Today, I was made aware that the offices of City of Irvine Councilmembers have gotten emails requesting May 28 be recognized as the “National Day of Azerbaijan” as, over 100 years ago, there was a less than two-year period of a proclaimed democratic republic on a disputed portion of present-day Azerbaijan. This “republic” existed from May 28, 1918, to April 28, 1920, when the government surrendered to Bolsheviks.
It would defy human decency and rationality to issue a proclamation recognizing Azerbaijan as a republic. Azerbaijan is a dictatorship, or consolidated authoritarian regime—not a democratic republic—scoring 1 out of 100 on their Democracy Score from Freedom House.
In 2020, the authoritarian regime in Azerbaijan initiated a genocidal assault on the Armenians of Artsakh, resulting in the deaths of more than 5,000 Armenians, and the displacement of over 91,000 Armenians from their homes. This recent genocidal attack remains largely unknown in the American media-sphere.
More recently, Azerbaijan initiated another genocidal assault on Armenia itself just 8 months ago, resulting in the deaths of over 200 Armenians, and Azerbaijan’s current continued occupation of the sovereign territory of Armenia. In a currently ongoing offensive, Azerbaijan has blockaded Artsakh for 170 days now, using Medieval siege tactics to deprive the Armenian population of food, medicine, energy and clean water, in an attempt to depopulate the indigenous population. The so-called Azerbaijan Democratic Republic does not recognize the Armenian Genocide but is actually acting to continue the genocide.
In the above picture, the Ghazanchetsots Cathedral of Shushi is shown damaged by an attack by Azerbaijani forces in October 2020, and it has since been altered to remove traces of its Armenian history, which is part of an ongoing large-scale cultural genocide by Azerbaijan of removing Armenian heritage in territory it controls.
Under no circumstances should the genocidal, authoritarian regime in Azerbaijan be positively recognized. Instead, defend human rights and help halt the continuing genocide by recognizing the nascent Republic of Artsakh, an actual democracy that represents the self-determination of the indigenous Armenians who have populated the area for millenia.
Dr. Kev Abazajian
Professor of Physics & Astronomy, UC Irvine. City of Irvine Green Ribbon Environmental Committee Member. Active Democrat.