Sunday, June 01, 2008

Armenian-Tatar Wars

Armenian-Tatar Wars

Panah khan may be called the prototype of the “Azeris” who never ceased to harass the Armenians to force them out of their homeland and steal their territory. Especially noteworthy are the so-called Armenian-Tatar wars in 1905-1906.

Although it can be safely said that after the fall of the region under Russian rule, Armenians and Tatars lived relatively in peace, the rapid progress of Armenians since 1880s had roused the envy of the Tatars, especially the upper classes. According to Mikael Varandian, Tatar khans, land owners, begs and aghas, were used to seeing Armenians as loyal slaves that didn't dare raise their heads, had preserved certain privileges even under Russian rule and had even usurped vast areas of fertile land in Russian Armenia.

They could neither tolerate the rapid progress of the Armenians in cultural and commercial fields nor could compete with them. Although there were no clashes, the tension was palpable in the period before the conflict broke out.

The jealous hatred of Armenians manifested itself most obviously in Baku, where the “elite” of the Tatar community was centered, among which the bourgeois, the rich and the influential, fanatical clergy that received its fuel for hate speeches from Constantinople.

The Armenians who had migrated to Baku in 1880's, had engaged in buying oil wells from the Tatars along with Russians, Jews and Europeans, and as a result of their industriousness, had rapidly succeeded and in less than thirty years they occupied the highest posts in the oil producing council and other international companies. Consequently, this drew large numbers of Armenian laborers and businessmen from other eastern Armenian provinces. This was unbearable for the Tatars, whose majority was backward, fanatical, illiterate and untalented in business.

Another reason was the struggle of the Armenians the other side of the border to liberate their homeland, along with the demonstrations and revolt in the Caucasus against the Czarist state. This had stupefied the Tatars that had always viewed the Armenians as effeminate and coward slaves who shook before the Turks and the Persians. They now imagined that the same Armenians would someday, after the fall of the Czarist regime, establish their independent homeland and oppress the Tatars. Consequently, they started spreading “Armenian conspiracy” myths.

Not surprisingly the Tatar elite took the side of the Czarists in those days of Russian revolutionary movement. They thought it an opportune moment to crush the revolution and the Armenian hopes by joining forces with the Armenian hating Czarist state. Unable to compete with the Armenians in the cultural and commercial fields, the Tatars opted, like their kin in Constantinople, for their much loved and preferred method, physical extermination. They armed and incited the mobs in Baku, the Russians providing the arms themselves. Hand in hand they “trained” the criminal elements, spread lies about imminent attacks by Armenian Committees and succeeded in this provocation despite the fact that the Tatars were the majority in Baku. Thus, they were already confident that any atrocities against the Armenians would go unpunished and that the government was also on their side.

The clergy on the other hand, fueled the religious fanaticism of the backward mobs and invited them to jihad against the Armenians who they feigned were going to attack Islam and explode their mosques!

The desired pretext didn't come a minute too late. Early February 1905, a group of Russian soldiers were transporting Ashurbegov, a Turkish criminal, from court to prison. The convict tried to escape. The Russians, among whom an Armenian soldier, opened fire and by sheer chance, it was the bullet from the Armenian soldier's gun that killed the criminal. The Turks took notice and cried havoc and decided to take revenge on Armenians. A couple of days passed. On 6th of February Armenians had gathered in the Armenian churchyard. The soldier was among them. A Tatar called Babayev approached and shot and wounded him. The Armenians caught Babayev and handed him to the police, but he got away. Some Armenian youth followed him and caught and killed the offender. This triggered the bloody clashes...

From Luigi Villari's Fire and Sword in the Caucasus:

“In 1858 an attempt was made to extract petroleum from the crude naphtha, and in 1863 the first refinery was founded by the Armenian Melikoff. Armenians were indeed the pioneers of the industry, although Russians and foreigners soon rushed to Baku in large numbers.

The trade of Baku, especially the shipping trade, is wholly in Tartar hands …But in spite of their wealth and the business ability of a few of them, the great majority are mere primitive savages. To the Armenians above all is the development of Baku due, for they were the first to work the oil-fields on a large scale and on modern lines; they perform a large part of the skilled labour, and among them most of the managers, engineers, as well as many capitalists, are to be found. …there are several Englishmen and other foreigners in prominent positions…

The Tartars have always considered Baku as a Tartar city. The Tartar khans have ruled it for centuries, the great bulk of the native population of the whole province is Tartar, …But the Armenians, with their superior education, their greater intelligence and push, have acquired an increasing influence in the town and the industry, and have edged the Tartars out of many professions.

