CHAPTER 12 “THE ARMENO-TATAR WAR” 1905-1906

As the Yerlakh and Goris roads were blocked up and Shushi with the neigbouring villages was besieged, the Armenians decided to take Askeran without delay, blocking up the way from Aghdam to Shushi, through which the Tatars received their aid. It was a kind of “counter-blockade”. A small group of Armenians settled in the Askeran fortress. An army of 500 Tatars constantly attacked the fortress, but each time was defeated due to the inventive acts of the defenders. The recurrent attack of the Tatars was met with sudden firing of the snipers. The next time the Tatars hid themselves in the passing cattle and opened a fire on the defender of the fortress from that position of theirs. At last the defenders managed to block up the gorge. A part of the Tatar cavalry had moved towards Khramort, another part to the Nakhichevanik village. The Khachen and Varanda volunteers, waving the red flag came to the Khramort defenders’ help. The Tatars were humiliated by defeat.

The Shushi governor, unable to prevent the war, applied to the Armenians, “Defend yourselves”. The Armenian warriors, observing an old cannon of General Madatov’s times, dragged it to their Baghunts Dzor positions, and filling the gun with gun-powder and pieces of metal, fired. The Tatars were frightened to death and raised a white flag of surrender. The “battle” of Shushi ended at the end of August in a victory for the Armenians. As a result of this war, the court-house, the municipal building, the girls’ school, two hundred shops, the three-storeyed building of theatre in the Armenian district of Shushi were burnt to the ground.

Soon Governor-General Takaiashvily arrived in Shushi. Accompanied by orchestral music, his battallion marched along the Shushi streets. He ordered to arrest physician Atabekian, R. Yuzpashian and Melikian, who were charged with provokation of armed conflict.

The Shushi “war” came to an end, but the vicious clashes left a legacy of hatred between the Armenians and Tatars of the town. The skirmishes continued in September in other villages of the region. When the Armenian defenders informed the Russian watch of the fortress about the Tatar attacks, the latter answered that the Tatars had said that the Shushi armistice did not refer to them.

A lot of Turk-Tatar plunderers had gathered in the Khojalu village (situated between Shushi and Askeran), looking forward to a chance to carry the theft to their houses. Two hundred of them with the theft loaded on horsebacks, entered Askeran. A bribe – seeking Armenian Pristav was leading them. The clash ended with the defeat of the Tatars.

Before the fightings of Shushi, the Tatar inhabitants of the Zarisslu (190 families) and Khalaflu (213 families) villages, allied to those of Noradin and Vaghadin villages and the Lachin Kurds, tried to enter the town “to teach a good lesson” to the Armenians, but were thrown back by the self-defence groups of the Armenian villages Ghaibali, Krkdzan, Karintak, Hunot, Arkatli. During the second attack on the Ghaibalu village, the mob managed to burn 4 houses and carry 75 cows. Two Armenians were killed. The Tatars intended to destroy all the Armenian villages on the way to Shushi. The peasants of the Jamillu Armenian village took refuge in the neighbouring Khankend (Varakn) village. The defenders of the Khanatsakh and Baluja villages managed to hold their ground. The Armenians in their turn attacked the Tatar village Ghushchilar, driving out the population.

The ancient village Vararakn, which was renamed Khankend: by the Shushi khans, consisted of 100 Armenian and 60 Tatar families. On December 18, 60 armed Tatars came here from the villages Malikbeklu and Ghushchilar and hiding here, prepared to attack. An old Armenian woman and her 8 year old grandson were murdered by them. A fighting broke out. The Turks took refuge in the barracks. The number of casualties was 30 on Tatars’ side and 6 on the Armenian. The Cossacks ceased to interfere.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13