Apr 031996
 

FACT SHEET: NAGORNO-KARABAGH

ARMENIAN RESEARCH CENTER

The University of Michigan-Dearborn

Dearborn, MI 48128

The Autonomous Region of Mountainous Karabagh (also known in America as Nagorno-Karabagh) recently declared independence from Azerbaijan because of continued persecution, oppression, and human and civil rights violations by the Azeri Turks. It was attached to Azerbaijan as an Autonomous Region by Joseph Stalin in 1921 and has suffered under Azeri rule from that time onward.
Mountainous Karabagh had a pre-war population of approximately 200,000 people, 77% of whom were Christian Armenians. The remaining 23% were mainly Muslim Azeri Turks. Nagorno-Karabagh’s capital is Stepanakert. It has an area of about 1,700 square miles, slightly smaller than the state of Delaware.

  • On December 10, 1991, Nagorno-Karabagh held an independence referendum in which 82% of all voters participated, and 99% voted for independence.
  • On January 6, 1992, the leaders of Nagorno-Karabagh declared independence as the Republic of Mountainous Karabagh (RMK).
  • On January 8, 1992, Artur Mkrtchian was elected President and Oleg Yessaian as Prime Minister of Karabagh by Karabagh’s Parliament. Note that this Presidency is not an independent office such as in the United States.
  • On January 24, 1992, Karabagh’s Parliament elected Georgi Petrosian to the office of Vice President.
  • On April 14, Artur Mkrtchian died in an accidental weapons misfire. Georgi Petrosian became acting President.
  • On May 8, the Karabagh Defense Forces took Shushi, a city in Karabagh overlooking Stepanakert, from which the Azeris had been shelling Stepanakert.
  • On May 18, the Karabagh Defense Forces took Lachin and connected Karabagh to Armenia, thus breaking the Azeri economic blockade on Karabagh (however, Armenia’s situation was not much better since it too was—and still is—under Azeri blockade).
  • On June 12, following the June 7 election of Abulfez Elchibey as President of Azerbaijan, the Azeris launched a massive offensive that seized almost half of Karabagh by September. Beginning in late fall, the Karabagh Defense Forces retook nearly all of these territories and restored the political integrity of Karabagh by late March 1993.
  • On March 27, 1993, the Karabagh Defense Forces, to forestall an Azeri spring offensive, launched attacks at two strategic Azeri cities, Kelbajar and Fizuli. They took Kelbajar on April 3, but were unable to take Fizuli. The capture of Kelbajar gave Karabagh a new connection to Armenia.
  • On June 14, acting President Georgi Petrosian resigned as Armenian President Levon Ter Petrosian travels to Stepanakert to persuade the Presidium of Karabagh’s Parliament to accept a new CSCE peace plan, which it does by a vote of 6 to 5. Garen Baburian became the new acting President.
  • June through August 1993 was a time of confusion in Azerbaijan as Surat Huseinov led a revolt against Elchibey; Haidar Aliyev became the new President of Azerbaijan; and a short-lived Mughan-Talish Republic was declared in Lenkoran, a port city near the Iranian border.
  • July 23 to September 4 1993, Karabagh Defense Forces take Agdam, Fizuli, Jebrail, and Horadiz (although Horadiz keeps changing hands), thus taking the war to the rest of Azerbaijan.
  • From December 22, 1993, to November 1994, the re-formed Azeri army, stiffened by Turkish and MegaOil (renegade Americans) training; Ukrainian, Turkish, and Chinese weaponry; and Afghan mujaheddin, launched new unsuccessful attacks on Karabagh.
  • In May of 1994 a tenuous cease-fire went into effect, which is still holding today.
  • December 28, 1994, The Karabagh Parliament created an independent Presidency such as in the United States and elected Robert Kocharian to fill it the next day.

Historical Background:

Historically Armenian, Nagorno-Karabagh was connected to Armenia in ancient times, a connection that was lost after the division of the Armenian Kingdom in 387 AD. With the rise of Islam in the seventh century, Karabagh fell under Arab rule, where it stayed for 300 years.

