24 June 2018

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CURRENCY

THE PATH OF LIGHT AND FREEDOM

Hundred years ago, Azerbaijan created a first democratic republic in the Muslim Orient

Author:

01.06.2018

One hundred years ago, a milestone event took place in the history of Azerbaijan. Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan (ADR), a first republic in the entire Muslim Orient and in the Turkic world was born in severe conditions of wars and revolutions. This event has played an instrumental role in the fate of our people, permanently securing the status of the nation-state for Azerbaijan. Thanks to a centuries-old experience of national statehood, our people has further developed its sovereignty with the establishment of ADR making a significant political and cultural leap, which would later put it on the path of light and freedom.

 

Collapse of the Transcaucasian Federation

On May 11, 1918, the Transcaucasian Federation resumed the negotiations with the Ottoman Empire in Batumi. Mammad Emin Rasulzadeh and Mammad Hasan Hajinsky were the representatives of the Transcaucasian delegation headed by the chairman of the government and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Akaki Chkhenkeli. The Ottoman delegation was chaired by the Minister of Justice Khalil Pasha, the commander of the Caucasian Front Vehib Pasha and the Minister of War Enver Pasha. The German representatives led by General Otto von Lossow also attended the Batumi Conference as observers. He had held secret meetings with Georgian representatives promising them military and economic assistance.

The delegation of the Transcaucasian Sejm fully recognized Turkey's protectorate over the Kars, Ardahan and Batumi regions in accordance with the decisions of the Brest Treaty. Following a successful offensive, Turkish troops occupied Alexandropol on May 17. Meanwhile, three thousand German soldiers under the command of General von Kress reached the Georgian port of Poti. Germans intended to occupy the territory of Georgia, and to transfer Azerbaijan to the sphere of influence of the Ottoman Turkey.

The consequences of joint German-Turkish military operations forced Georgians, Azerbaijanis and Armenians to hold separate talks with the Ottoman Empire at the Batumi Conference. Meanwhile, during separate talks with representatives of Germany and under the pressure of General von Kress, the Georgian faction of the Sejm decided to announce the withdrawal of Georgia from the Transcaucasian Federal Republic and proclaim its independence.

On May 25, 1918, the Muslim faction of the Sejm convened to make an official announcement that the Georgian faction is preparing to proclaim the independence of Georgia. Chairman of the Sejm Nikolai Chkheidze and members of the Sejm Irakly Tsereteli and Yevgeny Gegechkori unexpectedly attended the evening session and made a statement on behalf of the Georgian faction, in which they noted that "the peoples of Transcaucasia failed to unite as an independent nation, and the collapse of Transcaucasia is inevitable." The Georgian politician stated that "the collapse of the Transcaucasian Republic" would be officially announced on the next meeting of the Sejm, on May 26.

Fatali-khan Khoyski, one of the leaders of the Azerbaijani national movement, said in response that "...if this is the will of the Georgian people, then we have no right to interfere, and the Azerbaijani Turks, obviously, have no other choice than to adopt appropriate decisions in the light of this new event."

After the departure of the Georgian delegation, the Muslim faction of the Sejm adopted a resolution, which particularly mentioned the following: "...If Georgia declares its independence, we should declare the independence of Azerbaijan also."

On May 26, 1918, the Transcaucasian Sejm held its last meeting. The Georgian faction accused the Muslim faction of the collapse of the Transcaucasian republic due to its alleged pro-Turkish position.

Shafi-bey Rustambeyov criticised the Georgian faction as follows: "... Assuming that no strong and objective evidence necessitates the isolation at this difficult and crucial moment of joint political existence of Transcaucasia, we think the arguments put forward by the representatives of the Georgian people are not convincing. At the same time, if Georgians consider the joint work of the peoples of Transcaucasia to be impossible and seek a separate political existence, we believe that under such conditions there is no longer a point for keeping the Sejm alive. "

Thus, the Muslim faction did not object to the proposal for the voluntary dissolution of the Sejm. After long mutual accusations, the Sejm issued a resolution announcing the collapse of the Transcaucasian Federation torn apart by internal contradictions.

 

Declaration of independence

On May 27, the Muslim faction of the former Sejm convened for an emergency meeting to discuss the existing political situation. After a lengthy debate, it was decided to create a National Council. The head of the Central Committee of the Musavat Party, M. E. Rasulzadeh was elected the Chairman of the National Council, while non-partisan F. Khoysky became the Chairman of Executive Committee.

