Famous Lithuanian historian authors article on genocidal policy of Azerbaijan against Armenians
YEREVAN, MARECH 29, ARMENPRESS. The article of famous Lithuanian historian Algis Kasperavičius headlined “Why call it genocide, when it is not one?” was published in http://www.bernardinai.lt news website . ARMENPRESS reports the author refers to the false claims of Azerbaijanis about the so-called “Khojaly genocide”, as well as the genocidal policy against Armenians in Azerbaijan and the lobbyist activities of Azerbaijanis in Lithuania and other countries.
The article runs as follows,
“Recently, on February 25, 2019, Irma Ąžuolė (it is probably a nickname) published an article Unbelievable: Genocide in the Modern World the title of which perfectly reflects the reality. Genocides are still going on in African states - Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo (it is the official name of the state), Sudan and also in the Middle East - Iraq and Syria, where the so called ISIS and other islamic extremist groups have massively killed local Christians, yazidis and Shiite Muslims. Middle Eastern Christians whose ancestors were the first to accept Jesus Christ’s teaching became martyrs as well.
They had to experience another genocide a hundred years later after surviving the first one. At the beginning of the 20th century, between 1915 and 1923, Turkish authorities organized massacres against Christians in Asia Minor and the Middle East. In the latter, massacres were not as massive as in Asia Minor. Felix Koneczny, a Polish historian and philosopher, who was also a professor in Vilnius University at the beginning of the 20th century, wrote the following in his book Byzantine Civilization: “In Asia Minor (i. e. present Turkey) there lived 9 millions of Muslims and 3 millions of Christians. 10 years later, Christians were almost killed off. In 1923, the greatest countries recognized the whole Asia Minor as a legit territory of Ottoman Empire.” With a silent permission and support of the greatest countries, Christianity was almost destroyed. However, Christian minorities remained in Arab countries - Lebanon, Iraq and Syria. In the latter two, they still experience the horror of genocide. A forgotten thinker of the 19th century once wrote, that history repeats itself. It is a tragedy if it happens the first time and a comedy when it repeats itself. Unfortunately, for the Middle Eastern Christians, the second time was a tragedy as well.
In the article, I. Ąžuolė calls tragic events in Khodjali village a genocide, committed in Nagorno-Karabakh during the war between local Armenians and Azerbaijani forces. On February 26, 1992, Nagorno-Karabakh forces began a military operation near Khodjali, where, according to I. Ąžuolė, on 940 km2 there lived 7 thousand of Muslims, mostly Azerbaijanis. It is unbelievable for a village to have such a huge area, but it is probably a proofreading mistake. The main purpose of Armenians attacking was to suppress Azerbaijani artillery that at that time had already attacked Stepanakert and the airport nearby. After the assault that ended with the capture of Khodjali, most civilians, including women and children, were found killed 12 km off the village. The dead bodies were maimed. Before the Khodjali attack,
Armenian military command reported that the humanitarian corridor was opened in order to help inhabitants to escape. Unfortunately, these calls were ignored or simply left unheard, thus Azerbaijani authorities did not arrange an evacuation. It does not seem perfectly clear weather the decision was made deliberately or not. However, during the Khodjali assault many civilians were killed, people were trying to escape desperately not only through the humanitarian corridor, but also over the mountains. Therefore, people died not only from the firing of Armenian troops who started a fire not recognizing people approaching their front, but also from harsh natural conditions. Nevertheless, many of the refugees reached the Azerbaijani-controlled territory.
The article discusses disfigured dead bodies which were demonstrated to foreign journalists in the Azerbaijani-controlled territory, thus, a question arises. If people injured by Armenians reached Azerbaijani-controlled territory and died there, it was impossible for Armenians to disfigure their bodies… During the war, dead or wounded civilians were never considered as victims of genocide, though the author of the article claims otherwise.
She uncritically supports the official position of the Azerbaijani government, that has created a myth about “Khodjali genocide” in order to divert the world’s attention from the massacre and expulsion of Armenians organized by Azerbaijanis. Armenians that had lived in Azerbaijan for centuries became refugees, except those who were brutally killed. It was a result of the Armenian massacres and pogroms committed in Azerbaijan between 1988 and 1991.
The first Armenian extermination was committed on February 27-29, 1988, in the city of Soviet Azerbaijan, Sumgait, which is 25 km away from the capital Baku. The massacre was a ‘response’ to the request of the Council of People’s Deputies of the Armenian populated Nagorno-Karabakh to incorporate the territory into Armenian SSR. Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh had long sought to be incorporated into Soviet Armenia and hoped that the policy of Glasnost and Perestroika finally provides that chance.
After all, this was a common practice in the USSR, thus Nikita Khrushchev’s decision to transfer Crimea to Ukraine was not the only case. After World War II, some territories of Latvia and Estonia, inhabited almost exclusively by Russians, were also incorporated into Russia. Naturally, the incorporation under the conditions of democratization of the USSR in the Nagorno-Karabakh could not have been made in one day with Moscow decision, but only through negotiations and mutual coordination of interests. However, the Azerbaijani authorities did not even want to hear about it. The so-called People’s Front of Azerbaijan particularly fiercely stood against Armenians. Its external similarity with the Estonian People’s Front or the Lithuanian Sąjūdis did not mislead our current leaders. Arvydas Juozaitis noticed that it is impossible to compare Estonia with Azerbaijan. The first one is similar to Finland, while the second one - to Afghanistan.
