Azerbaijani Students Make Negligent Political Claims at the UC Irvine

The crowd at the UC Irvine presentation


IRIVINE—On Thursday, November 15, more than a hundred community members and University of California- Irvine students attended the lecture entitled “The Karabakh Conflict From Ceasefire to Safarov: Analysis Via Television News Coverage: 1990s to 2012” hosted by the Armenian Studies Program at UC-Irvine. The lecturer for the evening was Dr. Levon Marashlian, a professor of History at Glendale Community College and a guest lecturer at California State University Northridge, the University of California- Irvine, and the University of California- Los Angeles.

The moderator for the evening was Professor Touraj Daryaee, a professor of Persian Studies and a major contributor to the UCI Armenian Studies Program. The informative lecture concluded with a Question and Answer session in which several Azerbaijani students made political claims that were misquoted and negligent of the information presented during the lecture.

The lecture began at 7:30 p.m. following a reception hosted by the program. Professor Marashlian showed news coverage of the various events in the Karabakh struggle, that began in February 1988, when the Supreme Soviet rule of Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast, voted to unite with Armenia, with between a 76% and 94% majority of Armenians. By the summer of 1989 the Armenian-populated areas of the NKAO were under blockade by Azerbaijan. On July 12 the Nagorno-Karabakh Supreme Soviet voted to secede from Azerbaijan, which was rejected, and in 1991, the oblast was back under Azerbaijani control. Marashlian, in discussing the series of events chronologically, began by stating, “both sides suffered greatly” during the time of war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, with great losses on both ends. Video coverage included images of Azerbaijani and Armenian losses during the war.

Professor Marashlian discussed the various requirements of the Madrid Principles adopted by Armenia for ceasefire in 2007, which is constantly being breached on both ends in a tense deadlock but which grants Armenians some sort of autonomy in Azerbaijan until both countries agree to let the region take a vote on its independence. He concluded with several points drawn from his historical analysis of the situation: Armenia needed Nagorno-Karabakh because Karabakh is a current source of food and revenue for Armenia given that Armenia is blockaded by both Turkey and Azerbaijan, leaving it “isolated” due to “poor diplomacy.”

He pointed out that Azerbaijan did not need Nagorno-Karabakh geographically, because the oil running through Azerbaijan brings in roughly $13 billion. Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan only makes their oil susceptible to damage by internal conflict in the region. He concluded his lecture by stating that President Aliyev’s act of freeing and promoting axe-murderer Ramil Safarov only a few months ago is a message to the rest of the world and to Nagorno-Karabakh’s future: it is acceptable to murder defenseless Armenians in their sleep, and autonomy in Azerbaijan means Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh may be on the verge of facing another genocide.

Azerbaijani students, present at the event, attacked the professor in the Question-and-answer session. Professor Marashlian was asked to draw a contrast between Ramil Safarov and Varoujan Garabedian, a man convicted for the 1983 ASALA bombing of the Turkish Airlines office in Paris. The Azeri student claimed that the two situations were the same. Professor Marashlian answered in stating that the two situations were different since Garabedian had completed his sentence in France and then was deported from France, but was not pardoned and promoted in Armenia, nor was he treated as a hero. He had simply been given citizenship by Armenia. The students insisted the two cases were the same, but then continued on to several other issues.

In a subsequent question, an Azerbaijani attendee asked the professor, why he had not explicitly mentioned the 1992 Khojaly Massacre, the killing of civilians during the early Karabakh conflict. Marashlian insisted that he showed the photos from Khojaly, and did mention that both sides of this war had experienced many losses. The Azerbaijani students insisted on continuing the discussion by bringing up Markar Melkonian’s “My Brother’s Road” – the diary of Armenia’s National Hero and Armenian-American, Monte (Avo) Melkonian. Professor Marashlian responded again that both sides suffered losses and that the Sumgait riots during which 26 Armenians and 6 Azerbaijanis were killed was a triggering event for the conflict that led to war. Marashlian also mentioned the Azerbaijani photographer who had concluded, based on photographic evidence, that many of the bodies found at Khojaly were moved there, and that after publishing his findings he was executed by Azerbaijani forces.