The next day, on May 28, 1918, the National Council held its first meeting, at which a historic decision was taken by declaring Azerbaijan as an independent state. The declaration of independence of Azerbaijan legally ensured the establishment of a new democratic state. It publicly announced that:

"1. From this day on, the peoples of Azerbaijan are bearers of sovereign rights and Azerbaijan, which consists of the southern and eastern parts of Transcaucasia, is a legally independent state.

2. It is resolved that the form of government of the independent Azerbaijani state is a democratic republic.

3. The Azerbaijani Democratic Republic is determined to establish friendly relations with all members of the international community, especially with the neighbouring nations and states.

4. The Azerbaijani Democratic Republic guarantees to all its citizens within its borders full civil and political rights, regardless of ethnic origin, religion, class, profession, or sex.

5. The Azerbaijani Democratic Republic encourages the free development of all nationalities inhabiting its territory.

6. Until the Azerbaijani Constituent Assembly is convened, the supreme authority over Azerbaijan is vested in a universally elected National Council and the Provisional Government responsible to this Council."

F. Khoysky was instructed to form the first government of Azerbaijan. After an hour-long break, the meeting of the National Council resumed, and Khoysky announced the new government:

Fatali-khan Khoysky (non-partisan) as the Chairman of the Council of Ministers and the Minister of Interior;

Khosrov-bey Sultanov (Ittihad) as the Minister of War;

Mammad Hasan Hajinsky (Musavat) as the Minister of Foreign Affairs;

Nasib-bey Yusifbeyli (Musavat) as the Minister of Finance and Minister of Education;

Khalil-bey Khasmammadov (Musavat) as the Minister of Justice;

Mamed Yusif Jafarov (non-partisan) as the Minister of Trade and Industry;

Akper-agha Sheykhulislamov (Hummet) as the Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Labour;

Khudadat-bey Melik-Aslanov (Muslim Socialists) as the Minister of Railways, Post and Telegraph;

Jamo-bey Hajinsky (Muslim Socialists) as the Minister of State Control.

Thus, after more than 100 years, the independence of Azerbaijan was restored. This time however, it was in the form of a parliamentary democratic republic, which highlighted the further historical path of Azerbaijan.

By declaring Azerbaijn as an independent state at that truly historical moment, the best sons of Azerbaijan made a heroic move. Challenged by the ongoing world war and revolutionary upheavals in the former Russian Empire, they were able to insert the name of Azerbaijan on the political map of the modern era. ADR managed to elevate a unique synthesis of faith, freedom and patriotism reflected in the tricolour of our republic, which symbolizes our adherence to Islamic tradition, its Turkic heritage and integrity with the European civilization, to a rank of national idea. Thanks to incredible efforts of the founders of the democratic republic, Azerbaijani people have demonstrated to the whole world their adherence to the best traditions of the West and the East - to the ideas of democratic statehood, republicanism, human rights and freedoms, as well as national, moral and religious principles.

During 23 months of activity, ADR has made a tremendous progress in state building and the establishment of national identity, leaving behind a number of achievements in politics, economy, military, culture, and the humanities. The Azerbaijani language was declared as the state language of the republic; all citizens regardless of nationality, religion, sex, class, were granted the voting rights; power institutions, as well as the Baku State University, independent financial and banking structures, independent political and economic course of Azerbaijan were established less than in two years.

Azerbaijan stepped on the glorious path of achievements on May 28, 1918; at the time when the state and people of Azerbaijan were literally forced to make a single choice – life or death. The leaders of the Azerbaijani national movement, now as the leaders of an independent state, continued their people's struggle for freedom and prosperous future, for the territorial integrity and progressive development of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

 

Declaration of Independence of Azerbaijan

"1. From this day on, the peoples of Azerbaijan are bearers of sovereign rights and Azerbaijan, which consists of the southern and eastern parts of Transcaucasia, is a legally independent state.

2. It is resolved that the form of government of the independent Azerbaijani state is a democratic republic.

3. The Azerbaijani Democratic Republic is determined to establish friendly relations with all members of the international community, especially with the neighbouring nations and states.

4. The Azerbaijani Democratic Republic guarantees to all its citizens within its borders full civil and political rights, regardless of ethnic origin, religion, class, profession, or sex.

5. The Azerbaijani Democratic Republic encourages the free development of all nationalities inhabiting its territory.

6. Until the Azerbaijani Constituent Assembly is convened, the supreme authority over Azerbaijan is vested in a universally elected National Council and the Provisional Government responsible to this Council."

 

 

MAMMAD EMIN RASULZADEH

(1884-1955) 

The most prominent state and political figure of Azerbaijan of the beginning of the last century, Mammad Emin Akhund Haji Molla Alekber oghlu Rasulzadeh, was born on January 31, 1884 in the village of Novkhany, Baku Province. After graduation from the Russian-Muslim school run by the famous enlightener Sultan Mejid Ganizadeh, Mammad Emin continued his studies at the Baku Technical School.

