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Armenians in Azerbaijan are the Armenians who lived in great numbers in Azerbaijanmarker (120,700 as of 1999 Azerbaijani official statistics). According to the statistics, about 400,000 Armenians lived in Azerbaijan in 1989. Most of the Armenian-Azerbaijanis however had to flee the republic, like Azeris in Armenia, in the events leading up to the Nagorno-Karabakh War, a result of the ongoing Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. Atrocities directed against the Armenian population have reportedly taken place in Sumgait (February 1988), Ganja (Kirovabad, November 1988) and Baku (January 1990). Today the vast majority of Armenians in Azerbaijan live in territory controlled by the break-away region Nagorno-Karabakh. (known as the Nagorno-Karabakh Republicmarker and formerly Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast), which declared its unilateral act of independence in 1991 under the name Nagorno-Karabakh Republicmarker but has not been recognised by any country, including Armenia.

Non-official sources estimate the number of Armenians living on Azerbaijani territory outside Nagorno-Karabakh at around 8 000, and almost exclusively comprises persons married to Azeris or of mixed Armenian-Azeri descent.

In Azerbaijan, the status of Armenians, is precarious.. Armenian churches remain closed, because of the large outmigration of Armenians and fear of Azeri attacks.

The Armenians still remaining in Azerbaijan have continued to complain (in private due to fear of attacks) that they remain subject to harassmant and human rights violations and therefore have to hide their identity ..

According to a 1993 Immigration and naturalization service report:


According to 1979 Soviet cencus in Bakumarker lived more than 216 thousand Armenians. 17.5% (40,400 people)of the total population of the city of Kirovabadmarker, 57.7% of the city of Shekimarker, 96% of the city of Shahumianmarker. Almost all the population of Vartashenmarker, the signaficant part of the population of Khanlarmarker, 8.7% of the city of Mingechaurmarker, 7.2% of the city of Sumgaitmarker were Armenians. The 63.2% of the population of Shahumianmarker dsitrict, 23.9% of population of Dashkasanmarker district, and the 18.2% of the population of Khanlarmarker district.

Armenians in Baku and other areas in the Azerbaijani Republic

The Anti-Armenian feelings were aroused because of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh resulting in the exodus of most Armenians from Baku and elsewhere in the republic.

Much of the anti-Armenian sentiments among the Azeri people today stem from Nagorno-Karabakh War and the resulting loss of Nagorno-Karabakh territories as well as some other Azerbaijani regions. The Khojaly Massacremarker (1992) perpetrated by Armenian irregulars against the Azeris also flared up the situation.


However, it should also be noted that among the events precipitating the conflict were pogroms perpetrated by Azeris against ethnic Armenians in the Azeri towns of Sumgait (1988), Kirovabad (Ganjamarker) (1988) and Bakumarker (1990) and that the Azeris themselves committed atrocities against Armenians during the war, such as the attack on the town of Maraghar (1992).

Armenian Churches in Baku

The Armenian churches in Baku include the Armenian Apostolic Church of St. Gregory Illuminatormarker (Sourb Grigor Lousavoritch in Armenian) and the Old Armenian Church (Baku Fortress). At the height of atrocities against the Armenian minorities in Baku in 1990, the Armenian church in Baku was set on fire, but was restored in 2004 and is not used anymore.

Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding territories

Map of the unrecognised Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

Armenians have lived in the Karabakh region since Roman times. In the beginning of the 2 century B.C. Karabakh became a part of Armenian Kingdom as province of Artsakh. In the 14th century, a local Armenian leadership emerged, consisting of five noble dynasties led by princes, who held the titles of meliks and were referred to as Khamsa (five in Arabic). The Armenian meliks maintained control over the region until the 18th century. In the early 16th century, control of the region passed to the Safavid dynasty, which created the Ganja-Karabakh province (beglarbekdom, bəylərbəyliyi). Despite these conquests, the population of Upper Karabakh remained largely Armenian..

Karabakh passed to Imperial Russiamarker by the Kurekchay Treaty, signed between the Khan of Karabakh and Tsar Alexander I of Russia in 1805, and later further formalized by the Russo-Persian Treaty of Gulistan in 1813, before the rest of Transcaucasia was incorporated into the Empire in 1828 by the Treaty of Turkmenchay. In 1822, the Karabakh khanate was dissolved, and the area became part of the Elisabethpol Governorate within the Russian Empiremarker.

