The alleged Armenian Genocide is a well known topic and that Armenia has a national genocide day is also public knowledge. Yet, who among our readers could have guessed that neighboring Azerbaijan has its own genocide day? Yes, the 31st of March has been designated such to commemorate the massacres of Muslims in Baku in 1918. Thomas de Waal explains,
“Few people know that roughly fifty thousand Azerbaijanis were deported from Armenia in the 1940s. Before that, thousands of Azerbaijanis died in the bloody conflicts of 1918-1920. In 1998, President Aliev stitched these disparate events together in order to proclaim Azerbaijan’s Genocide Day.
[...] The choice of the word “Genocide” to link the events suggested, however, that the commemoration was less about the past than about present-day politics. The message was, if Armenia could have a Genocide Day, then why should Azerbaijan not have one too? By using the term, Aliev had initiated a duel of the martyred nations.”
The mere idea of a genocide competition is indicative of the state of relations between the two neighbors and the fight for international sympathy. Just as the Palestinians have invented their own so-called genocide, so too have the Azerbaijanis. Unsurprisingly, their attempt has been barely recognized.
Like other mixed countries such as Cyprus, violence between ethnic groups was always at its worst when the respective empire was weakest. Thus, once the Ottomans folded and the British began leaving, Turkish and Greek Cypriots went at it. The same can be said for Armenia and Azerbaijan whose conflict began shortly before and played a large role in precipitation the fall of the USSR. The idea of ethnic nation states has been dodgy at best. In fact, the most successful countries are those with no ethnicity at all such as America, Canada and Australia. Throughout history, empires have been the norm and on the whole far more successful in the big picture than bloody.
Coincidentally, I will actually be in Azerbaijan on the 31st of March and hopefully will be able to witness the mourning and day’s events which I’ll naturally fill Coming Anarchy readers in on. The Armenian Genocide Day is almost a month later on April 24th which I’ll will probably just miss. Imagine, two Genocide Days in one month’s time and on one trip!