After the Sumgait massacre which was widely discussed in the Western media, Armenians were continuously being killed and persecuted in Azerbaijan. On January, 1990 pogroms reached its peak in Baku. Only at the end of pogroms Soviet army troops came to Baku and enabled the escape for Armenians through Caspian Sea. Their property was completely stolen and destroyed. Baku as well as the whole Azerbaijan has been ‘freed from Armenians’ since 1990. Armenians themselves have written a lot about Baku tragedy, but here will be provided another proof from neutral source that reveals the essence of the problem from a different perspective.
Eduard Topol, a Jewish-Russian writer, born and raised in Baku, living in the US since 1978, in one of his articles addresses the oligarch Boris Abramovich Berezovsky, urging him to take care of poor people in Russia and gives him an example when good deeds were rewarded. The story happened to his young and wealthy friend who always helped the poor. The reorganization has opened up even more opportunities for him. His fiancée was a wealthy Armenian as well, but on January, 1990 her house in Baku was devastated and partially burned. The friend of Topol had the opportunity to move out from Baku easily, but his fiancée wanted to look at her home for the last time. They were walking together in the garden, where they found some family pictures thrown out, when Azerbaijanis appeared, armed with metal pipes, axes and other killing tools. As Azerbaijanis spotted her, they immediately came to kill her. E. Topol’s friend had a gun, but it hardly could save their lives.
Suddenly the crowd howl “Death to Armenian!” was interrupted by a voice of an elderly man: “Stop it! Don’t you know him? He never refused to help us, the poor, with any trouble. Leave them alone”. As the crowd dispersed, they both went out on the street and drove straight to the airport. This story seems to be very romantic, but it reflects the horror of massacres and vandalism as experienced by Armenians in Baku.
Not to left unmentioned, there were not comparatively too many Armenians killed, firstly they wanted to intimidate them and force to leave Azerbaijan. The latter’s government, after losing war to Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and Armenia, still seeks for revenge. Especially when the Aliyevs - Heydar Aliyev and later his son Ilham - took over the power, the falsified image of the conflict with Armenia was immediately spread abroad by a well-funded pro-Azerbaijani lobby. This is what all the Embassies of Azerbaijan do, including the one in Lithuania. Of course, the diplomatic activity of Azerbaijan is legal, as well as the efforts of their lobbyists to influence the Lithuanian society’s opinion. However, while reading the Azerbaijani approach retransmitted by these lobbyists one can notice both the primitiveness of arguments denying the committed genocide and justifying the possible oncoming one.
Without questioning the morality of Azerbaijani lobbyists, here I briefly introduce their most common arguments.
Firstly, they commonly refer that Azerbaijanis are victims of a four-staged genocide, organized by Armenians in 1905-1906, 1918-1920, 1947-1952, 1988-1994. Azerbaijani propagandist in Lithuania Imantas Melian has published an article The Genocide of the Azerbaijani People 1905-1994 in the publication Genocide and Resistance. The article is mainly based on a book "Преступления армянских террористических и бандитских формирований против человечества (XIX-XXI векa)" (Crimes against Humanity Committed by the Armenian Terrorist and Bandit Groups (XIX-XXI Centuries)). Thus, the lobbyists often claim that Armenians have committed a crime against humanity, hence, in order to defend itself, they (Azerbaijanis should destroy the nation (the Armenians), or at least humanity should quietly support the destruction.
Secondly, they claim, that the fact of Armenian genocide and the massive annihilation of other Christian nations in Turkey is falsificated and spread by Armenians. They were committing massacres against the Turks, thus the Turkish authorities were forced to deport Armenians, some of whom were somehow killed․Although almost all the countries in the world, including Lithuania, recognized the Armenian Genocide, a journalist Gintaras Visockas in his book Black Garden Tragedy, published in Vilnius, 2016, wrote: “If Turks have to apologize to Armenians, then Armenians should definitely apologize to Turks… As there were about a million of Armenians killed, while twice as much of Turks”. Thus, it cannot be called a genocide, since the term itself was coined only in 1944. Could it be the reason not to call it Genocide?
The third argument is the denial of the fact that the territories of current Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh Republic belong to Armenians. Azerbaijanis claim that they lived there before the accession to the Russian Empire in the first half of the 19th century. Only the rule of Russian tsars in the 19th century transferred Armenians to Nagorno-Karabakh. Therefore, it should be returned to Azerbaijan…There is no room for Armenians in their homeland.
The fourth argument is the denial of the existence of Armenian nation, although it is widely known that Armenians not only existed BC, but also already had a state. Azerbaijanis claim that Armenians are an ‘artificial derivative’ of Turkish nations, even Gypsies, who are very hostile towards all of their neighbors, especially the Jewish. Lithuanian-Azerbaijani Association tried to prove this approach in a book "Марши смерти: Преступления армянства против еврейского народа" ("The Death Ride: Crimes Committed by Armenians Against the Jewish People”) published in Baku, 2008. Hence, they claim that Armenians are not a nation, they do not have their territory, consequently, the annihilation of Armenians cannot be reprehensible? It is not this kind of propaganda that vexes, but the spirit that is being cultivated in Azerbaijani society and especially among the young generation.
And fifth, Azerbaijani diplomats in foreign countries use services of local lobbyists to prevent from supporting or contacting with Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh). In Lithuania, members of Parliamentary Group for Friendship with Nagorno-Karabakh had been constantly attacked in public. The aforementioned Mr. Visockas was not the only one who has accused the group members of having a pro-Russian approach and being hostile to a NATO member Turkey. Other Lithuanian lobbyists in Azerbaijan accused Armenia of maintaining good relations with Iran. However, Iran did not commit Armenian genocide in Iran, moreover, Armenian community has freedom of religion and of cultural expression in this country”.