‘Something Broke Inside Me’: Armenians Who Fled Azerbaijan Speak

The Armenian Weekly August 2013 Magazine

The woman sitting across from me stopped speaking. Tilting her chin downward she closed her eyes and shook her head slightly.

No.

Oh, I said, startled as I looked up from my notebook. I saw there were tears running down her face. Oh, it’s OK. You don’t have to go on. I turned to my interpreter. Please tell her she doesn’t have to continue if she doesn’t feel comfortable. I wanted to reach across the table and place my hand on her arm, to offer a reassuring touch. A sign of consolation. A pause. She nodded through the tears. A stiff smile crossed her face for a second, revealing a trace of relief. Her hands in her lap, she remained motionless.

I’m so sorry, I said. Please tell her I didn’t mean to make her uncomfortable.

The woman had stopped herself midsentence, choking up while recounting the story of her neighbor in Baku. They had lived in the same apartment building for years. It was where, in the courtyard, the resident families would hold cookouts during warm summer evenings, where their children would play together, and where they would share meals during the holidays. It was the same building where she and her husband spent years remodeling the floors, the bathroom, and the kitchen to make it truly comfortable. And it was where one night a group of angry Azerbaijanis broke down her neighbor’s door, grabbed her by the arms, and threw her from the window, four stories to her death on the concrete below. Then, in some twisted final act, the Azerbaijani men combined their might to hurl her large wooden bureau out of the window so that it landed on top of her.

I took a breath. Where to go from here? I thought.

This woman was one of the many displaced Armenians from Baku who I interviewed for my master’s thesis. The quest to complete the thesis was bumpy, to say the least; I switched topics at least three times over the course of several months before settling on one that continues to fascinate me—the human face of violence and war. I did so by focusing on the Nagorno Karabagh conflict, specifically the pogroms of Baku, and the Armenians who fled Azerbaijan because of them. Setting out on an equally trying road of finding people to interview, I spent weeks searching, traveling up and down the East Coast to interview those who were forced from a place that their families had called home for generations. Through my interviews I tried to figure out how conflict-induced displacement had impacted the cultural identity of some of Baku’s Armenians, now members of the Armenian Diaspora. I set out to explore the way people relate to others within their own ethnic group and their sense of belonging to that group. And while I focused on how this group of people expressed their identities through symbolic ethnicity—like language and the Armenian Church, for example—what moved me the most was much of the material I didn’t include in the final product: the stories of abrupt and horrific violence, the heart-wrenching and shocking tales of neighbors turning against neighbors, incredible loss, struggle, survival, and subsequent rebirth.

After some silence the woman suddenly surprised me by continuing. After that, I hid, all night long in a closet and then again for the entire next day. As soon as I could, I left on the ferry to Turkmenistan.

The long-simmering dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabagh finally erupted into violent clashes in 1988 when pogroms were waged against Armenians by Azerbaijanis, first in the small industrial city of Sumgait, located about 20 miles outside of Baku. While tensions had culminated in several episodes of violence around Armenia and Azerbaijan up until that point, they were nothing compared to the gruesome violence of Sumgait. When about 50 people assembled in Sumgait’s Lenin Square for a rally protesting Karabagh’s unification with Armenia and demanded that Armenians leave Azerbaijan, violence exploded on a seemingly unimaginable scale, engulfing the city as gangs tore through, vandalizing property, looting and destroying homes, and smashing and burning cars. People were hacked to death with axes. Metal pipes were used as crude weapons. Homes were destroyed. Women were gang raped in public. Some people were dismembered, some were set on fire. Thirty-two people died in the Sumgait pogroms—26 Armenians and six Azerbaijanis.

Many Bakvetsis were incredulous; the violence that struck Sumgait was atrocious, so horrifying, that most never believed it would be able to permeate a multicultural, downright cosmopolitan city like Baku—where Russians, Jews, Ukrainians, Azerbaijanis, and Armenians not only intermingled but were friends. While discrimination was embedded in the social strata, the differences between these ethnic groups were mostly overlooked in daily life.

In no other capital in the Soviet Union were people as proud as they were of being from Baku. After the genocide took place, these were the people who accepted us. Azeris were the people who accepted us, one man told me.

There were streets named after Armenians in Baku, there were Armenian schools and churches, and a specific neighborhood in the center of the city called Armenikend, or “Armenian Village.” Armenians for the most part considered themselves integral to the history and the strength of the city.

Life in Baku, it was beautiful, many of them told me. Parties. Concerts. Barbeques. Family gatherings. Some had salvaged photos, which they spread out across coffee tables and in their dining rooms, showing me life as they had once known it. Birthday cakes. Singing around pianos. Vacations to the Black Sea in the summer, sunlight dripping off the palm trees. Sure, Armenians were second-class citizens, but everyone was friends with everyone else for the most part, they told me. Life was rich.

After Sumgait happened, Baku was relatively quiet until a certain tension and fear gripped the streets, permeating the fabric of the city. It’s not going to happen in Baku. It’s never going to happen in Baku, was what many of the people I interviewed said they thought after Sumgait. It could never happen here.

Then it all changed.

