Posts Tagged ‘Karapagh’

(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee [ANEC])

Fall of Ardzevashen
 (August 8, 1992)


The Soviet policy of “divide and rule” created ethnic enclaves (piece of land surrounded by foreign territory) under various pretexts, such as the incorporation in Azerbaijan of the highlands of the historically Armenian region of Karapagh as an autonomous region (the lowlands were directly annexed to that country). It also created exclaves (piece of land politically attached to a larger piece, but surrounded by foreign territory), such as Ardzevashen, part of the Kegharkounik province of Armenia.

The village of Ardzevashen was founded in 1854 with the name of Bashkend by Armenians from Shamshadin, although an inscription on the St. Hovhannes church of the village, dated to 1607, attests to an earlier Armenian presence on the site.

The population of the village was entirely of Armenian origin. It had a surrounding territory of 40 square kilometers (15.5 square miles) and enjoyed a town status in the 1980s, managing four factories. This included a branch of Haykork, the Armenian state carpet company.

In May 1991, during the last months of the Soviet Union, when the conflict for Karapagh had already started, the inhabitants of the village surrendered their weapons to Soviet military units to avert an imminent occupation.

Indeed, Azerbaijan was prone to occupy those portions of Armenian territory that were completely landlocked, and one of them was Ardzevashen. After a four-day resistance headed by the unit 016 of motorized artillery of Vanatsor, Ardzevashen was surrendered to Azerbaijani armed forces on August 8, 1992. According to The New York Times, Azerbaijan announced the “liberation” of the town, destroying enemy tanks and weaponry, and killing 300 Armenian “brigands,” while Armenian reports did not mention any dead, but said that 29 people were “missing without trace.” The bodies of 12 Armenian soldiers were later delivered; one of the Azerbaijani colonels declared: “They fought until the last bullet. They are the pride of your nation.”

The Armenian population was given one hour to evacuate the village. According to the Regional Administration of Kegharkounik, 719 families (around 2,800 people) were displaced after its occupation. A total of 664 families resettled in the towns of Chambarak and nearby villages, and the rest went to other provinces. The migrants were not considered a separate commune, but the government of the Republic decided to create a separate working staff, financed by the national budget. This staff takes care of problems related to documents and workbooks of displaced people, as well as claims of property rights and improvement of living conditions.

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(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee [ANEC])


Mountainous Gharapagh
Becomes Part of Soviet Azerbaijan
(July 5, 1921)

The establishment of the Soviet regime in the Southern Caucasus between April 1920 and April of 1921 included the solution of ethno-territorial conflicts such as that of Mountainous Gharapagh, which had been in dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan since 1918.

Soviet Russia had recognized the mountainous area of Gharapagh as a disputed zone and, in August 1920, after an agreement signed by Soviet Russian and the Republic of Armenia, Russian forces had been temporarily deployed in the region.

On November 30, 1920, one day after the Armenian Bolsheviks had proclaimed Armenia as a Soviet republic (the power was actually transferred on December 2), the Revolutionary Committee of Azerbaijan (the highest executive power of the country at the moment) recognized that Gharapagh, Zangezur, and Nakhichevan, territories formerly pretended by Azerbaijan, were indivisible part of Armenia. GharabaghMap

The National Council of Azerbaijan, on the basis of the agreement signed by Soviet Azerbaijan and Soviet Armenia, proclaimed Mountainous Gharapagh as indivisible part of Armenia by the declaration of June 12, 1921. On the basis of the November 30, 1920 declaration and the agreement signed by the Soviet governments of Azerbaijan and Armenia, Armenia also made a similar declaration.

The text of the decree approved by the government of Armenia was published in the Armenian and Azerbaijani press (Bakinski rabotchi, organ of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan, June 22, 1921), thus confirming legally the union of Mountainous Gharapagh to Armenia. In the context of international law, this was the last legal act regarding Mountainous Gharapagh during the Communist regime.

The fact was totally overlooked by the Caucasian Bureau of the Communist Party of Russia, which invited to a plenary session on July 4, 1921 in Tbilisi, where the union of Mountainous Gharapagh to Soviet Armenia was confirmed as a fact. However, by suggestion of Moscow and the immediate intervention of Joseph Stalin, the decision of the previous day was revised in the wee hours of July 5 and a new resolution was imposed, which established that Mountainous Gharapagh would be part of Soviet Azerbaijan as an autonomous region. This resolution was an unprecedented legal act in the history of international law, when the party body of a third country (Russia), without any legal grounds or jurisdiction, decided the status of Mountainous Gharapagh after another decision had been agreed before.

The Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia were included in the process of the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in December 1922. Despite the resistance of the Armenian population, on a small fraction of the territory of Gharapagh, by decision of the Central Executive Revolutionary Committee of Soviet Azerbaijan, on July 7, 1923, the Autonomous Region (Oblast) of Mountainous (Nagorno) Gharapagh was formed as part of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan, without having any common borders with Armenia.

This would not solve, but just freeze the question of Gharapagh for the next six decades and half, until the popular explosion of 1988 and the beginning of the Gharapagh movement.


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By David Luhrssen

We don’t often hear Armenian spoken in a film shown at Milwaukee theaters, or see the crowded streets of Yerevan or the Caucasus Mountains looming over the grassy uplands of Karabakh. But Armenia is the unusual setting for Here, a thoughtful film by U.S. director Braden King, starring Ben Foster as Will, a young American sent to Artsakh to make a detailed map of the countryside, and Lubna Azabal as Gadarine, the local photographer who becomes his guide and love interest.

A quiet film, introducing its characters and situations slowly, Here shows the enduring hospitality of the Armenian people along with the divisions between rich and poor and the disapproval sometimes faced by independent-minded women such as Gadarine. To her father and brother (but not her mother!), she’s the prodigal daughter. The rocky landscape is studded with the khumpets of the holy sites and the soundtrack includes the lively rhythms of contemporary Armenian pop music as well as the timeless melodies of the Badarak.

Co-sponsored by Armenian Fest, Here will be shown three times at the Milwaukee Film Festival: 9:30 p.m., Sept. 23 at the Oriental Theatre; 4:15 p.m., Sept. 24 at the Northshore Theatre; and 7:15 p.m., Sept. 26 at the Ridge Cinema.

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