Azeri and Other Turkic Peoples in Armenia

Azeri and Other Turkic Peoples in Armenia

:"This article is about Azeris in Armenia. For Azeris in general, see the respective article." The Turkic community in Armenia, which by mostly identified themselves as Azerbaijanis or Azeris for the last two centuries represented a large number but has been virtually non-existent since 1988–1991, when the overwhelming majority of Azeris fled the country as a result of the Nagorno-Karabakh War and the ongoing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. UNHCR estimates the current population of Azeris in Armenia to be somewhere between 30 and a few hundred persons [ [ Second Report Submitted by Armenia Pursuant to Article 25, Paragraph 1 of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities] . Received on 24 November 2004] , with majority of them living in rural areas and being members of mixed couples (mostly Azeri women married to Armenian men), as well as elderly and sick, and thus unable to leave the country. Most of them are also reported to have changed their names and maintain a low profile to avoid discrimination [ International Protection Considerations Regarding Armenian Asylum-Seekers and Refugees] . United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Geneva: September 2003] [ [ Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2003: Armenia] U.S. Department of State. Released 25 February, 2004] .


Upon Seljuk conquests in 10th century, the mass of the Oghuz Turkic tribes who crossed the Amu Darya towards the west left the Iranian plateau, which remained Persian, and established themselves more to the west, in Caucasus and Anatolia. Here they divided into Ottomans, who were Sunni and settled, and Turkmens, who were nomads and in part Shiite (or, rather, Alevi). The latter were to keep the name "Turkmen" for a long time: from the 13th century onwards they "Turkised" the Iranian populations of Azerbaijan, thus creating a new identity based on Shiism and the use of Turkish. These are the people today known as Azeris [cite book |title=The new Central Asia |last=Roy |first=Olivier |url=,M1 |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=2007 |publisher=I.B. Tauris |location= |isbn=184511552X |pages=6 ]

According to the Armenian-American historian George Bournoutian [George A. Bournoutian. "Eastern Armenia in the Last Decades of Persian Rule", 1807 - 1828 (Malibu: Undena Publications, 1982), pp. xxii + 165] :cquote|in the first quarter of the 19th century the Khanate of Erevan included most of Eastern Armenia and covered an area of approximately 7,000 square miles. The land was mountainous and dry, the population of about 100,000 was roughly 80 percent Muslim (Persian, Azeri, Kurdish) and 20 percent Christian (Armenian) After the incorporation of the Erivan khanate into the Russian Empire in 1828, many Muslims (Azeris, Kurds, Lezgis and various nomadic tribes) left the area and were replaced with tens of thousands of Armenian refugees from Persia. Such migrations, albeit on a lesser scale, continued until the end of the 19th century. [ [ Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia: A Legal Appraisal] by Tim Potier. Martinus NijhoffPublishers. 2001. p.2 ISBN 9041114777] ["Asian and African Studies" by Ḥevrah ha-Mizraḥit ha-Yiśreʾelit. Jerusalem Academic Press., 1987; p. 57] By 1832 Muslims in what had been the Erivan khanate were already outnumbered by migrating Armenians. [ [,M1 Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus] by Svante Cornell. Routledge. 2001. p.67 ISBN 0700711627] According to the Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary, by the beginning of the 20th century a significant population of Azeris still lived in Russian Armenia. They numbered about 300,000 persons or 37.5% in Russia's Erivan Governorate (roughly corresponding to most of present-day central Armenia, the Iğdır Province of Turkey, and Azerbaijan's Nakhichevan exclave). [ru icon [ Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary: Erivan Governorate] ] .Thomas de Waal. "Black Garden: Armenia And Azerbaijan Through Peace and War". New York: New York University Press, p. 74. ISBN 0-8147-1945-7] Traveller Luigi Villari reported in 1905 that in Erivan the Azeris (to whom he referred as "Tartars") were generally wealthier than the Armenians, and owned nearly all of the land. [ [ Fire and Sword in the Caucasus] by Luigi Villari. London, T. F. Unwin, 1906: p. 267]

For Azeris of Armenia, the 20th century was the period of marginalization, discrimination, mass and often forcible migrationsBlack Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War by Thomas de Waal ISBN 0814719457] resulting in significant changes in the country's ethnic composition, even though they had managed to stay its largest ethnic minority until the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In 1905–1907 Erivan Governorate became an arena of clashes between Armenians and Azeris believed to have been instigated by the Russian government in order to draw public attention away from the Russian Revolution of 1905. [ru icon [ Memories of the Revolution in Transcaucasia] by Boris Baykov]

