CHAPTER 13 KARABAKH UNDER SIEGE (1917-1920)

For centuries they instigated the Armenians to rise against the Iranian state, trusting the “eastern Christian liberaters” but each time the hopes of the Armenians were frusterated largely by the Russian “liberating hand”. They didn’t come to the aid of the beleagured Christians, and moreover, with their acquescence the Turks were gradually realizing their plans of “Armenia without Armenians”. As to Iran, due to Turkish activity, its influence over the Transcaucasian region was weakening day by day.

The effects of the Armenian Declaration of Independence on Karabakh and the Armenian-Turkish areas of Nakhichevan and Zangezur were at first unclear. Karabakh was de facto independent in the summer of 1918. On August 5, 1918, a “Congress of the Armenians of Nagorny Karabakh, which sympathized with the Bolshevik Commune of Baku, was formed in the capital Shushi. The requests that it should submit to the government of Gandzak were turned down. The commander of the Turkish army deployed in Gandzak, Nuri Pasha had blocked up all the roads to Karabakh. The region was cut off from the rest of the world. Turkish troops were deployed in Aghdam, Tartarr, Kariagino, Zabukh.14 One hundred eighty representatives took part in the Congress of the Armenians of Karabakh. The Congress decided to start from the principle of electing a government consisting of representatives of different political parties and trends. An independent national government was elected, composed of seven governors. Yeghishe Ishkhanian being the chairman, responsible both for internal and foreign affairs. The ministers were; Arshavir Kamalian, Arto Hovhannissian, Markos Ter-Astvatsatrian, Harutiun Tumian, Martiros Aivazian, Melikset Yesayan. The congress decreed the confiscation of the lands of the beks by the commities of peasants;

Declaration of the Karabakh National Government, July 24, 1920

The Great Russian Revolution abolished the despotic Tsarist power and all its structures rooted up the heritage of the past.

The waves of the revolution spread to Caucasus.

The creation of a new life is a must. But due to peculiarities of our conditions, the revolution faced a lot of problems. We carried out a zealous activity from the first days of the revolution. But the catastrophic economical conditions adding up to local difficulties, being the result of the war, make our work uneffective. After the Russian troops were ordered to quit, the political life of Transcaucasia lost its centre of gravity. The revolution lost its bulwark after our isolation. The Caucasian Commissarate, as a chip on the stormy waves, set new complications in the political life of the region. The situation changed to better when the three National Republics came to function in Caucasus.

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