Things continued to shift, Armenians were targeted more and more. They feared for their safety when they were outside. Some were followed by Azerbaijanis and forced to make a quick escape by hiding in nearby buildings. Mobs of Azerbaijanis, sometimes as big as 30 or 40 people, would comb the city, pulling people off of buses and out of crowds in an attempt to “catch” Armenians. If they couldn’t identify Armenians based on physical characteristics, the Azerbaijanis would also run “tests” of shibboleths, like the pronunciation of the Azeri word for “hazelnut,” (fundukh), which Armenians tended to say with a “p” instead of an “f” sound.

Eventually, a curfew was imposed. Threats increased. Many Armenians began to trade their apartments and sell their belongings in preparation for a way out of Azerbaijan.

In January 1990, rallies eventually broke out in the north of the country and in Baku following the decision of the Armenian Parliament to include Karabagh in its budget. When a list of Armenians’ addresses was posted on the front door of the Azerbaijani Popular Front headquarters in public view, violence erupted in Baku. Ninety people died in the pogroms, known as “Black January,” in violence just as horrific as Sumgait.

For one week, it was a bloodbath with no one to stop it, one man told me.

Azerbaijanis would break into homes, searching for Armenians, vandalizing everything. Once again, people were assaulted, killed, raped, and mutilated.

For many Armenians fearing for their lives, the acquaintances and the neighbors they had known for years turned their backs on them. There were those who helped, too, of course, like the Azerbaijani neighbor who harbored one woman and her daughter in his apartment for days until they could finally be evacuated by a relative in the KGB, who escorted them out with the Russian families being evacuated from Baku. And there was the young group of Azerbaijanis who saved one of their friends from an inquisitive mob, insisting he was just one of them—a Tartar who couldn’t speak Azeri. Or the kind neighbor who hid her Armenian friends in her closets and under her bed while Azerbaijanis raided her apartment building.

We are left with broken hearts, one woman told me. My students asked me, ‘Why did you leave?’ I tell them that it’s not like they knocked on my door nicely and said, ‘Go.’ They killed and they raped. Something broke inside me.

The violence in Baku essentially drove the rest of the Armenian population out of Azerbaijan. Most—about 200,000—had left by the end of 1989 and had resettled in Armenia, Russia, and other former Soviet republics. Over the course of several days during and after the pogroms, the Armenians of Baku fled for their lives, gathering up their families and whatever few possessions they could to leave by plane or by train or by truck or ferry. They left everything behind, and their stomachs were weighed down with the horrible feeling that they were probably never going to come back. The 18 Armenians that I interviewed went to Armenia, and Moscow or southern Russia, primarily because they had some kind of personal connection to someone living in the country at the time, some family or friends who could provide support. Eventually, these 18 people came to the United States, primarily as refugees, where they started over a second time.

For some, seeking refuge in their historic homeland, Armenia, after the pogroms seemed logical. Even though they spoke Russian at home instead of Armenian, and even if they had no family members to host them, they thought they would have the space and the support to rebuild their lives in Armenia, and the shock of displacement would be lessened. For some it was a source of pride. This was our land, our soil. We’re going to have our roots there, they said.

Sometimes it was viewed as the only option. We left Azerbaijan to go to Armenia because we had no other choice, one told me. There was nowhere else we could go. But it wasn’t always the easiest experience.

For some, life in Armenia meant struggle, and they were treated as outsiders. Some were criticized for having lived so far from the motherland or for not being able to speak Armenian. Others told me of being yelled at or even spit on, being called “Turks” or shortvatz (flipped) Armenians who had been happy living with the enemy.

Having come from a cosmopolitan city like Baku, many were in shock when they suddenly found themselves living in refugee housing in rural areas, where they were forced to grow their own food or wash their laundry by hand. Our house became a refugee camp, said one person whose three-room apartment in Abovyan was typically filled with 17 displaced relatives at any given time.

Others had similar experiences living in Russia, where they were called “black,” a derogatory name for people from the Caucasus, or where they were physically assaulted simply because they were perceived as being different. This discrimination grew more persistent after the fall of the Soviet Union, concurrent with the rise of Russian nationalism.

During the 1990s, the United States allowed those fleeing persecution in the Soviet Union to come to the U.S. as refugees. Many Armenians—up to 100,000—came to the United States between 1989 and 1996, and many received priority refugee status in the early 1990s. Most of the people I interviewed arrived on U.S. soil with next to nothing—broken suitcases and no more than $300 in their pockets. As adults who had established themselves as engineers, teachers, musicians, and scientists back in Baku, they had to reinvent themselves.

Some took jobs in factories or cafeterias while they tried to learn English. Others pursued their educations and tried to get ahead. Struggles continued for some, and lasted longer than expected. And often, a question arose: Did we make the right

decision to come here?

For most I spoke with, the answer is yes. Armenians are no strangers to collective trauma and violence. It’s no surprise these 18 people displayed the resiliency and the strength needed to not only rebuild their lives, but to succeed after being affected both directly and indirectly by violence that is so often the consequence of geopolitics.

I’ve lived in Azerbaijan. I’ve lived in Armenia, Russia, and now I live in America. Obviously I can adapt, one participant said. You have to lose part of you to become part of something else.