In the eleventh century, Karabagh came under the rule of the Bagratid Kings of Georgia, relatives of the Armenian Bagratids, who held it until the Mongol invasion. After 100 years of Mongol rule, Karabagh fell into Turkish hands, where it stayed until the Persians took power in the early 1600s.

In 1603, Shah Abbas the Great of Persia allowed local Armenian rule in Karabagh under five meliks (kings). These five kinglets, later joined—but not supplanted—by a Muslim khanate, survived until the Russian conquest of Karabagh in 1828.

Under Russian rule, a deliberate effort was made to link Karabagh economically with the “Baku Province,” later to be named Azerbaijan. With the withdrawal of Russian power following the Russian democratic revolution in February/March of 1917, Karabagh reemerged as a state, governed by the Assembly of Karabagh Armenians.

The Azerbaijanis, who were trying to organize their own state, contested the Armenians’ right to rule Karabagh, even though it was overwhelmingly Armenian. The Azeris first turned for help to the British occupation force led by General Dunsterville, then to the Ottoman army under Nuri Pasha, and finally to the Russian Bolsheviks. With foreign aid, they won out.

Soviet Period:

At first the Soviets returned Nagorno-Karabagh to Armenia; but after a brief period, Joseph Stalin gave it to Azerbaijan as an “autonomous region,” and altered the boundaries so that Karabagh was cut off from Armenia and was smaller in size.

The next 70-plus years witnessed Azeri persecution of Armenians in an attempt to drive them out and replace them with Azeris, as was done in the Armenian territory of Nakhichevan.

In the Gorbachev era of glasnost, the Armenians brought the persecution of their brethren to the world’s attention through massive peaceful demonstrations in Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia, in February 1988.

By openly and bravely protesting Soviet ethnic injustice for the first time, the reform movement in Nagorno-Karabagh ignited the independence movements in the Soviet Bloc of Eastern Europe. The “Karabagh Movement” is thus the grandfather of freedom not only in Eastern Europe but in the former USSR itself.

At that time the Armenians wanted to attach Nagorno-Karabagh to Armenia, to ensure its survival, but now they respect the wishes of the Nargorno-Karabagh Armenians to be independent. The independence movement has been met with appalling violence from the Azeris. In February 1988 there was a pogrom (massacre) against Armenians in Sumgait, a suburb of Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. In November of 1988, there was a pogrom against Armenians in Kirovabad (now Ganja), in the interior of Azerbaijan. In 1989-90, there are joint Soviet-Azerbaijani forced deportations of Armenians living in towns and villages of Azerbaijan bordering Nagorno- Karabagh. In January of 1990, there was pogrom against Armenians in Baku itself.

When the Azeris began an outright military assault on the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabagh itself, they took up arms to defend their homes, their land, and their ancient culture. The Armenians are fighting for self-preservation and for the right of self- determination, while the Azeris are fighting to expel an ancient people from their historic homeland and to preserve power over a foreign province.

Today, a tenous cease-fire is in place and has been holding for the past 16 months. However, the Azeris number eight million and have a wealth of oil resources to draw upon in the coming years, and the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabagh only 160,000 and scant resources. Very little would prevent the Azeris from reopening hostilities and starting a full-scale war once the oil money enters its coffers. A genocide similar to that of 1915 is threatened unless the world takes an interest in and protects the lives of the embattled Armenian minority.

Despite numerous acts of provocation on the part of Azerbaijan—including a six-year-old blockade of Armenia—the Armenian government has studiously avoided being drawn into the war between the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabagh and the Azeri leaders in Baku. In October 1992, the US Congress enacted legislation banning direct US assistance to the government of Azerbaijan until the blockade is lifted and the aggression ends.

