Aziz Alekberli: Western Azerbaijan Community aims to achieve restoration of rights of Azerbaijanis expelled from their ancestral lands in last 200 years (INTERVIEW)
News.Az presents an exclusive interview with Aziz Alekberli, MP, Chairman of the Western Azerbaijan Community.
News.Az – Unfortunately, the month of December is remembered by Western Azerbaijanis as sad days. What happened on December 5 and December 23?
A.A. – The process of Armenianization of the territory of Western Azerbaijan (the territory of present-day Armenia), which is the historical land of Azerbaijan, began 200 years ago – after the occupation of the South Caucasus by Tsarist Russia and the resettlement of Armenians to these territories. In the last hundred years alone, our compatriots in Western Azerbaijan were deported and subjected to genocide four times. In 1905 and 1918-1920, armed Armenian gangs committed acts of genocide against Azerbaijanis in this region, brutally killing tens of thousands of civilians and forcibly expelling hundreds of thousands of people. As a result of these acts, hundreds of villages were wiped out. Armenian military groups continued their terrorist actions during the 70-year Soviet period, and on December 23, 1947, by the decision of USSR head Stalin, Armenia received permission to deport 100,000 Azerbaijanis from Armenia. They also managed to expel 150,000 civilians from their native lands in a short period of time.
In 1988, at the first stage of the Karabakh conflict, Western Azerbaijanis were once again subjected to deportation by the Armenian state. Our compatriots, whose ancestors had lived in this geography for thousands of years, were expelled from their homes. This process, which started in February 1988, came to an end on December 5, 1988, which resulted in the creation of a mono-ethnic Armenian state on the historical territory of Azerbaijan.
News.Az – Both moral and material damage was inflicted on those who were subjected to deportation. What is the extent of the material damage inflicted on Western Azerbaijanis?
A.A. – The damage caused to the Azerbaijanis who were deported and subjected to acts of genocide by Armenian militants in the last two centuries has not been calculated until today. The damage inflicted on our compatriots deported in 1988 (the last deportation) has been partially calculated. Thus, the damage caused to Azerbaijanis only on private and public farms is estimated at 680 billion US dollars today. If we add to this the underground and surface natural resources, the damage to material cultural monuments and moral damage, this figure will increase several times. The Armenian state may pay the last penny for the damage inflicted on its citizens – the people expelled from Armenia in 1988.
News.Az – You mentioned the change of about 2,000 toponyms. Which ones can you give an example of? We even know that some toponyms have been renamed several times. What is the reason for this?
A.A. – If you point to any toponym on today’s map of the Republic of Armenia, I can tell you when it was renamed. The vast majority of these toponyms were officially renamed by the decision of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Armenian SSR. Even some toponyms have lost their historical names after being renamed three or four times. For example, Boyuk Garakilsa, the second largest city of Armenia, was renamed to Kirovakan on January 3, 1935, and then to Vanadzor in 1992. The town of Soylan was renamed to Azizbeyov on October 12, 1956, and then to Vayk on April 19, 1991. Moreover, the town of Sardarabad was renamed to Hoktember on January 3, 1935, and then to Armavir in 1992. The Armenian state did not only change the names of towns and villages but also the names of mountains and rivers. Thus, the River Zangi was renamed to Hrazdan, the River Arpachay to Akhuryan, the River Bazarchay to Vorotan, the Mont Aghmangan to Gegham, the Mount Alagoz to Aragats, Lake Goycha to Sevan, and Lake Aydingol to Parz Lich. There are numerous examples.
News.Az – What is the main objective of the Western Azerbaijan Community?
A.A. – The main objective of the Western Azerbaijan Community to achieve the restoration of the rights of the Azerbaijanis expelled from their ancestral lands in the last 200 years. Today, the number of these people and their heirs is more than five million, and they are currently living in many parts of the world. Especially, 34 years have passed since the Azerbaijanis were subjected to the last deportation in 1988. At that time, the number of our compatriots expelled was 300,000, and now their number is estimated at 500,000. Most of those people are still alive. However, they cannot go to their native lands to live and visit the graves of their grandparents and relatives. Where is humanity? Where is justice? Today, some states and international organizations are talking about the rights of Armenians living in Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region. Why are they keeping mum when it comes to the rights of the Azerbaijanis expelled from Armenia? As the Western Azerbaijan Community, our firm position is that if Armenians continue to live in Azerbaijan, Western Azerbaijanis can also go back to their native lands in Armenia and coexist there. This is our legal and human right.
News.Az – Thank you for your interview.
A.A. – You are welcome.