Over the course of more than two decades they have turned themselves back into engineers and teachers. Some have become activists and writers in places like New Jersey and Boston and Washington. Some have become mothers and fathers and grandparents. Some have connected more to their Armenian roots. Others say they are indifferent.

Those I interviewed had many ways of describing how they thought of Baku now: a shut door, a closed page, a home erased, just as evidence of the Armenian presence in Baku has been washed away with the defacement and destruction of monuments and cemeteries.

For many, Baku is now just a piece of their history, the memories of which remain in the recesses of their minds. Perhaps that’s what happens when there is really no way of going back home. Very few said they would ever go back, even if they were allowed to.

There is no such place, one woman told me. That’s all. It’s gone.

While researching this topic, I found that while the violence of the pogroms was recorded, the long-term impact they had on the Armenians from Baku had scarcely been touched. More than once I was asked why I was interested in this topic. No one really cares about this anymore anyway, some said. Still, I was fascinated. And perhaps at the very least, I hoped to make some contribution to documenting stories that haven’t really been told.

Toward the end of my interviews, one woman made a remark about how Baku Armenians are a dying people. My generation, that’s it. Our kids–they won’t remember, they won’t know. I will try to pass the memories, though. We still remember my dad’s aunt. She was a Genocide survivor. She was 8 or 10 years old and they escaped the Genocide. We still remember her telling us about it. So we will probably do the same with our kids.

avatar

Erin Henk

A former journalist, Erin Henk focused on the conflict-induced displacement of Baku Armenians as part of the completion of her master’s degree in human rights and humanitarian assistance at NYU in 2012. She has worked for the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR) and, until recently, worked in Kabul, Afghanistan for the International Rescue Committee.

34 Comments

  1. Dear Erin, thank you for speaking for the Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan about the pain and trauma that still lingers in our community. The trauma is multiplied by the world’s reaction to the ethnic cleansing campaign, the silence that followed. It is true, “No one really cares about this anymore” but they might care and they might prevent this in the future if more of us speak up. We might be a dying people, the proud Baku Armenians, in a sense that we no longer identify with the city we loved. But the fact that we are successful in all areas of life, in all corners of the world, speaks to our strength and our resolve. Growing up surrounded by Azeris, surviving the ethnic cleansing in Sumgait, Kirovobad, Baku, and then going on to raise our children to be successful, thoughtful and productive members of our respective communities is how we survive and move on from what does not define us.

  2. Though no piece of journalism can be expected to be perfect, the unexamined utopianism that pervades every story about migrating to America is a bit tired. If we were honest about how often “armo” is thrown around in Southern California or how members of the US Armenian Diaspora don’t always conduct themselves in the most, say, diplomatic fashion, well, then this fantasy about racial harmony and social mobility would probably crumble rather quickly. Nor are we really being honest here in the implications about how Armenians supposedly live in other countries. In Russia, as in France and Argentina, where there are many Armenians and other immigrants, slurs are hurled around by the lowest socio-intellectual strata of people. An Armenian last name will actually put you in a very thought-provoking conversation with an educated Russian, which is most of them thanks to legacy of the USSR believe it or not. Armenians in Moscow today are a thriving community with one of the most beautiful churches in the city and a modest cemetery with a chapel that I was lucky enough to visit. It might be worth mentioning these things, though I suppose that may ruin this perfect narrative.

    • This piece wasn’t about the utopianism of coming to America, and if you think Russia is such a great place for Armenians to live, I welcome you to move here! It’s not a coincidence that the prevalent deragatory term for “caucasians” in Russia is “Khachik” (the shorthand for Khachatur, the Armenian name). And there are no more or less “educated” people in Russian than in the US. Most Russians would have a very hard time telling the difference between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Most Armenian youth are afraid to be out by themselves, lest there be a ultra-nationalist mob looking for a “Khachik” to beat up.

      So in a word – you are a *****! Especially if you get fooled by the beauty of a church facade.

  3. When you move you always leave part of you behind. Your sole will always feel kind of lost. It’s especially difficult for these people as they can never return to the place they used to call home nor it even exists as they knew it. Good article, true reflections. I would only comment on one statement “After the genocide took place, these were the people who accepted us. Azeris were the people who accepted us, one man told me.” It’s not true. The Genocide took place in what is called today Azerbaijan. The ethnic Turks that later received new name of Azerbaijanis from Soviet government perpetrated genocide of Armenians in that region. Only advancement of Red Army stopped the massacres. Also, as far as 6 Azerbaijanis killed during pogroms in Sumgait in 1988, those were the killers and rapists who got when Soviet Army entered city to stop pogroms. They attacked the army after it entered the city and died when soldiers returned fire. Now those murderers are considered there fallen heroes and buried in national cemetery for heroes. Their definition of hero is quite different. Murderers of defensless people are heros for them. Just like Ramil Safarov is living hero for axing to death sleeping Armenian officer in Hungary during NATO training courses.

