718) The Azerbaijani Turks of Armenia

There are extensive number of publications on the so-called Armenian genocide, although only a few are scholarly academic papers and most of them propaganda material.One thinks that one of the aims of the supporters of the Armenian case may be to cover up what the Armenians have done to the Azerbaijani Turks in Armenia for 200 years. The history and culture of the Turks of Armenia is an understudied field, despite there is no specific reason for this. Therefore, this paper is an original contribution to the subject.

Erivan was only a small khanate until 1828 when it was occupied by the Russians. During the Russo-Iranian War of 1826-1828, which resulted with the defeat of the Iranians, 420 Turkish villages were destroyed, most of their population were killed and their property were looted by the members of the Armenian committees that fought in the Russian lines against the Iranians. Many destroyed Turkish villages, 105 in numbers, were re-populated by the Armenians who immigrated from Iran.

There was an attempt to populate the boundary area by the Russians, in order to create a buffer zone. To this end, the General Commander of Caucasus, General Paskeevic, appealed to the Tsar on 5 January 1829. The attempt failed, but, instead of the Russians, Armenians who lived in Anatolia and Iran were encouraged to immigrate and settle down in Caucasus. As pointed out by a Russian army officer, Shavrov, 1,000,000 of the Armenian population of 1,300,000 in Caucasus immigrated to the region from outside. Even Armenian historians accept the immigration of the Armenians to Caucasus.

The immigration policy has changed the demography of the region. Before the Russian occupation the total population was 169,155 of which 83,5 % was Muslims. In the light of the statistical figures of 1829-1831 the population rose to 241,112 as a result of the Armenian immigration policy. The Armenians became the majority of the Erivan region, forming 58,8 % of the total population. The situation of the Turks further deteriorated with 1905 massacres and 1918-1920 massacres under the regime of the Tashnaks. More Turks were killed and deported. As pointed out by some Armenian researchers as well, for example Korkodyan, 565,000 out of 575,000 Azerbaijani Turks of Armenia were either killed or deported by the Tashnak regime between 1918-1920, only just over 10,000 remaining. Under the Soviets, the pressure on the Turks was a bit relaxed and 60,000 returned back, making the total population of the Turks of Armenia 72,596. Yet, the policy of ‘purification’ of Armenia, in another word Armenification, has continued to be implemented. Until 1935 the names of the almost all, 95%, geographical places, like mountains, rivers, valleys, and villages and towns were Turkish. This is confirmed by the military maps prepared by the Russians. The Armenian government officially replaced the Turkish names with Armenian ones. Also on the one hand the Armenian population of Iran was encouraged to settle in Armenia, and on the other hand Turkish population of Armenia, as witnessed in 1953 when 150,000 Turks deported to Azerbaijan, was reduced.

As the Nagarno Karabagh conflict came to existence in 1988, nearly a quarter million of Azerbaijani Turks either expelled or killed by the Armenian militia which operated under the auspices of the government, sometimes with direct involvement of the government. Note that this figure excludes the Karabagh Turks, a million of them seeked refuge in Azerbaijan. Today the number of the Turkish population living in Armenia is almost zero, in contrast with 60,000 Armenians living in Azerbaijan.

To conclude, Armenia had long before started to implement an ethnic cleansing policy. As a result of the immigration of the Armenians from outside and deportation of the local Turkish population, the territory called Armenia today has been created.

* -
- Armenian Studies, Issue 4, December 2001 - January-February 2002


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