One fact which struck me very forcibly during my stay at Baku was the extreme bitterness of the foreign element against the Armenians; its sympathies, save in two or three instances, seemed wholly on the side of the Tartars.

...Quite apart from the greater personal charm of the Moslem over the Armenian, the views of foreign financiers and managers are greatly influenced by the fact that they are in close commercial competition with the Armenians. …One prominent Englishman said to me that he would be glad to see the whole Armenian nation wiped out!” (All emphases are mine. H.)

The Russian acquisition of the so-called South Caucasus had more disastrous consequences than the breaking up of the Melikdoms of Artsakh; as Villari points out: “Prince Golytzin, who had been busy carrying out his anti-Armenian policy, had a few weeks before executed the confiscation of the Church property; in October his life was attempted. Early in 1904 Prince Nakashidze, a Georgian noble, who as Vice-Governor of Erivan had been actively implicated in the said confiscation, was appointed Governor of Baku. His arrival coincided with a recrudescence of Armeno-Tartar hostility ...he openly encouraged the Tartars, and treated the Armenians with marked coldness...”

He goes on to describe the mundane events of the murder and revenge that led to the Tatar savageries against the Armenians where “…The body of Babaieff was carried in procession through the Tartar quarter, and exposed to view. Had Prince Nakashidze wished to prevent trouble he would have stopped the procession; the sight of the murdered man roused the Moslems to fury, and on the 19th of February they proceeded to massacre every Armenian they came across. The Armenians defended themselves as best they could, but the Tartars were much more numerous and better armed. The authorities remained absolutely passive, and …Prince Nakashidze …replied that he had no troops and could do nothing, although as a matter of fact he had 2,000 men ...The Armenians, however, took vengeance into their own hands, and on May 24th Prince Nakashidze was blown up by a bomb. As for his own guilt in this matter there can, I think, be no doubt whatever.”

Villari arrives at the correct deduction which can be applied to all Turkish crimes: “...The impunity of the Baku massacres encouraged the Tartars in other parts of the country.” In another chapter of his book, Villari gives “an account of the outbreak at Nakhitchevan, which was the outcome of the Baku disturbance”.

Later skirmishes occurred in Shushi and fighting in Baku was resumed on a larger scale in September. Villari gives detailed descriptions of the events of 1905-1906 which explain the worries of the westerners regarding the safety of their business in Baku. This has led some to believe the elimination of the Armenian element from the Baku-Suez oil route was a consequence of these concerns. Villari attests: “Far worse was the situation on the oil-fields. …During the night the Tartars set fire to the Armenian oil properties at Balakhany and Ramany; the derricks, being of wood and impregnated with naphtha, burnt like tinder, and the adjoining buildings were soon in flames. The fires also spread to other non-Armenian properties, and soon a huge cloud of smoke hung like a pall over the oil-fields, with tongues of fire darting up from the burning derricks. Desperate fighting took place wherever Tartars and Armenians met, but this time the former did not have such an easy job as in February.”

Displaying proto-“Azeri” inhumanity Villari recounts, “Numbers of isolated Armenians were caught by the Tartars while trying to escape and shot or cut to pieces. Some were induced to leave their hiding places by promises of safety, and then brutally murdered. At the Melikoff works several Armenians who had taken refuge in a house were burnt to death with kerosene pumped in by the Tartars. …But amid these deeds of savage cruelty there shine also deeds of magnificent heroism. The way in which some Armenians brought women and children to places of safety or got water and provisions for the besieged under a heavy fire was beyond all praise. …In the meanwhile fighting and incendiarism had broken out on the Bibi Eybat oil-fields. The Pitoieff, Mantasheff, and other Armenian properties were set alight, and the properties of the English firms “Oleum” and B. O. R. N. were also damaged.”

It took enormous efforts “to keep the Tartars in check. …At last reinforcements began to arrive from Tiflis and Rostoff, and artillery was got into position, both in the oil-fields and in the town; the troops acted with considerable energy, greatly to the disgust of the Tartars, who expected to find them on their side, or at all events that they should remain neutral.”