The idea of ​​national enlightenment and liberation has impressed Rasulzadeh since his young years. In 1903, he published his first article on the purity of the Azerbaijani language in the Şərqi-Rus (Azerbaijani: the Russian Orient) newspaper.

Rasulzadeh got involved in politics in 1902, when he founded a circle of young Azerbaijani revolutionaries, the Muslim Youth Organisation. In 1904, Rasulzadeh together with Mir-Hasan Movsumov and Mammad Hasan Hajinsky founded the Muslim social-democratic organisation Hummet. He later became the editor-in-chief of partisan newspapers Hümmet (Energy), Təkamül (Evolution), and Yoldaş (Comrade).

The future leader of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan (ADR) took an active part in the Russian revolution of 1905-1907. Due to his cooperation with Caucasian Bolsheviks, in particular with Stalin, he was under the supervision of the police. The defeat of the revolution forced Rasulzadeh to emigrate from the Russian Empire. In 1909, he left for Iran, where he soon became an active participant in the local revolutionary movement. Here he continued his journalistic activities as editor of the Irani-Naw (New Iran) newspaper published by the Democratic Party of Iran. In 1911, after the suppression of the Iranian revolution, Rasulzadeh left for Turkey.

Mammad Emin returned to the Russian Empire in 1913 after the amnesty announced thanks to the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. After returning to Baku, Rasulzadeh joined the Musavat party (Equality) promoting the ideas of Muslim solidarity, Turkic unity, social equality, and became one of its leaders. Since 1915, he has published the Açıq söz (Frank talk) newspaper for the Musavat party.

After the February Revolution of 1917, which put an end to the tsarist autocracy, a new stage of Rasulzadeh's political activity began. He becomes one of the leaders of the Azerbaijani national movement. Rasulzadeh participated in the work of the Congress of Caucasian Muslims held in Baku and the First All-Russian Muslim Congress in Moscow. Thanks to Rasulzadeh’s suggestion, the congress adopted decisions on the need for a federal, new, and democratic Russia.

At the first congress of the Turkic Federalist Party Musavat in October 1917, Rasulzadeh was elected the chairman of its Central Committee. He was soon elected to the All-Russian Constituent Assembly from the Transcaucasian constituency in accordance with the lists of the Muslim National Committee and the Musavat Party.

After the establishment of the Bolshevik-Dashnak regime in Baku, the Baku Council, Rasulzadeh with other prominent figures of the Azerbaijani national movement joined the process of autonomising the region. Rasulzadeh was the head of the Muslim (Azerbaijani) faction in the Transcaucasian Sejm.

Withdrawal of the Georgian faction from the Sejm on May 26, 1918 was followed by the collapse of the newly established Transcaucasian Federation. The next day, the Azerbaijani faction of the former Sejm formed the National Council of Azerbaijan electing Mammad Emin Rasulzadeh, who actually was in Batumi negotiating with the Ottoman delegation, its chairman.

On May 28, 1918, the National Council announced the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan. Rasulzadeh, as the first head of state and leader of the leading Azerbaijani political party, Musavat, was one of the key figures in ADR. He played an instrumental role in consolidating the national ideology during the democratic republic. His famous statement "Bir kərə yüksələn bayraq bir daha enməz!" (“The flag once raised will never fall!”) has become a slogan of the Azerbaijani national movement.

Rasulzadeh was one of the most influential deputies of the Azerbaijani parliament, established in December 1918. Heading the Musavat faction, he took an active part in discussions and adoption of state decisions on the most important issues of Azerbaijan's development.

The fall of the ADR in April 1920 because of the military invasion of the Soviet Russia forced Rasulzadeh, like many other figures of the overthrown Democratic Republic, to move to an illegal position. For some time he was hiding in the mountainous village of Lahij but was soon arrested by the Bolsheviks and imprisoned in Baku. Thanks to Stalin's intercession, Rasulzadeh was sent to Moscow to work at the People's Commissariat for Nationalities Affairs.

However, Rasulzadeh remained faithful to the ideals of Azerbaijani independence and had to emigrate from Russia in 1922. Originally, he settled in Turkey but moved to Poland in 1931. During the emigration period, he has visited several other European countries, but later returned to Turkey, where he spent the last years of his life.

Mammad Emin Rasulzadeh was a fervent fighter for the freedom and independence of Azerbaijan. He died on March 6, 1955 in Ankara. His last word was "Azerbaijan" repeated three times. The name of Rasulzadeh is engraved in the Golden Book of the history of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan and our national statehood.



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