Action Alert

Happy Republic Day, Azerbaijan!

Today Azerbaijanis around the world mark the 99th anniversary of establishment of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. The republic was founded by the Azerbaijani National Council in Tiflis on May 28, 1918 following the collapse of the Russian Empire. Azerbaijan had a population of 2.86 million at the time and bordered Russia to the north, the Democratic Republic of Georgia to the northwest, the Republic of Armenia to the west, and Iran to the south. Ganja was the first capital of Azerbaijan until Baku, the current capital of the country, was completely liberated from Russian Bolsheviks and Armenian Dashnaks in September 1918. 

A parliamentary republic, Azerbaijan extended all political, cultural and religious freedoms to its citizens. Its Parliament was elected on the basis of universal, free, and proportionate representation and the Council of Ministers was held responsible before it. In addition to the parties Musavat, Ahrar, Ittihad, and Muslim Social Democrats; the Russian, Polish, Jewish, German and Armenian minorities held seats at the parliament. Armenian representatives held as many as 21 out of 120 seats. Among the important accomplishments of the Parliament was the extension of suffrage to women, making Azerbaijan one of the first countries in the world, and the very first majority-Muslim nation, to grant women equal political rights with men.

On January 12, 1920, the Allied Supreme Council extended de facto recognition to Azerbaijan. Baku did not manage to get the de-jure recognition since it was invaded by the Red Army in April 1920. Azerbaijan Democratic Republic existed for only 23 months until it was occupied by Russian Bolsheviks and was forcibly integrated into the expanding Russian state, later to be part of the USSR. Despite the early demise of the sovereignty of Azerbaijan, detachment of large parts of its territory by Moscow and their transfer to Armenian SSR from 1920 through the late 1960s, political purges and suppression of cultural and political rights, Azerbaijan rose again to demand its rightful place in the family of sovereign nations. Intolerant to Azerbaijan's will and quest for fundamental political liberties, Kremlin punished Azerbaijan with invasion of Baku in January 1990. The Black January massacre as it became known in Azerbaijan's history, paved the way for the eventual proclamation of independence of Azerbaijan. The South Caucasian republic restored its independence on October 18, 1991. 

Today, Azerbaijan has its rightful place in the community of nations as an independent, tolerant, multiethnic and multi-confessional state. Although it still suffers from the Armenian aggression and continued occupation of its territories by Armenian armed forces, it has managed to transform itself into an economic powerhouse of the region and a recognized international player on the world stage. We join Azerbaijanis around the world in wishing our homeland strength, prosperity and soonest restoration of its territorial integrity. In the words of one of the principal founders of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, Mammad Emin Rasulzade, the tricolor "flag once raised will never fall!" 

USAN Board of Directors

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