Tensions rose again after both Armenia and Azerbaijan became briefly independent from the Russian Empire in 1918. Both quarreled over where their common borders Waal. "Black Garden". p. 127-8.] Warfare coupled with the influx of Armenian refugees resulted in widespread massacres of Muslims in Armenia [ [ Modern Hatreds: The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War] by Stuart J. Kaufman. Cornell University Press. 2001. p.58 ISBN 0801487366] [ru icon [ Turkish-Armenian War of 1920] ] [ [ Turkish-Armenian War: Sep.24 – Dec.2, 1920] by Andrew Andersen] [ru icon [ Ethnic Conflicts in the USSR: 1917–1991] . State Archives of the Russian Federation, fund 1318, list 1, folder 413, document 21] [ru icon [ Garegin Njdeh and the KGB: Report of Interrogation of Ohannes Hakopovich Devedjian] August 28 1947. Retrieved May 31 2007] causing virtually all of them to flee to Azerbaijan. Andranik Toros Ozanian and Rouben Ter Minassian were particularly prominent in the destruction of Muslim settlements and in the planned ethnic homogenisation of regions with once mixed population through populating them with Armenian refugees from Turkey. [ [,+Nationalism,+and+the+Destruction+of+...+By+Donald+Bloxham&lr=&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0 The Great Game of Genocide: Imperialism, Nationalism, and the Destruction] by Donald Bloxham. Oxford University Press: 2005, pp.103-105] Relatively few of the evicted Azeris returned, as according to the 1926 All-Soviet population census there were only 78,228 Azeris living in Armenia, comprising 8.8% of the population. [ The Alteration of Place Names and Construction of National Identity in Soviet Armenia] by Arseny Sarapov] By 1939 their numbers had increased to 131,000. [ru icon [ All-Soviet Population Census of 1939 - Ethnic Composition in the Republics of the USSR: Armenian SSR] . ""]

Between 1948 and 1951, as a result of a Council of Ministers of the USSR's decree titled "Planned measures for the resettlement of collective farm workers and other Azerbaijanis from the Armenian SSR to the Kura-Arax lowlands of the Azerbaijani SSR", the Azeri community in Armenia became partly subject to a "voluntary resettlement" (called by some sources a deportation [ [ Deportation of 1948-1953] . ""] [ Language Policy in the Soviet Union] by Lenore A. Grenoble. Springer: 2003, p.135 ISBN: 1402012985] [Central Asia: Its Strategic Importance and Future Prospects by Hafeez Malik. St. Martin's Press: 1994, p.149 ISBN: 0312103700] ) to Azerbaijan [ [ Armenia: Political and Ethnic Boundaries 1878-1948] by Anita L. P. Burdett (ed.) ISBN 1-85207-955-X] to make way for Armenian immigrants from the Armenian diaspora and to provide workers for newly-irrigated agricultural lands in central Azerbaijan. In those four years 58,000 Azeris according to one source, some 100,000 according to another, left Armenia. This reduced the number of those in Armenia down to 107,748 in 1959. [ru icon [ All-Soviet Population Census of 1959 - Ethnic Composition in the Republics of the USSR: Armenian SSR] . ""] By 1979, Azeris numbered 160,841 and constituted 6.5% of Armenia's population. [ru icon [ All-Soviet Population Census of 1979 - Ethnic Composition in the Republics of the USSR: Armenian SSR] . ""] The Azeri population of Yerevan, that once formed the majority, dropped to 0.7% by 1959 and further to 0.1% by 1989.

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Civil unrest in Nagorno-Karabakh in 1987 led to Azeris' being often harassed and forced to leave icon [ The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict] by Svante Cornell. ""] On 25 January 1988 the first wave of Azeri refugees from Armenia settled in the city of icon [ Karabakh: Timeline of the Conflict] . "BBC Russian"] Another major wave occurred in November 1988 as Azeris were either expelled by the local authorities or fled fearing for their lives. Violence took place as a result of ethnic conflicts; [ [ The Unrecognized IV. The Bitter Fruit of the 'Black Garden'] by Yazep Abzavaty. "Nashe Mnenie". 15 January 2007. Retrieved 1 August 2008] in November 1988, 25 Azeris were killed, according to Armenian sources (of those 20 in the town of Gugark) [ru icon [ Pogroms in Armenia: Opinions, Conjecture and Facts] . Interview with Head of the Armenian Committee for National Security Usik Harutyunyan. "Ekspress-Khronika". #16. 16 April 1991. Retrieved 1 August 2008] ; and 217, according to Azerbaijani sources. [ [ Azerbaijan State Commission On Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing Persons] ]

