A memorial event dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the March Genocide against Azerbaijani people was held at the Consulate General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles on March 27. The event, organized by the Consulate General, was attended by members of the Azerbaijani community, Consuls General of various foreign countries, well-known scientific and cultural figures, journalists, as well as leaders of Jewish, Turkish, Pakistani, Iranian, Vietnamese and Hispanic communities.
Opening the event, Consul General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles Nasimi Aghayev welcomed the guests and talked about the history of the genocide committed against Azerbaijanis in 1918. Aghayev noted that following the October Revolution in Russia in 1917, Baku was invaded by Bolshevik forces, who created an alliance with Armenian Dashnaks. “Baku was the main target for Bolsheviks because of its vast oil reserves. As Vladimir Lenin famously said, ‘Bolshevism can not survive without Baku oil’,” Aghayev said. “However the main obstacle to the full and unimpeded control of Baku was the city’s Azerbaijani Muslim population. So the Bolsheviks and Armenian Dashnaks decided to resort to the ‘final solution’ of the ‘problem’. Between March 30 and April 2, 1918, Armenian Dashnaks, assisted by Bolsheviks (led by Armenian Communist Stepan Shaumyan), subjected the entire Muslim population of Baku to a brutal genocide, killing at least 12,000 Azerbaijanis, many of whom were women and children. That’s how one of the first genocides of the 20th century was committed,” Aghayev said. “The violence against Azerbaijanis was not contained only to Baku. Thousands of Azerbaijanis were massacred in other regions of Azerbaijan, including in the Quba region. Muslims were not the only victims. Around 3000 Azerbaijani Mountain Jews were also killed by Armenian Dashnaks. The reason? Because Jews sided with Azerbaijani Muslims, with whom they had lived in harmony for centuries, against Azerbaijan’s Bolshevik-Dashnak occupation,” the Consul General added. Aghayev stressed that in 2007 a mass grave containing bones and skulls of many Jewish and Muslim victims of the 1918 Quba Genocide was unearthed near the Jewish Red Town in Quba.
Referring to concrete reports from New York Times and Le Temps as well as French diplomatic cables from 1920, Aghayev mentioned that the massacre of Azerbaijani civilians continued well into 1920s, including in Armenia itself.
“Despite this 100 year old genocide, as well as the internationally condemned occupation and total ethnic cleansing of 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s sovereign territory by Armenia just 25 years ago, we are not teaching our children the hatred. We are not teaching our children to hate. We are teaching the young generation the values of tolerance, peace and harmony, and multiculturalism,” Aghayev concluded.
In his speech, American journalist Raoul Lowery Contreras, – who authored the California-published books “Murder in the Mountains: War crime in Khojaly and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict” and “Armenian lobby and the U.S. foreign policy” – mentioned that he conducted a thorough research on the 1918 March Genocide. He stressed that back then Baku had only 56,000 Azerbaijani Muslim population (of overall 200,000 city population). “So the massacre of 12,000 of them meant that one out of every five Azerbaijanis was killed in March 1918. This was a true genocide,” Contreras concluded.
Following the speeches, prayers were read by Muslim, Christian and Zoroastrian faith leaders honoring the victims of the March Genocide, expressing the hope that such tragedies are never repeated again.
Afterwards, American pianist Jason Abrams, Azerbaijani violinist Elvina Gurbanova and Azerbaijani young vocalist, winner of many international music competitions Emin Eminzade performed Azerbaijani and classical music compositions, which were received with much applause by the audience.