    • Azeris and Turks are not the same ethnic group. In the early 1700’s (during Davit bek), shia Azeris (they had different name back then) and Armenians fought together against the Sunni Osmanli Turks. In March of 1918 we Armenians (Dashnaks and Bolsheviks) massacred 30,000 Azeris. Six months later (when Enver entered Baku), they massacred 30,000 Armenians. It was a Genocide by the Turks and a retaliation by the Azeris. The Azeris have been used by the Turks and the Russians (in 1908) for their nefarious imperial agendas. Just because a few Azeri intellectuals in the end of 19th century embraced pan-Turkism does not mean that the Azeris are the same as Turks.

    • Dear Wikipedia Warrior,
      You should be using wikipedia more effectively and try to research who created Azerbaijan… it just happens to be “Turkish Imperialism” which did, and which you claim also oppressed the Azeris. So they created a never before heard of a nation called ‘Azerbaijan’ so that they can oppress its people?

      “In March of 1918 we Armenians (Dashnaks and Bolsheviks) massacred 30,000 Azeris”

      Yeah sure, silly us for defending ourselves after having more than a million of our innocent civilians murdered in a Holocaust, our country stolen, and facing total annihilation. We should have instead invited all those fanatical murderous criminals over for tea and cookies to discuss the situation in a civilized manner.

    • Dear simpleton, you should try to frame your thoughts more coherently before approaching the keyboard. You should also try to read more carefully, as I never said Turks oppressed the Azeris. They used them. You should also try to get your national mythology straight. Was it Turks or Stalin who created Azerbaijan? When you decide on a myth, then we can work on debunking it.

      I am not sure the murder of Azeri children and women by Dashnaks in March of 1918 can be qualified as defense. Revenge, maybe. When you equate the two, you are thinking just like the “fanatical murderous criminals” that you accuse.

    • Nice try. In fact it is you who is the simpleton, who comes here regurgitating wikipedia content, incidentally mostly written by Azeris and Turks and their lobby, and trying to pass off as some kind of ‘intellectual’. If you don’t have anything constructive to say while pretending to be Armenian, then don’t complain when you get called out on it. What ‘Armenian’ who is interested in a balanced, neutral approach to history would write what you wrote above, barring of course, insanity? Not that what you are interests me, it is your insistence in making yourself look foolish over and over which I find disturbing.

      Speaking of simpletons, who in his right mind claims “Stalin created Azerbaijan”? Get real. In fact if something interests you, get a real book on the subject and read it instead of reissuing silly delusional wiki content here and making yourself look like a buffoon.

    • Hagop,

      What can you expect from a “compatriot” who stated the following in the thread “The ‘Gender Equality Law’ Hysteria in Armenia”, literally: “[…]we Armenians are not above being unethical[…]. For instance, we drove our Azeri brothers out of the country.” How many true compatriots have we seen on AW pages, however diverseheir opinions might be, stating such thing without mentioning that the measure, apparently meant to have taken place during the Artsakh war, was taken after the Azeri barbarity in Sumgait? How many Armenians have we seen on these pages calling Azeri Turks “brothers” after what they have done to the Armenians?

      To propagandist and doomed mind-tilter Vahagn. Azeris and Turks ARE the same ethnic group, because both groups are the result of division of the Oghuz Turkic tribes that in the 11th century AD moved from the Mongolian steppes across the Iranian Plateau into the Armenian Highland and the Caucasus. One smaller group, the Sunni, moved to Anatolia becoming Turks, the other one stayed in the Caucasus, where they eventually converted to Shia. From the 13th century onwards this second group Turkified the Iranian-speaking population of the Persian province of Azerbaijan. Hence, a new identity: religiously Shia – linguistically Turkic. But, regardless, both are the same ethnic group, the same invader nomads from Mongolia and Altay mountains.

    • [Hagop D], [john]:

      Thanks for educating our ‘Armenian’ buddy boy Vahagn. Again.
      I am always eager to work on him first, but got busy and distracted with my other students who are not keeping up in class.
      Good to know other capable professors are available to dispense their knowledge to the nomads.
      Not that it does much good: they insist on remaining ignorant.
      Tradition I guess.
      But we must try: it is our duty as descendants of an intellectually rich, ancient, peaceful, benevolent, creative civilization to share.

      “To those whom much is given, much is expected.”

      Here is another sample of Turkophile propaganda from the ‘Armenian’: {“a sweet miniseries about the love story between a beautiful woman and her first cousin.”} (Vahagn // July 16, 2013 at 3:28 pm // @AW)
      Now, in what culture not only is it acceptable, but a widely practiced custom to marry one’s own cousin ?
      Not amongst Armenians for sure.

    • Buddy boy, we all know that you are eager (i.e. obsessed) to comment on my posts. A result of being debunked over and over, no doubt. Here is some more re-education. If you are referring to yourself and your ilk by “nomads,” you are spot on. You have come to my country (the United States), and you are using it without treating it with the respect that your new homeland deserves. If that is not a nomad, I don’t know what is.

      It’s amusing to observe my simpleton opponents posting in unison. Check out their posts: no substance, just one theme: “We are SHOCKED that an Armenian is capable of stating something we have not heard before.” Guess what, simpletons, Armenians are far more diverse and intelligent that you imagine. If you believe that an Armenian is incapable of stating something new, it only shows your ignorance, nothing more.