Thus, in 1988–91 the remaining Azeris were forced to flee primarily to Azerbaijan. [ [ UNHCR U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Citizenship and Immigration Services Country Reports Azerbaijan. The Status of Armenians, Russians, Jews and Other Minorities] ] [ [ Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2004: Armenia] . U.S. Department of State] It is impossible to determine the exact population numbers for Azeris in Armenia at the time of the conflict's escalation, since during the 1989 census forced Azeri migration from Armenia was already in progress. UNHCR's estimate is 200,000 persons.

Present day

With the departure of Azeris, not only did the Azeri cultural life in Armenia cease to exist, but its traces were being vigorously written out of history. In 1990 a mosque located on Vardanants Street was demolished by a bulldozer. [ [ Myths and Realities of Karabakh War] by Thomas de Waal. Caucasus Reporting Service. CRS No. 177, 1 May 2003. Retrieved 31 July 2008] Another Islamic site, the Blue Mosque (where most of the worshippers had been Azeri since the 1760s) has since been often referred to as the "Persian mosque" intending to rid Armenia of the Azeri trace by a linguistic sleight of hand. [de Waal, p.80] Geographical names of Turkic origin were changed en masse into Armenian-sounding ones [ru icon [ Renaming Towns in Armenia to Be Concluded in 2007] . "". 22] (in addition to those continuously changed from the 1930s on) effectively erasing from popular memory the fact that Muslims had once formed a substantial portion of the local population. ["Nation and Politics in the Soviet Successor States" by Ian Bremmer and Ray Taras. Cambridge University Press, 1993; p.270 ISBN 0521432812]

Hranoush Kharatyan, Head of Department on National Minorities and Religion Matters of Armenia, has made the following statement in February 2007: cquote|Yes, ethnic Azerbaijanis are living in Armenia. I know many of them but I can't give numbers. Armenia has signed a UN convention according to which the states take an obligation not to publish statistical data related to groups under threat or who consider themselves to be under threat if these groups are not numerous and might face problems. During the census, a number of people described their ethnicity as Azerbaijani. I know some Azerbaijanis who came here with their wives or husbands. Some prefer not to speak out about their ethnic affiliation; others take it more easily. We spoke with some known Azerbaijanis residing in Armenia but they haven't manifested a will to form an ethnic community yet. [ [ The Azerbaijanis Residing in Armenia Don’t Want to Form an Ethnic Community] by Tatul Hakobyan. "" 26 February, 2007]

Prominent Azerbaijanis from Armenia

*Ashig Alasgar, 19th century poet and folk singer
*Mirza Gadim Iravani, Azeri painter of the mid-19th century
*Mammad agha Shahtakhtinski, Azerbaijani linguist and Member of the State Duma
*Akbar agha Sheykhulislamov, Minister of Agriculture of Azerbaijan in 1918–1920
*Heydar Huseynov, Azerbaijani philosopher
*Aziz Aliyev, Soviet politician
*Said Rustamov, Azerbaijani composer and conductor
*Mirali Seyidov, Azerbaijani philologist
*Mustafa Topchubashov, prominent Soviet surgeon and academician
*Huseyn Seyidzadeh, Azerbaijani film director
*Ahmad Jamil, Azerbaijani poet
*Ramiz Hasanoglu, Azerbaijani film director
*Misir Mardanov, Minister of Education of Azerbaijan
*Ogtay Asadov, Speaker of the National Assembly of Azerbaijan
*Mahmud Karimov, current President of the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan
*Avaz Alakbarov, Azerbaijani economist, ex-Minister of Finance of Azerbaijan
*Khagani Mammadov, Azerbaijani football player
*Ramazan Abbasov, Azerbaijani football player
*Rovshan Huseynov, Azerbaijani boxer

See also

* Azeris
* Erivan khanate
* Blue Mosque, Yerevan
* List of Azerbaijanis
* Demographics of Armenia


External links

* [ Armenia and Azerbaijan: The Remaining] by Zarema Valikhanova and Marianna Grigoryan
* [ "I Always Dream of Baku"] by Alexei Manvelyan

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