…by David Boyajian
Corrupt, sadistic, and run by a hereditary dictatorship, Azerbaijan is unfit to rule over others, least of all Armenian Christians. Yet that iniquity could materialize due to the recent 44-day war by Azerbaijan, Turkey, and terrorist jihadis against the Artsakh Republic (Nagorno-Karabagh) and Armenia.
The November 9, 2020 armistice could force democratic, Armenian-governed Artsakh (pop. 150,000) into Azerbaijan’s (pop. 10 million) despotic grip.
Since the war began, though, mainstream media have rarely pointed out Azerbaijan’s depravity and long-standing abuse of Armenians.
In the 1920s, Stalin transferred the ancient Armenian provinces of Artsakh — 96% Armenian — and Nakhichevan to Turkey’s friend, Azerbaijan. The delusional tyrant mistakenly believed that this would lure Turkey into the USSR’s web. That injustice has brought Artsakh nothing but agony. Even before the transfer, Azerbaijan had been massacring Armenians in Artsakh and Baku.
Unlike 3000-year-old Armenia, no country named Azerbaijan existed before 1918. Its inhabitants didn’t even call themselves Azeris until the 1930s.
Artsakh’s long nightmare
Artsakh was officially autonomous within Soviet Azerbaijan, but the latter held the real power. Artsakh’s Armenians were persecuted due to raw Azeri fanaticism, not the Soviet system.
- Armenians sank from 96% to 76% of Artsakh’s population by 1988, the result of repression, deportations, economic warfare, and murder by Azerbaijan.
- Then-KGB Major General Heydar Aliyev (Azeri dictator Ilham Aliyev’s father) acknowledged importing Azeris into Artsakh to replace Armenians that he’d exiled.
- Azerbaijan maliciously closed many Armenian schools, orphanages, and libraries.
- Armenian language inscriptions on ancient monuments were depicted as Azeri.
- Museums were looted of artifacts that proved Artsakh to be an ancient Armenian province.
- Even the name Artsakh was banned.
- Large quantities of meat, dairy products, and wool were directed to Azerbaijan instead of to needy local Armenians.
- Baku frequently imprisoned local Armenian leaders who protested, but gave Azeri gangs free rein.
Artsakh voted to exit Azerbaijan in accordance with Soviet law in 1988 and international law in 1991 as the USSR dissolved. In response, Azerbaijan massacred Armenian civilians in Artsakh, Baku, Ganja, and Sumgait.
The ensuing war ended in 1994 in victory for Artsakh’s Armenians. Armenians fled the rest of Azerbaijan, and Azeris fled Armenia.
Artsakh became self-governing, reformist, and widely respected. It maintained representative offices in Washington, D.C., Europe, and elsewhere.
Azerbaijan proceeded to gorge on revenue from its gas and oil fields. Yet it still mirrored its Soviet self: repressive, corrupt, violent, and anti-Armenian. Artsakh became doubly determined to never again submit to Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan’s post-independence horrors
- The U.S. State Department says Azerbaijan has “significant human rights” problems, including: unlawful/arbitrary killing; torture; arbitrary detention; political prisoners; heavy restrictions on the press; incarceration of/violence against journalists; severe restrictions on political participation; systemic government corruption; torture of [LGBTQ] individuals; and the worst forms of child labor. Azerbaijan “did not prosecute or punish most officials who committed human rights abuses.”
- The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom cites Azerbaijan for “engaging in or tolerating severe violations of religious freedom.”
- Europe’s Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) named President Ilham Aliyev its 2012 “Organized Crime and Corruption Person of the Year.”
- Azerbaijan is guilty of “arbitrary arrest and detention of opposition politicians, civil society activists, human rights defenders and critical journalists,” says the European Court of Human Rights.
- Freedom House ranks Azerbaijan as “Not Free” — worse than the Congo and Cuba.
- Reporters Without Borders rates Azerbaijan’s press freedom as 168th out of 180 countries, — worse than Pakistan and Somalia.
- International human rights organizations have rebuked Azerbaijan for repressing and forcibly assimilating its Lezgin and Talysh minorities.