The six-year-old war has taken the lives of more than 16,000 people, and over 1,000,000 have been displaced. Azerbaijan currently has 600,000-1,000,000 refugees, Armenia 400,000 refugees, and Nagorno-Karabagh 60,000 refugees.

Current Issues:

  • The United States and the United Nations should recognize the independence of the Republic of Mountainous Karabagh.
  • Azeri leaders and Turkish leaders should reduce belligerent talk and cease to incite their people to war.
  • Azerbaijan should cease hiring mujaheddin and other foreign mercenaries.
  • Turkey should no longer train and supply Azerbaijani troops and should cease threatening gestures towards Armenia.
  • Azerbaijan and Turkey should cease their illegal blockades of Armenia and Karabagh, which have caused untold suffering and death for the civilian population of Armenia.
  • A permanent truce must be agreed upon and enforced.
  • United Nations troops should be sent in to monitor a self- determination plebiscite.

Current Situation

The current situation is one of “no peace, no war.” Negotiations continue, but with Azerbaijan insisting on the principle of “territorial integrity” (despite the fact that Eritrea was recognized by the world community as independent from Ethiopia after a war), little progress has been made.

April 3, 1996

Apr 011993
 

Ethnic Cleansing in Progress: War in Nagorno Karabakh

Institute for Religious Minorities in Islamic World (April 1993)
By Caroline COX and John EIBNER

Contents
Preface
Introduction
Basic Facts
A Conflict of Civilizations
The Genocide
The Pincers of Pan-Turkism
Soviet Rule
The Karabakh Question Revived
Operation Ring
The Post-Soviet Conflict
The Characteristics of the People of Nagorno Karabakh
The Prognosis: Continuing Bloodshed
Conclusions
Recommendations


Available online at: Sumgait.info

Dec 101991
 

On September 10, 1991, a group of independent observers arrived in the Nagorno Karabakh Republic for observing the course of the referendum on the status of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic.

The observers worked in the town of Stepanakert, the Askeran, Hadrut, Martakert, Martuni, and Shahumian regions. The observers visited over 30 polling stations and observed the process of votes’ calculation.

The independent observers state that:

The preparation, conduction, and summing-up of the referendum were carried out in accordance with the “Temporary Provision on the Conduction of a Referendum in the Nagorno Karabakh Republic”. 81 polling districts were created in the NKR territory. The districts list and the addresses of the electoral commissions were published in “Soviet Karabakh” newspaper. The voters’ list comprised 132.328 citizens eligible to vote.

The question of the referendum was formulated as follows: “Do you accept that the proclaimed Nagorno Karabakh Republic be an independent state independently determining the forms of cooperation with other states and communities?” Continue reading »

Sep 271990
 

(This is a joint initiative of the Helsinki Treaty Watchdog Committee of France and intellectuals from the College International de Philosophie, Paris.)

An era which we all thought had ended, the era of pogroms, has resurfaced. Once again this year, the Armenian community of Azerbaijan has been the victim of atrocious and intolerable premeditated massacres.

As scholars, writers, scientists, political leaders and artists we wish, first of all, to express our profound indignation over such barbaric acts, which we wanted to believe belonged to humanity’s past.

We intend this statement as more than an after-the-fact condemnation. We want to alert international public opinion to the continuing danger that racism represents to the future of humanity. It forebodes ill that we are experiencing the same powerlessness when faced with such flagrant violations of human rights a half century after the genocide of the Jewish people in Nazi concentration camps and forty years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It would be inexcusable if, because of our silence now, we contributed to the suffering of new victims.

The situation of Armenians in the Caucasus is, in fact, too serious for us to remain silent. There are moments when we must assume the moral obligation to assist a people in peril. Our sense of obligation leads us today to appeal to the international community and to public opinion.

More than two years ago, active persecution against Armenians began in Azerbaijan. The pogroms of Sumgait in February, 1988 were followed by massacres in Kirovapat and Baku in November 1988. As recently as January 1990, the pogroms continued in Baku and other parts of Azerbaijan. The mere fact that these pogroms were repeated and the fact that they followed the same pattern lead us to think that these tragic events are not accidents or spontaneous outbursts.

