicose Krunk collected money from the Armenian population in the town and advised them to close their bank accounts, recommending Armenian capitalists with money to leave the town.
It should be said that by the time the Sumqayit tragedy was to happen the town had already been turned into a sort of environmental hell. Seven Soviet ministries had established toxic factories there that poisoned everything around: even the water in the sea and the entire shore of the Caspian. The town was overpopulated because of temporary residence workers, and the slums were worse than those in New York’s Harlem. After 1970, the town authorities halted completely their attempts to improve the environmental situation. They were entirely wrapped up in their personal affairs, viewing Sumqayit as a springboard for career promotion.

In addition to the inhumane living conditions, former criminals settled in Sumqayit; by the time of the tragedy they numbered over 20,000.

The Sumqayit tragedy was planned very carefully by Armenian nationalists. Several hours before it began, Armenian TV and newspaper reporters secretly infiltrated the town and lay in wait. The first to commit a criminal act was a certain Grigoryan, who was disguised as an Azerbaijani and who personally killed five Sumqayit Armenians. Well, what happened next was, so to speak, a “technical” matter, as the enormous crowd could no longer be stopped… especially as the police had been prohibited, since Shchelokov’s times, from carrying not only weapons but even regular batons. And the next day(!) a monument, already cast, to “victims of the Sumqayit genocide” was installed in Stepanakert. How do you like that?

So, Zori Balayan’s claptrap in “Argymenty”, S. Zolyan’s and B. Sheynis’s in “Vek XX i mir” and A. Oganesyan’s “Stomach Spasms” in “Kommunist” should be addressed to the Armenian nationalists like Kaputikyan, Khanzandyan and Pogosyan, who got out of hand.

And there are not 400 illegal mosques in Azerbaij an, something Oganesyan harps on about. As for the fifth sura in the Koran, it was uttered in the year 632 in connection with a fight with the tribe of Kaynuk, who lived on the Arabian Peninsula.

These are the thoughts that my Yerevan- based colleague P. Muradyan recommended to me and whom I, in turn, advise to face Oganesyan’s questions: “Hasn’t anything really changed? Hasn’t anything changed since 1895, 1915 and 1920?” P.S. A decree by the praesidium of the Supreme Council of the USSR “on the introduction of a special form of management in the NKAO of the Azerbaijani SSR” stabilized the situation in Nagornyy Karabagh considerably and instilled some hope for a change in the way of thinking by the Armenian part of the region’s population, although it is not that simple. For 40 years Krunkovites have hammered into people’s minds far-reaching ambitions, leading eventually to “self-determination”.

For 40 years Prophet Moses led the sons of Israel around the desert so that they forgot about their Egyptian captivity; those who had experienced captivity died and the new generation knew nothing about slavery. We will hope that in the case of the NKAO there will be no need for 40 years. We will also hope that Academician A. D. Sakharov and his “in formals”, like laboratory workers Batkin, Roy Medvedev, Zubov, Dubov–Sheludyayev and Starovoytova, will concentrate on more useful matters, things that the state pays them their salaries for.

Azerbaij anis, Armenians, Georgians, Lezgis and other peoples of the Caucasus have lived together for centuries and they will continue to do so, despite the racist and nationalistic vagaries of individual Dashnaks like Pogosyan, Balayan, Kaputikyan and co.

January, 1989

About the writer:
Ziya Bunyadov (1921-1997)
Vice-president of the Azerbaij ani National Academy of Sciences, Academician, Doctor of History, Professor.

For his bravery during the Second World War, he was made a Hero of the Soviet Union in 1945. He was a member of the Azerbaijani parliament. In 1997, he was murdered in a terrorist attack in the apartment block where he lived. He wrote books and articles on Azerbaijani medieval history. He was highly influential and made his mark internationally in oriental studies.