      A few words to reply to “john” (the least substant-less of all three above). The Azeris whom we Armenians drove away (and whom I called our brothers) had not done anything to us. Plus, we all are children of God and Homo Erection, which automatically makes us all brothers. If you disagree and still call yourself a God-loving Christian, that’s hypocrisy. As for your history of Azerbaijani people, you need to pick which myth to settle on. So, you say that Azeris and Turks are the same ethnic group because they came to the region 1000 years ago. Then you have to admit that Azeris are a 1000-year old people. On the other hand, if you are saying that the Oghuz folks Turkified the Persians and created a “new” (your word) identity, then you have to concede that Azeris are a new and therefore separate identity from Turks. As I instructed my junior simpleton compatriot Hagopik, you need to choose which of the nationalistic bs myth you are settling upon.

    • A retort to a newly minted “compatriot” Vahagn:

      The Azeris, whom you call “brothers”, while giving the name of God in vain, were driven out as a retaliatory measure for indescribable Turkic savagery exhibited earlier in Sumgait. What do you expect us Armenians—safe for yourself—to do? They will slaughter and burn us alive and we will remain committed God-loving Christians? Our Christian civility demonstrated itself in not slaughtering the Azeris the way and on the scale they slaughtered the Armenians in Azerbaijan. But this is not enough for you, it seems. We were supposed to leave the Azeris in Armenia and nurture them no matter what? Is this what you’re proposing? “The Azeris had not done anything to us”… Do I really need to ask as to what the Armenians have done to the Azeris to be thrown from the balconies, mass raped, butchered, beaten to death, and burnt alive?

      Guess who is talking about brotherly love, giving the name of God? A wicked person who thinks that God’s Word, the Bible, “is merely a book with written text which can be used as a toilet paper”. Cheap, man.

      The “history” of the Azerbaijani people is not mine. I’d say it’s not even theirs, because they invented so much crap in it since their creation in 1918. Let me repeat what scholars generally agree upon. Turks and Azeris are one and the same ethnos originating from the Central Asian Oghuz Turks who intruded our region some 1000 years ago. Oghuz Turks then branched off: one smaller group went further into Asia Minor, other smaller group stayed in the Caucasus. If at this point you’d like to give this second group a name Azeri or Zulu or Pygmy, I’d say that’s your problem. So far, they are the same Oghuz Turks. The second smaller group then converted to Shia denomination of Islam under the influence of the Persian Safavid dynasty. Its members for several centuries were known as Turkmen or Turkomans. Then, from the 13th century, these Turkmen/Turkomans gradually Turkified the Iranian-speaking population of the Persian province of Azarbaijan (“Atrpatakan” in Arm.), thus creating, repeat, a new identity, that is: religiously based on Shia, but ethnically and linguistically being of Turkic origin. In modern times, in Iran, this Turkic-speaking population is known as Azarbaijani. However, the inhabitants of the Republic/Sultanate of Azerbaijan had no national identity whatsoever until 1918. They were known as Caucasian Tatars or Muslims. If their creation in 1918 makes them a 1000-year old people, you tell me. Do they belong to the same ethnic group who invaded the Caucasus and the Armenian Highland 1000 years ago? Technically, you may say so, but under the name Turkic NOT “Azerbaijani” or “Azeri” which was assigned to them (residents of the republic) only in 1918.

      One need not search for myths especially where there is none.

  4. Thank you Erin Henk!!!
    My daughter Elizabeth was born here in USA.
    When she read this article she said: “Wow mom! It’s exactly what you told me about pogroms in Sumgait and Baku”. And I said: “Because it’s true. There could be many lies, but there is only one Truth”. Thank you.

  5. Good article which reflects the truth for the most part but one correction; Armenians and Talish were the first population in Baku who established the city as we see now, when there was no sign of Azeris . Armenians were considered the elite ( not the second class)in the city as they were professors , scientists , artists …. And the number of death is much more than said in Kirovabad, Sumgait and Baku , in contrast to Armenian Azeris who had time to sell their property and leave the country very conveniently without any violence from the Armenian side. That must be mentioned to show how barbaric Azeris are.

    • Ani, whatever you are smoking, I want some too … Azeris sold their properties before being killed and evicted out of their homes? Do you know any of the facts of the conflict? Just take the 600,000 refugees who fled the Azeri towns outside Karabak proper? They had to leave overnight, many women children killed while trying to escape. Have some sense of fairness. Be a patriot, fine. But be a fair-minded person too.

      And Baku has been founded by ARmenians and Talish? Wow! What rock have you climed from under? Baku’s history goes back to XII century, set up after a powerful earthquoake destroyed the old Shamakhi capital of the Baku khanate. But of course, facts, history, fairness do not matter to the likes of you.

    • Ani: I find some factual inaccuracies in posts from time to time, and most of it is usually non-intentional and not like blatantly false. But you are flat out lying when you say Armenians and Talish (who ever the heck they are) were the first to settle Baku. Simply 100% false. Baku as we know it today was founded by a dysnaty of Persianized Arabs.
      .
      “And the number of death is much more than said in Kirovabad, Sumgait and Baku , in contrast to Armenian Azeris who had time to sell their property and leave the country very conveniently without any violence from the Armenian side”
      .
      Oh, ok, that’s nice. Given your zero evidence and clear disregard for any facts, I’ll just take your word for it.