Rather, we are compelled to recognize that crimes against the Armenian minority have become consistent practice—if not official policy—in Soviet Azerbaijan. According to the late Andrei Sakharov (New York Times, November 26, 1988), these pogroms constitute “a real threat of extermination” to the indigenous Armenian community in Azerbaijan and in the autonomous region of Mountainous Karabagh, whose inhabitants are 80 percent Armenian.

Horror has not limits, especially when we remember that the threat is against Armenian people who in 1915 paid dearly for their right to be different in the Ottoman Empire. There, Armenians lost half their population to genocide, the worst consequence of racism. Furthermore, if the recent pogroms have revived nightmares of extermination not yet overcome, the current total blockade of Armenia and Mountainous Karabagh and 85 percent of those into Armenia pass through Azerbaijan; it would not be an exaggeration to maintain that such a blockade amounts to the strangulation of Armenia. In a land devastated by the earthquake of December 7, 1988, the blockade has paralyzed the economy and dealt a mortal blow to the reconstruction efforts.

It is our sincere hope that perestroika will succeed. But we also hope for the success of glasnost and democratization. We recognize that the passage from a totalitarian state to a rule of law can not be achieved overnight. It is nonetheless necessary that in the process of transition, the government of the Soviet Union promote, legalize and institutionalize such critical forces for democracy as human rights, the principle of toleration, and democratic movements. There is no better defense and demonstration of democracy. At any rate, that is the only way to avoid the worst. In the case of a multinational state, the worst may mean threats to the right of a people or a minority to exist. It is during periods of transition and uncertainty that rights of peoples—today Armenians, tomorrow another people or minority—are threatened or denied. In this respect, the ease with which we see today the development in the USSR of racist movements, especially the anti-Semitic movement know as Pamyat, is for us cause for grave concern.

In the name of our duty of vigilance, we demand that Soviet authorities as well as the international community condemn unequivocally these anti-Armenian pogroms and that they denounce especially the racist ideology which has been used by the perpetrators of these crimes as justification.

We ask from the Soviet authorities and the international community that all necessary measures be taken immediately to ensure the protection and security of Armenians in the Caucasus and other parts of the Soviet Union. This can begin by bringing about a definitive lifting of the Azerbaijani blockade.

It should be clear that the forceful deportation of Armenians is not the solution to the problem of Mountainous Karabagh which, in essence, is a problem of human rights.

Because the genocide of 1915 began with pogroms and massive deportations, and because that painful memory still endures, Armenia lives today in anguish and despair.

It is in such circumstances that the international community of states under the rule of law must prove the authenticity of its commitment to human rights in order to ensure that, due to indifference and silence bordering on complicity, a second genocide does not occur.

David Aaron (Trustee, International League for Human Rights)
Sir Isaiah Berlin (All Souls College, Oxford)
William M. Chace (President of Wesleyan University)
Jacques Derrida (Philosophy, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris)
Luc Ferry (Philosophy, University of Rennes)
Alain Finkelkraut (Philosophy, Paris)
Hans-Georg Gadamer (Philosophy, University of Heidelberg)
André Glucksmann (Philosophy, Paris)
Vartan Gregorian (History, Brown University)
Jürgen Habermas (Philosophy, University of Frankfurt)
Agnes Heller (Philosophy, The New School for Social Research)
Benjamin L. Hooks (Executive Director, NAACP)
Leszek Kolakowski (Philosophy, All Souls College, Oxford)
Emmanuel Levinas (Philosophy, University of Paris IV, Sorbonne)
Adrian Lyttelton (History, Johns Hopkins Center for International Studies)
Jacques Poulain (Philosophy, University of Paris VIII)
Hilary Putnam (Boston)
Paul Ricoeur (Philosophy, University of Paris/Nanterre)
Richard Rorty (Philosophy, University of North Carolina)
Jerome J. Shestack (Chairman, International League for Human Rights)
Charles Taylor (Philosophy & Political Science, McGill University, Montreal)
Reiner Wiehl (Philosophy, University of Heidelberg)
Reginald E. Zelnick (Professor of History, University of California at Berkeley)
and 110 others