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Karabakh became part of the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republicmarker, but this soon dissolved into separate Armenianmarker, Azerbaijanimarker, and Georgianmarker states. Over the next two years (1918-1920), there were a series of short wars between Armenia and Azerbaijan over several regions, including Karabakh. In July 1918, the First Armenian Assembly of Nagorno-Karabakh declared the region self-governing and created a National Council and government. Later, Ottoman troops entered Karabakh, meeting armed resistance by Armenians.

In April 1920, while the Azerbaijani army was locked in Karabakh fighting local Armenian forces, Azerbaijan was taken over by Bolsheviks. Subsequently, the disputed areas of Karabakh, Zangezur, and Nakhchivanmarker came under the control of Armenia. During July and August 1920, however, the Red Army occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, Zangezur, and part of Nakhchivanmarker. Later on, for basically political reasons, the Soviet Union agreed to a division under which Zangezur would fall under the control of Armenia, while Karabakh and Nakhchivan would be under the control of Azerbaijan.

With the Soviet Union firmly in control of the region, the conflict over the region died down for several decades. With the beginning of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the question of Nagorno-Karabakh re-emerged.

Armenians allege that this followed the Azerbaijani and Soviet military forces jointly starting "a campaign of violence to disperse Armenian villagers from areas north and south of Nagorno-Karabakh, a territorial enclave in Azerbaijan where Armenian communities have lived for centuries".

"However, the unstated goal was to "convince" the villagers half are pensioners to relocate permanently in Armenia." This military action was officially called "Operation Ring," because its basic strategy consists of surrounding villages (included Martunashen and Getashen) with tanks and armored personnel carriers and shelling them. Azerbaijani villagers were allowed to come and loot the empty Armenian villages, while more than ten thousand Armenian villagers have been forced to leave Azerbaijan.

The majority Armenian population started a movement that culminated in the unilateral declaration of independence.

Armenians in Nakhchivan

The cemetery at Julfa depicted in a photograph taken in 1915.

Armenians had a historic presence in Nakhchivan (In Armenian Նախիջևան). According to an Armenian tradition, Nakhchivan was founded by Noah, of the Abrahamic religions. It became part of the Satrapy of Armenia under Achaemenid Persia circa 521 BC. In 189 BC, Nakhchivan was part of the new Kingdom of Armenia established by Artaxias I. In 428, the Armenian Arshakuni monarchy was abolished and Nakhchivan was annexed by Sassanid Persia. In 623 AD, possession of the region passed to the Byzantine Empire. Nakhchivan itself became part of the autonomous Principality of Armenia under Arab control. After the fall of the Arab rule in the 9th century, the area became the domain of several Muslim emirates of Arran and Azerbaijan. Nakhchivan became part of the Seljuk Empire in the 11th century, followed by becoming the capital of the Atabegs of Azerbaijan in the 12th century. In the 1220s it was plundered by Khwarezmians and Mongols. In the 15th century, the weakening Mongol rule in Nakhchivan was forced out by the Turcoman dynasties of Kara Koyunlu and Ak Koyunlu.

In the 16th century, control of Nakhchivan passed to the Safavid dynasty of Persia. In 1604, Shah Abbas I Safavi, concerned that the lands of Nakhchevan and the surrounding areas would pass into Ottoman hands, decided to institute a scorched earth policy. He forced the entire local population, Armenians, Jews and Muslims alike, to leave their homes and move to the Persian provinces south of the Aras River. Many of the deportees were settled in the neighborhood of Isfahanmarker that was named New Julfamarker since most of the residents were from the original Julfamarker (a predominantly Armenian town).

After the last Russo-Persian War and the Treaty of Turkmenchay, the Nakhchivan khanate passed into Russian possession in 1828. The Nakhchivan khanate was dissolved, and its territory was merged with the territory of the Erivan khanate and the area became the Nakhchivan uyezd of the new Armenian Oblast, which was reformed into the Erivan Governorate in 1849. A resettlement policy implemented by the Russian authorities encouraged massive Armenian immigration to Nakhchivan from various parts of the Ottoman Empire and Persia. According to official statistics of the Russian Empire, by the turn of the 20th century Azerbaijanis made up 57% of the uyezd's population, while Armenians constituted 42%.

During the Russian Revolution of 1905, conflict erupted between the Armenians and the Azeris, culminating in the Armenian-Tatar massacres. In the final year of World War I, Nakhchivan was the scene of more bloodshed between Armenians and Azerbaijanis, who both laid claim to the area. By 1914, the Armenian population was at 40% while the Azeri population increased to roughly 60%. After the February Revolution, the region was under the authority of the Special Transcaucasian Committee of the Russian Provisional Government and subsequently of the short-lived Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republicmarker. When the TDFR was dissolved in May 1918, Nakhchivan, Nagorno-Karabakh, Zangezur (today the Armenian province of Syunikmarker), and Qazakhmarker were heavily contested between the newly formed and short-lived states of the Democratic Republic of Armeniamarker (DRA) and the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR). In June 1918, the region came under Ottoman occupation. Under the terms of the Armistice of Mudros, the Ottomans agreed to pull their troops out of the Transcaucasus to make way for the forthcoming British military presence.

