March 31 - the genocide that will never be erased from our historical memory
Today is 31 March – Day of Genocide of Azerbaijanis, when the memory of Azerbaijanis killed by Armenians for their ethnic and religious affiliation, subjected to a policy of racial discrimination, ethnic cleansing and genocide is commemorated.
105 years ago, in March-April 1918, Dashnak-Bolshevik armed groups operating under the mandate of the Baku Soviet carried out brutal massacres against tens of thousands of peaceful Azerbaijanis in Baku, as well as in Shamakhi, Guba, Irevan, Zangazur, Garabagh, Nakhchivan and Kars regions. As a result of massacres, more than 16,000 people were brutally murdered and 167 villages were destroyed in Guba alone.
The systematic and planned nature of the massacres, which were an integral part of the radical nationalist Armenians’ policy of racial discrimination and ethnic cleansing against Azerbaijanis, manifests itself in the confessions of Stephan Shaumyan, Extraordinary Commissioner of the Caucasus, an ethnic Armenian, that 6,000 armed soldiers of the Baku Soviet and 4,000 armed soldiers of the Dashnaksutyun Party took part in the massacres.
After the establishment of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR), the government created the Extraordinary Investigation Commission for the investigation of grave crimes committed by Armenians, where the best lawyers of that time, including different ethnicities, such as Russians, Jews, Poles, Georgians and even Armenians were represented. As a result of the Commission’s investigation and based on evidence, criminal cases were opened against 194 persons accused of different crimes against peaceful population, and 24 people were arrested in Baku and about 100 in Shamakhi for their crimes. However, the continuation of this first step towards a political and legal assessment of the policy of genocide against Azerbaijanis was interrupted due to the occupation of the Republic of Azerbaijan by Soviet Army.
An adequate political assessment to the events was given after the restoration of Azerbaijan's independence, with the Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan “On the Genocide of Azerbaijanis” dated March 26, 1998 signed by the National Leader Heydar Aliyev, when according to this Decree, March 31 was declared as the “Day of Genocide of Azerbaijanis”. Day of Genocide of Azerbaijanis is of exceptional importance in informing the world community about the policy of ethnic cleansing and crimes of genocide committed against Azerbaijanis.
Ethnic cleansing, genocide and other crimes against humanity, which are an integral part of Armenia's policy of ethnic hatred and intolerance against Azerbaijanis, were continued during the 30-year long policy of military aggression against Azerbaijan, as well as during the 44-Day Patriotic War. Our compatriots who were expelled as a result of the deportation of Azerbaijanis living in Armenia, as well as the occupation of Azerbaijani territories from their homes were subjected to the policy of ethnic cleansing by Armenia, the civilian population became victims of acts of genocide, including Khojaly, numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity. Missile attacks against civilians in Ganja, Barda, Tartar and other cities of Azerbaijan outside the frontline during the 44-Day Patriotic War once again proved the continuation of the Armenia’s state-level policy of ethnic cleansing against Azerbaijanis.
On the 105th anniversary of the March massacres, we commemorate the innocent victims of the policy of genocide, racial discrimination and ethnic cleansing committed by Armenia against Azerbaijanis with deep sorrow, as well as reiterate the importance of ending Armenia’s impunity to prevent such crimes and their recurrence.
Azerbaijan, believing that the restoration of justice will make a significant contribution to the establishment of peace and security in the region, will continue to take measures to end impunity in the international legal framework.