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The Importance of Establishing an Azerbaijani Genocide Square

The Importance of Establishing an Azerbaijani Genocide Square

Recently, Azerbaijani people around the world commemorated the Genocide Day of Azerbaijanis. Although most Israelis and Americans are not aware of it, as the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia around World War I in March 1918, armed gangs of Armenian Dashnaks committed an act of genocide against Azerbaijanis, both Jewish and Muslim, killing thousands of Azerbaijani civilians merely for the crime of being Azerbaijani.

Milikh Yevdayev, the leader of the Mountain Jewish Community in Baku, wrote in the Jewish Journal: “After the 1917 October Revolution in Russia, losing Baku and its vast oil reserves was out of the question for the Bolsheviks.   Their leader Vladimir Lenin even once said that Soviet Russia would not survive without the Baku oil.  To fully control Baku and its oil, Bolsheviks, led by Armenian Stepan Shahumyan, and Armenian Dashnaks created an alliance against Baku’s Azerbaijani Muslim population, who were opposing the Bolshevik Dashnak subjugation of Azerbaijan.”

According to him, “The atrocities against Azerbaijani residents of Baku culminated at the end of March 1918 into a real genocide, resulting in the horrific massacre of over 12,000 Azerbaijani Muslims, many of them women and children, within just a few days.  One in five Azerbaijanis living then in Baku were murdered by Armenian Dashnaks with Bolshevik assistance.  The unarmed civilian population of Baku had no chance against the heavily armed 10,000 strong Dashnak-Bolshevik forces.”

Yevdayev added: “This was an unusually brutal set of events.  Armenian nationalists murdered entire families, burned down homes, created mass graves of women and children, with so many mutilated in the most horrific manner possible.  Many were unidentifiable because they had been decapitated.   A young woman was nailed to a wall, while she was still alive.  Elderly couples were thrown into burning buildings to die most painfully.  Children were shot in a row, standing with their mothers.  Bodies were thrown into wells and into the Caspian Sea.”

As Jahangir Zeynaloglu wrote in A Concise History of Azerbaijan, “In Baku, a beautiful national historic building called Ismailiyye was burned down.   The Armenians shelled and burned the New Pir and other mosques.  The Armenian brigands attacked other cities in north-east Azerbaijan.    They destroyed the city of Shemakha and annihilated its entire population.  The Armenians occupied Lenkoran, Salyan, Quba, Hajigabul and Kurdernir and were closing in on Ganja.  The Armenian Dashnaks made use of the Bolsheviks in this crime as well as Bicherakhov, CentroCaspi and other anti-Turkic groups.”

According to Zeynaloglu, “The Armenian Dashnaks who turned the east of Azerbaijan into a scene of carnage continued their atrocities in the south of the country.   211 Azerbaijani villages were destroyed.”  The Armenian Dashnaks continued to slaughter Azerbaijanis literally until a small brigade of Azerbaijanis supported by the Ottomans stopped them.  In total, 50,000 Azerbaijanis and 3,000 Jews who assisted their Muslim neighbors in Guba were slaughtered in this genocide.  

One may ponder, why is the Azerbaijani Genocide of 1918 important now?   After all, it occurred a very long time ago and not many of its survivors are here with us.   I believe it is important because recently, the city of Haifa, the third largest city in Israel, decided to establish an Armenian Genocide Square, but not an Azerbaijani Genocide Square.   In fact, not a single city around the world has established an Azerbaijani Genocide Square.   It is as if this genocide did not exist in the Western mind.   While countless Americans learn in high school about what happened to the Armenians in 1915, they do not learn what happened to the Azerbaijanis three years later in 1918.

If one truly wants to be objective, then the city of Haifa and the West more generally should not be so one sided.   They should establish an Azerbaijani Genocide Square right beside the Armenian Genocide Square in their city, so that people will learn about not just the tragic events of 1915, but also what happened three years later in 1918 to the Azerbaijani people.  

After all, to raise awareness about what happened in 1915 while ignoring what happened in 1918 is nothing more than one-sided propaganda, which has no place among those who seek to study history and commemorate historical events in an objective manner.   The famous Holocaust scholar Elie Wiesel once said, “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”   However, we must bear witness for all of the dead and the living, regardless what their religion and ethnic origin is.  Killing Muslims is just as bad as killing Christians is.  Therefore, the West must stop ignoring the deaths of Muslims as if they were less relevant than those of Christians and an Azerbaijani Genocide Square in Haifa must be established at the soonest possible date.    



Rachel Avraham

Rachel Avraham is the CEO of the Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy and the editor of the Economic Peace Center, which was established by Ayoob Kara, who served as Israel's Communication, Cyber and Satellite Minister. For close to a decade, she has been an Israel-based journalist, specializing in radical Islam, abuses of human rights and minority rights, counter-terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Azerbaijan, Syria, Iran, and other issues of importance. Avraham is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media," a ground-breaking book endorsed by Former Israel Consul General Yitzchak Ben Gad and Israeli Communications Minister Ayoob Kara that discusses how the media exploits the life stories of Palestinian female terrorists in order to justify wanton acts of violence. Avraham has an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Ben-Gurion University. She received her BA in Government and Politics with minors in Jewish Studies and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Maryland at College Park.