After a brief British occupation and the fragile peace they tried to impose, in December 1918, with the support of Azerbaijan's Musavat Party, Jafar Gulu Khan Nakhchivanski declared the Republic of Aras in the Nakhchivan uyezd of the former Erivan Governorate assigned to Armenia by Wardrop. The Armenian government did not recognize the new state and sent its troops into the region to take control of it. The conflict soon erupted into the violent Aras War. By mid-June 1919, however, Armenia succeeded in establishing control over Nakhchivan and the whole territory of the self-proclaimed republic. The fall of the Aras republic triggered an invasion by the regular Azerbaijani army and by the end of July, Armenian troops were forced to leave Nakhchivan City to the Azeris. In mid-March 1920, Armenian forces launched an offensive on all of the disputed territories, and by the end of the month both the Nakhchivan and Zangezur regions came under stable but temporary Armenian control. In July 1920, the 11th Soviet Red Army invaded and occupied the region and on July 28, declared the Nakhchivan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic with "close ties" to the Azerbaijan SSR. A referendum was called for the people of Nakhchivan to be consulted. According to the formal figures of this referendum, held at the beginning of 1921, 90% of Nakhchivan's population wanted to be included in the Azerbaijan SSR "with the rights of an autonomous republic. The decision to make Nakhchivan a part of modern-day Azerbaijan was cemented March 16, 1921 in the Treaty of Moscow between Bolshevist Russia and Turkey. The agreement between the Soviet Russia and Turkey also called for attachment of the former Sharur-Daralagez uyezd (which had a solid Azeri majority) to Nakhchivan, thus allowing Turkey to share a border with the Azerbaijan SSR. This deal was reaffirmed on October 23, in the Treaty of Kars.

During the Soviet era, Nakhchivan saw a significant demographic shift. Its Armenian population gradually decreased as many emigrated to the Armenian SSR. In 1926, 11% of region's population was Armenian, but by 1979 this number had shrunk to 1.4%. The Azeri population, meanwhile increased substantially with both a higher birth rate and immigration (going from 85% in 1926 to 96% by 1979). The Armenian population saw a great reduction in their numbers throughout the years repatriating to Armeniamarker.

Some Armenian political groupings of the Republic of Armeniamarker and the Armenian diaspora, amongst them most notably the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) claim that Nakhchivan should belong to Armenia. However, Nakhchivan is not officially claimed by the government of Armenia. But huge Armenian religious and cultural remnants are witness of the historic presence of Armenians in the Nakhcivan region (Nakichevan, sometimes Nakhijevan in Armenian). Recently the Medieval Armenian cemetery of Jugha (Julfa) in Nakhchevanmarker, regarded by Armenians as the biggest and most precious repository of medieval headstones marked with Christian crosses – khachkars (of which more than 2,000 were still there in the late 1980s), has completely vanished in 2006.

Famous Armenians from Azerbaijan

See also


  1. Demographic indicators: Population by ethnic groups
  2. Memorandum from the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights to John D. Evans, Resource Information Center, 13 June 1993.
  3. "Implementation of the Helsinki Accords: Human Rights and Democratization in the Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union" (Washington, DC: U.S. Congress, Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, January 1993), p. 118.
  4. Assessment for Armenians in Azerbaijan, Minorities At Risk Project
  5. Azerbaijan: The status of Armenians, Russians, Jews and other minorities, report, 1993, INS Resource Information Center, p. 10
  6. United States Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1992 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, February 1993), p. 708
  7. "Implementation of the Helsinki Accords: Human Rights and Democratization in the Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union" (Washington, DC: U.S. Congress, Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, January 1993), p. 118
  9. “Noravank” Scientific-Research Foundation: The immigration of the population of Armenia and the tendencies in the near future by Vladimir Khojabekyan
  10. Pogroms
  11. Survivors of the Maraghar Massacre , Christianity Today.
  12. Cornell, Svante E. The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict. Uppsala: Department of East European Studies, April 1999.
  13. The Nagorno-Karabagh Crisis: A Blueprint for Resolution, New England Center for International Law & Policy
  14. HRW Report on Soviet Union Human Rights Developments, 1992

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