In Memory of My Grandfather, Samad

The photo here depicts a four-year-old child-man, Samad, who suddenly grew up, the day, in 1918, when he was forcibly deported from Irevan, or Yerevan, present day Armenia’s capital.

In Memory of My Grandfather, Samad 1
Grandfather Samad – Photo by granddaughter Ulviyya Zulfikar

Irevan – An Ancient Azerbaijan Land

For every Azerbaijani, the city of Irevan is as dear and native as other Azerbaijani ancient cities such as Baku (Baki), Ganja, Tabriz or Ardabil. At different times in history the area of Iravan was a part of various states, but always with a Turkic majority – until the occupation and annexation of the city by the Russian Empire in 1827. In

1918, after the establishment of the first Armenian state in the South Caucasus, the city of Iravan became the capital of Armenia. As a result of sustained ethnic cleansing, no single Azerbaijani remained living in Irevan or in any other part of modern-Armenia, which was transformed into a notorious mono-ethnic entity.

Bitter Azerbaijani Memories

So many Azerbaijanis carry with them a burden of bitter life stories connecting with Armenia.

In the 20th century hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis were deported, four times – in the years 1905, 1918-1920, 1948-1953 and 1988-1991, from Western Azerbaijan, the territory of present-day Armenia.

In 1945-1953, about 150,000 Azerbaijanis, and in 1988-1991 nearly 300,000 Azerbaijanis were deported from their homes in areas which are now called Armenia. They have been unable to return to their homes and cannot even visit the graves of their family members buried in Armenia. Many who were deported and are already dead, died longing for their ancestral lands.

Estimated Damage

Expulsion carries a price.

The damage inflicted on Azerbaijani people’s properties, who were forcibly expelled from their native lands, as well as the damage of historical and cultural monuments belonging to Azerbaijan, is estimated at hundreds of billions of US dollars. The scale of the psychological and moral damage is, of course, unfathomable and immeasurable.

Back To My Grandfather Samad

Samad was four years old at the time of his deportation due to which he was unable to enjoy a happy childhood and see his family again.

One night, Samad’s sister, Aphruz, woke him up, wrapped him in a shawl and managed to escape from the nationalists who were chasing them. But throughout his life Samad was never able to see the other twelve members of his family.

Later on in his life Samad found out about the murder of his father and his four siblings.

Samad, together with his sister moved to the Azerbaijani City of Ganja. His life was a continuous struggle and he passed away at the age of 68.

Finding Family

Ten years after his death, Samad’s grandchildren learned that their grandfather’s brother, who was only two-year-older than him, had lived 50 kilometers away from where he lived. Sadly, Samad was never aware of his brother’s location nor had met him.

A Lesson From History

Taking lessons from history is imperative. Humanity is always attempting to achieve excellence. Bitter events in history should be a lesson to heed, not to carry a negative impact on what is currently taking place. Humanity’s international laws are meant to protect fundamental human rights and they call for peaceful existence between all people.

International conventions consider the forcible expulsion of people from their native lands to be a crime against humanity. However, we – Western Azerbaijanis – are not focused on the past but look forward to a peaceful future for our region.

At a time when calls for peace are prevailing in the South Caucasus region, Azerbaijani expellees from nowadays Armenia are working to return, in a peaceful manner, to their homes and achieve peaceful coexistence in the entire region.

We – Western Azerbaijanis – aspire to live prosperously in our native lands, restore our disrupted communities and be able to celebrate and mourn together again. Also to visit the graves of our ancestors and family members. All this is simply related to the fundamental rights of all human beings.

I truly believe in the vision of peaceful return of Western Azerbaijanis to their native lands. When that day comes, I will take his picture with me to the house where he lived. I’m sure my grandfather Samad’s troubled soul will then finally find peace in Heaven.

Ulviyya Zulfikar

Ulviyya Zulfikar is a spokesperson for Western Azerbaijan Community. Stories brought to print by Nurit Greenger.