Analysis - Apr 22, 2015 23:52 - 0 Comments

Conflict and the Politics of Commemoration in the Azerbaijani Diaspora

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In the 1990s, the first decade of the 21st century, ethnic Azerbaijanis living in France, England, Germany, or any other EU country started to organize themselves into a united ethno-national community – diaspora – with political, ideological and also financial support from the political leadership of the Azerbaijani Republic (i.e. nation state, which, then becomes an national homeland for all the ethnic Azerbaijanis, living outside it). A major component of the process of diaspora construction was the creation of a large number of diaspora organizations by ethnic Azerbaijani activists in the CIS, the EU and the USA.

In the context of this policy, special importance is attached to “the Azerbaijani Diasporas” in those countries, which, in the opinion of the authorities in Azerbaijan, play a leading role in the world political arena. Among the EU countries, particular significance is attached to building a diaspora in France, where according to official statistics currently reside 160 thousand ethnic Azerbaijanis. A further hope in France is connected with the establishment of a close contact and collaboration with the Turkish Diaspora.

The Azerbaijani political regime pursues various goals in its aspiration to influence the activity of diaspora organizations and networks. For example, the regime is trying to use the diaspora as a tool for the promotion of the Azerbaijani narrative of the Karabakh conflict. Thus ethnic activists and diaspora organizations in Germany, France, or England mobilize themselves to inform the public about ethnic cleansings carried out against Azerbaijani civilians in the course of the conflict. Various public events are held: rallies, pickets, forums, etc.

Influence is also exerted on diaspora organizations with the aim of getting them actively involved in the movement against the recognition . . . Read More

Analysis - Apr 22, 2015 23:44 - 0 Comments

Gugark after Sumgait

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What happened to Azerbaijanis in Gugark (the region of Lori in the north of Armenia) after the Sumgait events is something that nobody in Armenia wants to remember or talk about. Any information related to the Gugark events is available only in the Azerbaijani sources.

March 1988: there were many Armenians who came to Armenia from Azerbaijan, especially from Sumgait. The witnesses say that most of them didn’t have anything, not even primary shelter. An atmosphere of fear reigned on both sides. The Armenians as well as the local Azerbaijanis in Gugark were afraid of an attack from the other side.

“Fear captivated both Azerbaijanis and Armenians. The Armenian villagers were particularly concerned that the Azerbaijanis would poison the tap water,” the then director of the Vahagni collective farm Stephan Ayvazyan recalls. In 1989, Ayvazyan was a chairperson of the Gugark Regional Agricultural Association.

Arthur Sakunts, an activist and former member of the Karabakh Committee, notes that the Committee members were most of all concerned about a possible provocation. And for the purpose of decreasing the possibility of provocations, they were guarding the city at nights, but still could not ensure its full protection. “While the Azerbaijanis from the Azerbaijani village in Armenia called Arjut were transported by trucks at night, there were cases of Armenians attacking the convoys of cars,” Arthur Sakunts says.

The authorities tried to protect the local Azerbaijanis. All the roads out from the Azerbaijani villages were closed and protected by the army and police.

The former prosecutor of Vanadzor (the center of Lori region) Grigori Shahverdyan created and preserved his own archive with the documents that can shed light on many events from these dark days. He kept the addresses of the Azerbaijani families of the town for th . . . Read More

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