    • “Talish (who ever the heck they are)”

      tsk, tsk, tsk: Et tu, RVDV ?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talysh_people

      and some links from an Armenian site about the plight of Talysh/Talish in Azerbaijan.

      http://panorama.am/en/politics/2013/10/08/a-bayrami/
      http://panorama.am/en/politics/2013/06/20/irib/
      http://panorama.am/en/politics/2013/03/19/azeri-talysh/

      (lots more if you are interested: search term ‘Talysh’)

      RVDV: frankly, I am surprised.
      Someone such as yourself who is intimately familiar with the plight of Kurds, aka the supposedly ‘Mountain Turks’, simply dismissing an indigenous ethnos as “whoever the heck they are” is quite unexpected.

  6. Ani, Axeris herited their barbarism from Central Asian Turkic tribe invaders. Unfortunately Axeri’s violence behavior become part of their undisputed noble civilization…

  7. This article, despite the fact it vividly describes all the atrocities and racism suffered by innocent Armenians at the hands of Azerbaijani mobs in cities and towns where they were supposed to be protected as citizens, it truly depicts the despicable and appalling character of Azerbaijanis. Don’t ever be fooled or try to convince yourselves that these things can happen anywhere when there is turmoil and chaos. Not so at all. Be advised that you are getting a firsthand knowledge of what Azerbaijanis are all about in reality. They are brainwashed, both at home and by their officials, and told all sorts of lies about Armenians and they hold a grudge inside and like cowards when the opportunity presents itself, such as what has been described here, they lash out and show their true colors.

    Never and ever trust an Azerbaijani even if he is your next door neighbor. They are two-faced liars and opportunists who will backstab you. You can not change them because, generation after generation, they have been nurtured to hate you with their fallacies about you. If you ever think you can live with them as neighbors again you are nothing but a simple-minded fool. Even if you lived for a thousand years in Baku, you are no more than a 2nd class citizen and an infidel who should not be trusted.

    I can go on and on about these vile and despicable people but it suffices to remind you that it is because of this very same character of the Azerbaijanis that Armenians should never again live side by side with them. It is because of their loathsome character that Armenians of that region must never again live under their rule. Instead, the Armenians must maintain their free will and independence, grow stronger year after year, and if they are ever threatened again or if need be, they should be prepared and ready to put the fear of God in them and retaliate with outmost ferocity and in a thousand fold. The punishment must fit the crime and we must destroy the criminals at any cost.

  8. I know my comment won’t posted here. But I am amazed how history treated in this article. No word about anti-Azerbaijani pogroms and massacres in Armenia even prior to Sumgayit event. Even more distortion is related to the status of Armenians in Azerbaijan. In USSR they were never second class citizen in Azerbaijan, and enjoyed good jobs and position as well as had an autonomy status, while Azerbaijani community in Armenian SSR hadnot.

  9. Deeraf
    So you were wrong to think that your commment would not be printed here. But, you are also wrong to claimm that there were “anti-Azrbaijani pogroms” in Armenia even before the Sumgait affair. There were certainly anti-Azerbaijani feelings and even mass protests in Armmenia at the time, but there were never pogroms and mass murders on Armenian-Azeris before or after Sumgait. Either you have to substantiate your claim by ciiting the source/s of your information or to apologize for so openly lying and spreading hatred.

  10. Deeraf:

    Apparently you don’t know anything, even when you think you know something: your comment _was_ published by AW: proves how much you don’t know.
    You are new here: AW is generous to our Azerbaijani, Turk and Turkish guests.
    Look for a poster named ‘Karim’ (sometimes ‘Kerim’), for example.
    An Azerbaijani.
    He has been visiting us regularly for a couple of years or so already.
    His voluminous Anti-Armenian posts are published all the time by AW. So there you have it.

    Now on to the meat of the matter.

    {“No word about anti-Azerbaijani pogroms and massacres in Armenia even prior to Sumgayit event.”.}

    Let us review that:
    What anti-Azerbaijani ‘pogroms’ and ‘massacres’ in Armenia ‘even prior to Sumgait’ ?
    PRIOR to Sumgait (1988) ?
    What year ? What month ? Where in Armenia ?
    Give us the facts so we can verify them, since nobody else but you seems to ‘know’ about them.

    Thomas de Waal discusses that in November 1987 some Azerbaijanis arrived in Baku from Kapan, Armenia SSR.
    They claimed they were beaten by Armenians and expelled.
    Let us assume for a minute that they were actually beaten: shameful indeed.
    But nobody was killed.
    So how did you make the fantastic leap from some beatings to ‘pogrom’ or ‘massacre’ ?

    Do you know what happened some time before November 1987 ?
    Armenians in Nagorno-Karabagh were falsely arrested, beaten, and tortured by Azerbaijani cops (ref: same de Waal book and other sources).
    If you want, we can keep going back in time to see who started what, until we reach the Mother of All Events that started it all.