- Azeri Lieutenant Ramil Safarov was prosecuted and imprisoned for beheading Armenian Lieutenant Gurgen Margaryan at a 2004 NATO program in Hungary. Under questionable circumstances, Hungary later dispatched Safarov to Azerbaijan. He was hailed as a national hero, awarded a medal, and promoted.
- Azerbaijan has perpetrated the utmost brutality since the earliest days of Artsakh’s struggle and during the recent war. Azeri troops have abused, mutilated, and beheaded Armenian civilians and soldiers. Armenian POWs have been summarily executed. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have decried these war crimes. Azerbaijan has still not released all POWs despite pledging to do so and continues its attacks in violation of the armistice.
- In the 1990s, Azerbaijan imported Afghan Mujahedin, Chechens, Pakistanis, and terrorist Turkish Grey Wolves to fight Armenians. The recent war saw Azerbaijan and Turkey bring in thousands of jihadis and ISIS terrorists from Syria, Libya, and elsewhere. In so doing, Azerbaijan has violated the UN convention against using mercenaries. Draw the appropriate conclusion about a political culture that deploys terrorists and thugs.
- Like Turkey, Azerbaijan has long desecrated and destroyed multitudes of Armenian churches and monuments. YouTube’s “The New Tears of Araxes” shows Azeri soldiers obliterating a large 9th century Armenian cemetery in Nakhichevan. UNESCO is being prevented from inspecting Armenian monuments Azerbaijan has just taken control of.
- The Azerbaijani Laundromat was — and may still be — a multi-billion dollar money laundering racket run by Azeri kleptocrats and the Aliyev clan. German, Italian, Slovenian, and other European officials were bribed to whitewash Azerbaijan’s human rights record.
- Azerbaijan covertly bankrolled a PR junket to Baku in 2013 for several Congresspersons and 32 staff from IL, NJ, NM, NY, OK, and TX. They were lavished with rugs and other gifts which the Office of Congressional Ethics ultimately made them surrender. Azerbaijan funded the junket through a Dallas-based organization affiliated with renegade Turkish imam Fethullah Gülen.
- Human Rights Watch says Azerbaijan intentionally struck Artsakh’s “homes, businesses, hospitals, schools, the local water supply“ and Holy Savior Cathedral in the recent war.
- ‘‘Within the next 25 years, there will be no state of Armenia in the South Caucasus. These people … have no right to live in this region,” declared Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry spokesperson in 2004. A year later, Baku’s mayor told a German delegation, “Our goal is the complete elimination of Armenians. You Nazis already eliminated the Jews in the 1930s and 40s, right?”
“We [Azerbaijanis] must kill all Armenians — children, women, the elderly. [We] need to kill [them] without [making a] distinction.” After Azeri soccer manager Nurlan Ibrahimov posted that in October, the Union of European Football Associations banned him.
These kinds of venom have resulted in the horrors we see above.
- Some Azeris have threatened to bomb Armenia’s nuclear power plant. Last year Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry formalized the threat.
- In sheets of newly released Azerbaijani postage stamps, an Azeri in a hazmat suit is spraying Artsakh with chemicals, suggesting Armenians are vermin to be exterminated.
- Azerbaijan’s territorial ambitions have included not just Artsakh but also Armenia. In December, Pres. Aliyev once again claimed parts of Armenia while beside him Turkish President Erdogan glorified Turkey’s 1915-23 genocide against millions of Armenians and Assyrian and Hellenic Christians. Azerbaijan and Turkey’s intentions are obvious.
Now you know
Now you know why Artsakh’s Armenians have fought and died to live free from Azeri rule. In their place, you’d do the same.
Artsakh is at least as deserving as other states that since the 1990s have achieved self-determination through international support, such as East Timor, Montenegro, and South Sudan.
Regardless of the recent war’s outcome, if the international community cannot see the justice of Artsakh’s case and effectuate a remedy consistent with self-determination, then there is no justice.
David Boyajian is an independent writer whose efforts focus on commentary and investigative reports regarding the Caucasus. His work can be found at http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/David_Boyajian.