CHAPTER 13 KARABAKH UNDER SIEGE (1917-1920)

Soon the British representative Major Monc-Mezon arrived in Shushi accompanied by 50 Indian soldiers. The British mission was completely indifferent to the Muslim attacks. The manager of military affairs of Karabakh testified that they were engaged enlisting agents of Armenian nationality with pro-Tatar tendences. Karabakh continued to persist in its refusal to submit to Baku authorities. The British decided to apply strong measures. All the roads leading to Karabakh were cut off. All trading with Armenians was forbidden on pain of death. The Tatar armed forces, controlling the strategic road Aghdam-Shushi, continuously attacked and looted the neighbouring Armenian villages. In January 1919 the Shushi National Council in a report to the Baku Armenian National Council, wrote;

“We have defended ourselves against the Turkish regular army units and the local Muslim armed bands without any external support. We have borne innumerable hardships and sufferings for almost a year, without allowing anybody to encroach upon our freedom and independence.”

Then describing the violences committed by the Azerbaijani soldiers, they added;

“It’s obvious that we are being surrounded from all sides… We have accepted and carried out all the demands of the British Mission, without opposing them in any way, put in mildly we are digging a grave for the Karabakh Armenians ourselves.”33

Both the Karabakh National Council and the Government members were sure that all the pressing was instigated by the British, having decided to settle the problem of Karabakh by forcing them to submit. The protests and objections raised by the Armenian Government had no effect on the British plans. The Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Armenia on June 30, 1919 reported the Zangezur National Council about the January 21 decision of the Armenian government on establishing a “Provisional Committee of Karabakh and Zangezur.”34 Article of the decree states;

“The Zangezur and Karabakh Armenian regions, forming an integral part of Republic of Armenia, are governed by the administrative bodies confirmed by the central government of the Republic in accordance with the acting laws.”

The document officially declared Karabakh as a consisting part of Armenia and created a special body; “Zangezur-Karabakh Regional Council”, to realize the administrative rule of the area.

This decision of the Armenian government raised the hopes of the Karabakh Armenians. But it also forced the Azerbaijani government and the emissars to counteract. The British too were resolute to force the Armenians to submit. They made the Armenian government understand that Kars and Ardahan was their “share” in return for Karabakh and Zangezur. Faced with this situation, the Fourth Congress of Karabakh Armenians met in Shushi on February 10, 1919 and persisted its refusal to submit to Baku and protested against the appointment of Kurd bandit Sultan Bek’s brother, pan-Turkist and anti-Armenian member of the Musavat party Khosrov Bek Sultanov as Governor-General of Karabakh and the surrounding districts, Zangezur included. The following Resolution was made by the Congress;

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