    As to Azerbaijani civilians killed in Armenia:

    After the Sumgait massacre of Armenian civilians in February 1988, after the Kirovabad massacre of Armenian civilians in November 1988, the people of Armenia had had enough. There were interethnic clashes in Northern Armenia (Gugark, Lori region) between Armenian and Azerbaijani civilians. In November 1988. Not before Sumgait.
    Triggered when Armenian survivors fleeing Kirovabad arrived in Armenia. Armenian KGB confirmed at least 25 Azerbaijani civilians were killed in Armenia during those clashes. Azerbaijan claimed about 200. It was wrong. But it was not premeditated, nor was it a State organized massacre targeting Azerbaijanis in Armenia.
    Like it was in Sumgait; in Kirovabad; in Baku.

    And the oppression and terrorizing of indigenous Armenians of Artsakh by foreign invaders started long before 1987.
    From early 1920s to late 1980s Artsakh’s native population of Armenians was reduced from 95% to 75%.
    Armenian Nakhichevan, which was about 50% Armenian, went to 0% Armenian in the same time period.
    All due to planned, slow-motion ethnic cleansing policies of Azerbaijan’s authorities.

    Fact is, you TatarTurks started the cycle of violence and bloodshed when your nomadic ancestors invaded our lands around 1000 years ago.
    Armenians and other indigenous peoples of the area now called ‘Azerbaijan’ had no problems living next to each other.
    All that changed when nomadic Turkic tribes left their homelands near Uyguristan and _invaded_ the Caucasus region.
    Massacring the indigenous peoples. Ethnically cleansing them from their ancestral lands.
    Stealing their lands, properties. Abducting young women, girls, boys.
    Forcibly Islamizing and Turkifying them.

    Proto-Armenians and Armenians have been living where they are for at least 5000 years, as per archeological records.
    I don’t know how long the other indigenous peoples, such as Lezgins, Tats, Talysh, have been there (near Caspian Sea).
    But I know they were there a long time when Turkic tribes invaded around 1000AD.
    Even now, the indigenous peoples are oppressed and discriminated against in Azerbaijan.

    Please don’t forget to visit us again soon.

  11. These kinds of articles are the worst … They look and sound like sophisticated writings and yet are engaged in the most primitive cases of distortions and biases. It is such a one-sides story. Any balanced writing will at least pay a lip service by just a short sentence, ‘True, there are Azeri refugees from Armenia too.’ Fine, don’t mention that there are 5 times as many Azeri refugees, but just at least mention there are some. But of course, you cannot bring yourself to. And there are tons of factual inaccuracies … The Black Baku January events are not related to Armenian deaths, and the 76 people you mention were actually Azeris killed by Soviet troops who came to squash the independence movement. Among them were a bride and groom on their wedding day … I doubt they had gone on pogroms right after their wedding. You mention a two dozen victim in Sumgait and insinuate this as a Genocide. True, all these were tragedies (even if just one innocent person). But have some scale to your accusations, please. And, also, it is a commonly known fact that the first death in the Azeri-Armenian conflict were not in Sumgait, but in Askeran where an Azeri protestor was killed by Armenian mobs.

    Also, after citing former Armenian residents of Baku saying that things had been good before the conflict, then you just glibly throw in “Well, they had been second-rate citizens anyways.” Where did that come from? You present no facts, and just state it blatantly. And you also mention that “they had had to live with Turks”, as if that was such an intolerable thing (even though they had been treated pretty well). This just gives away your own hatred, since to you living next to Azer/Turks is something to bewail … Another factual inaccuracy … You say, all traces of Armenian have been erased off Baku. Fact: the Armenian churches are still standing and taken care of, including the biggest one that sits at the center of Baku, the equivalent of Times Square of New York (i.e., Torgoviy). So, on your march of hatred, stop and checks facts, would you please.

    So what happened? Armenians used to have it good in Baku, and then all of a sudden they had to leave? Why? What happened? To all Armenian Bakuninans … It is a sad situation that you had to live your hometown, and hopefully a future will come soon where you can get to come back or at least be able to visit it freely. But ask yourself this too: had it not occurred to the Armenian leadership and nationalists that their brothers and sisters living in Baku would be in a difficult situation when they launched territorial claims (and acted on them)? I am sure they did! But somewhere in their minds, a calculation must have taken place, implicitly or explicitly. ‘Well, it is their fault that they live there. And too bad! Let them be a collateral damage.” They share some responsibility too for their action’s consequences.

  12. Avery, I just saw your response to Deeraf … I am not sure if he is an Armenian or Azeri, but what I found educational was your instant assumption that he/she, simply by virtue of thinking differently, cannot be an Armenian. Do you really have such a low opinion of Armenians? I don’t. I do accept the possibility that he might be an Armenian eager to think outside the box a little, not much, because he/shde did not say anything that calls us Azeris the right guys … he was just pointing out the existince of the other side to this story. To you, that was just too much!

    And time after time, you keep repeating the outdated Armenian blah-blah about Azeris being newcomers to the region. You seem to keep track of what I post or do not post here. Why then have you not dared to counter any of the scientific DNA studies I have cited disproving this ridiculous claim? Instead, you just keep going, like an Energized bunny, repeating the same old lies.

