Every 31 March, millions of Azerbaijanis around the globe commemorate the tragedy of their people, exposed to oppressions and genocides through the last two centuries.
This year the people of Azerbaijan once again pay their respect to victims of genocides and ethnic cleansing, conducted as a result of imperialistic policies and Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan. As a result of inhuman policy that has been conducted stage by stage, Azerbaijanis were expelled from their native historical lands, became refugees and internally displaced persons, exposed to massacres and genocides.
It started with the expulsion of Azerbaijanis by Armenians, who were settled in the ancestral Azerbaijani lands, following the Turkmanchay peace treaty of 1828 that ended the Russian-Persian wars. Perpetrated by the Armenian nationalists’ gross human rights violations, ethnic cleansing and deportation of Azerbaijani population continued throughout the 20th century, in 1905-1907, 1918-1920, 1948-1953 and 1988-1993.
Mass expulsion of Azerbaijanis from the territories of present Armenia and Daghlig Karabakh (Nagorno Karabakh), violence and barbarism toward the peaceful population became particularly evident in the beginning of the XX century, especially in 1905-1907. Hundreds of villages were burnt in the provinces of Zangazur, Iravan, Nakhchivan, Ordubad, Gazakh and Karabakh of Azerbaijan, all from child to an old were cruelly killed. The next mass extermination of the Azerbaijanis began on March 31, 1918 in Baku, then in Shamakhi, Guba, Iravan, Zangazur, Karabakh, Nаkhchivan, Gars. About 2 million Azerbaijanis were murdered and forcefully expelled from their lands during these two exterminations (1905-1907, 1918-1920).
Then, in December 23 of 1947 the Council of the Ministries of the USSR adopted a decision “About deportation of collective-farmers and other Azerbaijanis from Armenia SSR to Kur-Araz lowland in Azerbaijan SSR”. This was the next historical crime against Azerbaijani people. As a result of this decision more than 150 thousand Azerbaijani people were expelled from their ancestral lands with force and violence. During realization of this decision thousands of people, including children and elderly were died because of strong climate change, physical shock and moral genocide.
Furthermore, Azerbaijan also suffered and continues to suffer from the Republic of Armenia’s insidious, destructive policy of annexation and ethnic cleansing. As a result of the Armenian aggression and ethnic cleansing carried out against Azerbaijani population of Nagorno-Karabakh and its adjacent territories 20 percent of the territory of Azerbaijan still remains under occupation of Armenia and more than 1 million Azerbaijanis become refugees and internally displaced persons.
On 26 March 1998, in commemoration of all the tragic crimes perpetrated against the Azerbaijani people, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan H.E. Mr. Heydar Aliyev signed the Decree proclaiming 31 March as a Day of Genocide of the Azerbaijanis.
Addressing the people on commemoration of this day, current President of the Republic of Azerbaijan H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev said: “Purposes of the policy pursued by Armenian nationalists against our nation over nearly two hundred years were using military, political, and ideological and other methods to oust Azerbaijanis from their native lands, annihilate them physically to seize new territories and, finally, create the mythical state of “great Armenia”. It was also stressed that as a result of this crafty policy, historical Azerbaijani lands were seized by Armenians, with hundreds of thousands of our compatriots turned into refugees and internally displaced, and tens of thousands of them killed.
Commemoration of 31 March is the demonstration of the national memory about the tragic events in the history of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani people. During Soviet domination, Azerbaijan was unable to commemorate this tragedy, but after the restoration of independence, the people of Azerbaijan take serious steps on the path of researching and preventing genocide, as well as education about its history.