Source: New York Times

Sep 011990
 

“The Sumgait Tragedy: Pogroms Against Armenians in Soviet Azerbaijan (Volume I, Eyewitness Accounts)”

By the ZORYAN INSTITUTE
Edited by: Samyel SHAHMURATIAN

For three days in February, 1988, the Azerbaijani city of Sumgait became the arena of pogroms against the Armenians of the city. The Sumgait tragedy was a brutal, organized attempt to block a political solution to the peaceful demands of the Armenians of Mountainous Karabagh for self-determination. These events marked the beginning of a premeditated plan to depopulate Azerbaijan of Armenians, and eventually of Russians and Jews.
The Sumgait Tragedy: Pogroms Against Armenians in Soviet Azerbaijan (Volume I, Eyewitness Accounts) is a compilation of 36 interviews conducted by Armenian journalist Samvel Shahmuratian with 45 of the Sumgait survivors. These testimonies give painful answers to critical questions? What happened in Sumgait? Why was the impending slaughter not averted? Why did measures to halt the massacres come too late? Why did the events not receive complete analysis and coverage by the mass media, the government, and judicial bodies? The answers to these questions come from the victims themselves, in halting painful narratives. Maps included.

Source: Zoryan Institute

Nov 261988
 

The Soviet human-rights campaigner Andrei D. Sakharov asserted yesterday that more than 130 Armenians had been killed by Azerbaijani mobs in the city of Kirovabad during the spreading ethnic unrest in the southern Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan.

”With the authorities’ connivance, the murders, rapes and arsons are continuing now for a fifth day and are spreading to other cities and towns of Azerbaijan,” Mr. Sakharov said in a statement from Newton, Mass.

The outspoken Soviet physicist, who is visiting the United States on a visa rarely granted by Moscow to its critics, called on the Soviet Government to ”take the necessary measures to insure the safety of the Armenian population, including the introduction of sufficient troops into Azerbaijan for this purpose.”

Dr. Sakharov said he had received reports from the Soviet Union that ”more than 130 Armenians have been killed in the city of Kirovabad by Azerbaijani rioters inflamed by nationalist passions, and more than 200 Armenians had been wounded.” ‘Threat of Genocide’


Source: New York Times

Mar 011988
 

The Karabagh File. Documents and Facts, 1918-1988

First Edition, Cambridge Toronto 1988
By the ZORYAN INSTITUTE
Edited by: Gerard J. LIBARIDIAN

In late February 1988, the world was shocked by a week-long series of demonstrations in Yerevan, capital of the Armenian S.S.R., one of the fifteen republics of the Soviet Union. Although peaceful, the place, size, length, and apparent suddenness of the demonstrations brought to world consciousness names of people and places as intractable as the issues they embody. The sights and sounds of hundreds of thousands of demonstrators seeking to influence policy makers in the central government of the U.S.S.R. and bring about changes in internal boundaries highlighted the promise and challenge of glasnost and perestroika. The question of Mountainous Karabagh also raised the thorny issue of Soviet nationalities policy.

The day to day interpretations accompanying the drama that unfolded could not have been expected to reveal the roots and dimensions of the question of Mountainous Karabagh, a 4,500 sq km Armenian-populated-area which Armenians are hoping will be reattached to their land. There is a gap between the fascination with the question and available information.

This is a unique volume which attempts to bridge that gap. Through the extensive use of original documents, maps, statistical data, a chronology, and photographs covering the last eighty years, the Zoryan Institute and its staff provide the reader not only the necessary information but also the context within which it is possible to analyze the problems.

File: The Karabagh File
Source: Zoryan Institute Continue reading »