    • Kerim: Can you, too, think outside the box a little, not much, and accept that what your ilk did to the Armenians in Sumgait, Kirovobad, Baku, and Maragha was an act of savagery? Mind you, I don’t expect an apology: you and your brethren Turks are just not civilizationally capable to apologize. But can you at least accept that an ugly crime has been committed by the Azeris? Or you will resort to Khojali, a pure unfortunate war episode that happened much later than the murders of the Armenians? Also, stop making yourself a laughingstock by this DNA thing. Of course, the Seljuk Turks who invaded Asia Minor and the Caucasus in the 11th century would steal genetic material from the natives, but does this disprove of the fact that before the 11th century there were no Turks, not to mention Azeris (not Persian Azeris, of course) in sight? Really, this Azeri habit of making their nation as old and as indigenious as Armenians, Persians, Assyrians, Kurds, Greeks, Georgians, etc. is deplorable. You may not notice it, but it testifies to some kind of inferiority complex.

  13. Karim, you say this is a ‘biased’ article. The fact remains, the Karabakh conflict was neither in Baku, nor Yerevan. So can you name any such savage acts that the Azeris suffered in Yerevan, as compared to well documented facts of brutal savagery in Baku against Armenians? Azeri criminal thugs went around hunting Azermenians throwing them out of buildings, hunting pregnant Armenian women in hospitals, and whatever else. When did Azeris have to deal with such barbarism? The truth is the Azeris in Yerevan sold their belongings and left. The Armenians in Baku lost everything, including many lives.

    Azeris around the NK region may have lost everything too, but so did Armenians in the region and everywhere else in Azerbaijan. You also claim that Armenians were not second class citizens in Baku. Then state “So what happened? Armenians used to have it good in Baku, and then all of a sudden they had to leave? Why?” – The short answer is that the end of the Soviet Union was at hand that’s why, meaning that the true nature of the Turkic Azeris was once again allowed to flourish, when up until that time, it had been under control by the Soviet authority. And this also answers your comment about Armenians living with Turks/Azeris as if it was a bad thing. You cannot blame us for thinking that it is, living with you guys has proven dangerous to our health and existence throughout history. And that is your fault, not ours.

  14. “These kinds of articles are the worst …”. What a nicely formulated expert opinion! This “Karim” is anything but the Azeri version of “Nejati”, albeit less vulgar and with more memorized text, but carrying out the same failed mission.

  15. GB, I am sorry to hear that the news has not yet reach you … But Wikipedia is totally useless for controversial topics. Whenever there are more than 1 passionate side to the topic/story, the side that wins is not always the right one but the side that is more numerous. For a lot of Armenian-Azeri topics, the entries are usually pro-Armenian because there are way more English-speaking Armenians than Azeris.

    Did you for example know that most universities do accept any quotes from Wikipedia?

    There was even a court hearing where Wikipedia was deemed “inherently unreliable”:
    http://law.marquette.edu/facultyblog/2008/11/24/court-holds-that-wikipedia-entries-are-inherently-unreliable/

    • Karim, what you say about wikipedia is true, however, it is not pro-Armenian like you claim. And there are a lot more Turks and people who seem to be supporting Turkrey on wikipedia than there are Armenians. There are a sizeable number of Azeris too. Armenians, and Turks, Azeris in most cases have opposing viewpoints, thus there is a strong conflict that is always created on common subject matter. Others have similar problems, for example Palestinians and Israelis.

      In my opinion politics is what undermines wikipedia. Wikipedia could have been a very effective learning tool, but conflicts, politics, etc has turned it into a propaganda portal for certain subjects. Anyone can make a claim and provide a “reference” in order to guide the reader into a certain direction, not necessarily based on truth. I believe even wikipedia policy is not for “truth” but more about being properly referenced, meaning previously published. In fact, sometimes I am actually more interested in the references provided than the actual article itself, whether it is credible or not, or whether it would provide a better source to learn about the subject if the book is acquired, etc.

      Also, certain subject matter has a lot of followers, which makes it difficult to get away from sneaking in controversial viewpoints. But for non-controversial subject matter it remains a good source to learn about something that one has a casual interest in. Whenvever I want to find out about someone notable or a term, wikipedia is the best place to start. When it comes to (Armenian/Turk/Azeri) politics or history though, I always approach it with skepticism.

  16. Dear, Erin,
    You have undertaken to cover an tragedy that will never be forgotten or erased from the history of this culturally diverse region. However, your work will not be accomplished or valued if you do not mention what has happened to thousands of Azeris, who fled their homes in Armenia. Dozens of thousands of them, who loved their land, have been uprooted way before Azerbaijan turned into a bloodbath. Our children should never forget what has happened to both Azeris and Armenians so that they would never repeat the mistakes of their parents. But if we continue ignoring the fact that this tragedy has no ethnicity, but dozens of years of political manipulation and greed, our generations will not forgive us.
    Hundreds of thousands of Armenians fled Azerbaijan falling victims of somebody’s political aspirations. Azeris were not their enemies.
    Let our children live in peace!!!

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