1. Samad Vurgun (1906-1956) A prominent modern Azerbaijani poet.
2. Ashig Alasgar (1821-1926) was born in Goyca mahali, in the village of Agkilsa (currently the village of Azad in the Vardenis District of the Republic of Armenia). A monument was laid on his gravestone in that village.
3. Sumqayit – located 35 km north-west of Baku, on the western coast of the Caspian Sea. In November 1945, obtained the status of a town subordinate to the central government of the republic; one of Azerbaijan’s main industrial centres.
4. Armenians shot them in the settlement of Asgaran, during a peaceful march staged by Azerbaijanis on 22 February 1988 against the Armenian separatist movement in Nagornyy Karabagh. Two teenagers from Adgam – Ali Haciyev and Bakhtiyar Quliyev – were killed and 19 people were injured.
5. The article was written in January 1989, when the USSR still existed. The USSR was established in 1922.
6. V.I. Lenin (1870-1924) was the founder of the Soviet state and organizer of the USSR. J.V. Stalin (1879-1953) led the Soviet state for many years.
7. The year 387 saw the signing of a Sassanid- Roman treaty, as a result of which the area called Armenia was divided.
8. As contemporary Armenian historians also admit, the historians mentioned here did not write actual history but exaggerated history. See: Гарсоян Н. Армения в IV в. // Вестник общественных наук. Ереван, 1971, № 3
9. Patkanov (Patkanyan) K.P. (1833-1889) conducted research into the history of the Armenian language and script. He was a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences from 1885.
10. The Seljuks were a Turkic-Oghuz tribe. In the year 1038 they established the Seljuk Empire, one of most famous states of the Middle Ages.
11. The Azerbaij ani Atabays state (1136- 1225), Elkhanids state (1256-1357), Jalayirids (1341-1431), Gara Goyunlu state (1410-1468), Ag Goyunlu state (1468- 1501), Safavi state (1501-1736), Kajars (1795-1925).
12. Ottoman sultan Abdulhamid II (1876- 1909)
13. Dashnaktsutyun (Union) – Armenian nationalist-terrorist party, established in 1890. See: Дашнаки (из материалов департамента полиции). Баку, 1990
14. Note by Russian consul-general to Erzerum, Мayevski. Реприт. издан. Баку, 1990
15. I.I. Vorontsov-Dashkov – tsar Nikolay III’s (1894-1917) viceroy in the Caucasus from 1905-1915.
16. Мемуары русского офицера // Из- вестия АН Азерб. ССР серия история, философия и право. 1988, №3, с.80-104
17. Bolshevik-Dashnak military formations led by Shaumyan, Lenin’s commissar plenipotentiary in the Caucasus, carried out a pogrom in Baku against Azerbaijanis from 31 March – 1 April 1918. The pogrom continued in Azerbaijan’s Karabagh, Shemakha, Guba and other regions, too. Under a decree by the President of the Azerbaijani Republic on 26 March 1998, 31 March was declared Massacre Day for Azerbaijanis.
18. A. Japaridze (1880-1918) Bolshevik, one of the leaders of the Council of the Baku People’s Commissariat which was established in April 1918.
19. On 28 May 1918, Azerbaijan declared its state independence and a democratic republic was established. However, Armenians dealt a heavy blow to the republic by their separatist activities and tried to weaken its defences in the face of aggression by Bolshevik Russia. The republic’s military forces won in fighting near Asgaran in March 1920. On 27 April 1920, the republic fell as a result of occupation by Russia.
20. Meaning the victory of the Soviet authorities in Armenia on 29 November 1920. With the close involvement of Soviet Russia, a number of Azerbaijan’s historical-geographical areas were given to Armenia.
21. The USSR consisted of 15 allied republics, and the Armenian SSR was one of them.
22. Meaning the war of 1941-1945.
23. During the leadership of J. Stalin, over 150,000 Azerbaijanis were deported from the Armenian SSR from 1948-1953.
The deportation process was accompanied by major diffi culties; thousands of innocent Azerbaij anis were killed.
24. The Nagornyy Karabagh autonomous region of the Azerbaij ani SSR was established in 1923.
25. Under the February 1828 Turkmanchay treaty between Russia and Iran, and the September 1829 Edirne treaty between Russia and the Ottoman state, officially 130,000 – actually over 200,000 – Armenians were resettled from Iran and the Ottoman state to Azerbaijan’s Karabagh, Naxcivan, Irevan and other regions.
26. The policy declared by M. S. Gorbachev after he became leader of the Soviet state in 1985. Under the policy of glasnost and perestroika, he cooperated with Armenians against Azerbaijan and inspired their territorial claims.
27. V.V. Vereshchagin (1842-1904) – Russian artist