The Tatar turned “Azeri” legacy testified by Villari: “...I visited the premises of several oil companies at Bibi Eybat soon after the fires, and the spectacle presented simply defies description. ...On entering the first of these a most appalling scene of destruction met my eyes. Out of the 200 derricks of Bibi Eybat, 118 had been destroyed, and the majority of the other buildings were heaps of black ruins.”

13 September 1905 — in the Paris edition of the New York Herald:

“Holy War Waged
St. Petersburg: The districts of Zangezur and Jebrail are swarming with Tartar bands under the leadership of chiefs, and in some cases accompanied by Tartar police officials. Green banners are carried and a ‘Holy War’ is being proclaimed. All Armenians, without distinction of sex or age are being massacred. Many thousand Tartar horsemen have crossed the Perso-Russian frontier and joined the insurgents. Horrible scenes attended the destruction of the village of Minkind. Three hundred Armenians were massacred and mutilated. The children were thrown to the dogs and the few survivors were forced to embrace Islamism.”

Figure 8

Slaughter of Armenians in Nakhijevan in 1905 by Tatars (that mutated and became “Azeris” around mid 20th century)

Figure 9

Armenian Church Desecrated in 1905 by Tatars (who morphed and became “Azeris” in mid 20th century)

These Turk-becoming barbarities were neither the first nor the last of what the Armenians suffered from these murderous proto-“Azeri” hordes. Massacres of thousands of Armenians were carried out in 1918 and 1920.

The 1918 Ottoman invasion of the Caucasus which aimed at the total annihilation of the Armenian nation forced the Armenians to fight tooth and nail for survival. The desperate battles at Sardarabad, Bash-Abaran and Karakilissa resulted in the defeat of the Ottoman killing machine and the establishment of the Republic of Armenia. The massacres of Armenians however continued everywhere Turks could break into. Within few days in September 1918, some 30,000 Armenians of Baku who had already tasted the Tatar sword in 1905 were slaughtered in an endless chain of Turkish butchery against the indigenous people of the Armenian Highland…

Once again in 1920, the Mussavat “Azerbaijan” committed yet another atrocity right before Sovietization. Following the examples of the Young Turks’ total incineration of Adana in April 1909 with about 30,000 to 35,000 burnt Armenians, and the thugs of the genocidal thief Mustafa Kemal’s attack on Marash in February 1920 and the massacre of 10,000 Armenians, the historic Armenian fortress city Shushi that had been already attacked in 1905-1906 but survived with partial damage, was this time burnt to cinders on March 23, 1920 and about 20,000 Armenians were massacred. Emptied from its Armenian population and as a result of total devastation the administrative center of Artsakh was moved from Shushi to Stepanakert.

Sergo Ordjonikidze, member of the Caucasian Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party who visited Shushi after the tragedy in May 1920, wrote in his memoirs: “Even today I remember with horror the image that we saw in May 1920 in Shushi. The most beautiful Armenian town was destroyed, smashed up to the ground, and laid in ruins, and in draw-wells we saw the dead bodies of little children and women.”

More than five centuries after the fall of the last Armenian kingdom in Cilicia in 1375 AD (smaller duchies held on to their independence for about a century longer) the two and a half year old Republic of Armenia, established by the defeat of the Turkish army that had invaded the Caucasus to finish off what they had started and successfully carried out in Turkish occupied Armenia, was obliterated by another bloody hyena in the shape of the Bolshevik Red Army that occupied the Republic and on November 29, 1920 imposed the Soviet yoke.

On December 2nd the Revolutionary Committee of “Azerbaijan” recognized the sovereignty of Soviet Armenian Republic in Artsakh, Zangezur (Siunik) and Nakhijevan. However, as stated before the Bolshevik-pan-Turkist love affaire soon changed the “brotherly” mood and first Nakhijevan was cunningly - without asking the opinion of the landlord - sacrificed on the diabolical altar of this illegitimate mating in the form of a protectorate (mind you, NOT part) of fake “Azerbaijan” according to the legally void treaty of Moscow on March 16, 1921 signed by the agents of Kemal and Lenin, the rule of both being internationally unrecognized at the time. The protests of the heads of the Armenian SSR fell on deaf ears and after futile attempts to change the decision of the red devils, on July 5th 1921 and in the form of an “autonomous” region, Artsakh was also thrown to the gray wolves to be devoured. Now the Tatars had the free hand to do with the people of Artsakh as they pleased.


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