Another Azerbaijani student yelled that she had been born and raised in Nagorno-Karabakh and that the professor’s claim to there being no Azerbaijani people in Karabakh was wrong, and that the 800,000 Azerbaijani refugees had a right to go back to their homes. Professor Marashlian reiterated that the entire population of Nagorno-Karabakh was approximately 175,000 before the war, and that the majority were Armenian. He also emphasized that the Armenian government was prepared to return the regions jus outside the borders of the Republic to Azerbaijan as part of the Madrid principles, thus allowing the majority too return to their homes. He also pointed out that those regions were held merely for security reasons and were a staging ground for Azerbaijani acts of aggression, just as the current sniper fire continues.

Because of the tense atmosphere of the lecture, Professor Daryaee asked Professor Marashlian to conclude with a statement. Professor Marashlian concluded with attention to the severity of the case: Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh are facing a deadlock that can erupt in war and genocide at any moment. Without activism to keep Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia itself will eventually disappear.

Talar Malakian is the Chairperson of the Armenian National Committee of America Orange County Chapter, which defends the rights, advances the interests, and promotes the well being of the county’s Armenian American community and promotes increased civic participation at the grassroots and public policy levels.


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  1. Minas said:

    Not an inch of land should be given back to Azerbaijan. They have proven time and time again that they are incapable of negotiating a truce. Glorifying a convicted murderer, threatening to shoot down civilian aircraft’s, declaring Armenians from all around the world as an enemy of the state clearly proves that peace can not be achieved. Lets not forget the historical truth behind this conflict. The regions of Artsakh and Nakhichevan were and are historically part of Armenia, unfortunately, for multiple reasons, Stalin decided to annex both regions over to Soviet Azerbaijan even though the majority of the population was Armenian. I sincerely hope that a peace agreement can be reached, but this is not a realistic solution as long as one party continuously undermines the peace negotiations by distorting historical facts, and spreading anti-Armenian propaganda.

    • Namik said:

      Our lands will return back to their owners and can not remain occupied by Armenians for ever. Your fables on historic rights prove to be so much false in light of historic archive facts that you won’t be able to deceive the international community. Time is now for you to follow UN Security Counsel Resolutions demanding that Armenian forces immediately withdraw from occupied territories. Time will come soon after Russia will cease to control Armenia not independent so far.

      • Avery said:

        Our lands were returned to their original owners, indigenous Armenians.
        Rest of our lands cannot remain occupied by AxeriTatarTurk invaders forever.

        Time is now for you foreign invaders to leave our Armenian lands and go back to East and Central Asia, the homeland of you ancestors.

      • Jacque said:

        Namik just remember your people destroyed a historic cemetery in Nakhichevan and murdered innocent civilians in Baku . Don’t be ignorant like your government . Give back Nakhichevan and western Armenia and Armenians will gladly give back couple of your lands that you’re talking about.
        We are neighbors after all and we have to learn to respect each other and live peacefully side by side .
        Educate your self and take back your country from a dictator called alyieve that’s when you’ll be free.
        Good luck

      • steve said:

        dear Namik google it
        show me where is AZERBAIJAN 290 BCE

  2. George said:

    Azerbeijan’s government propaganda and misinformation have brain washed Azeri population, when the President Aliev makes declarations that Armenia didn’t exist, and was a coloni of Azerbaijan, what one can expect from people who make such irresponsible declaranions

  3. Ray said:

    The real problem with turilic races is there is no end to there goal and objective it is not only Armenian’s they took native lands from. The Persians,Greeks,Assyrians,Georgians,Armenian,Kurds,Zaza , Talish,Lezgi and many others have suffered in the hands of these Asian indavers and if they could they would take the rest of the lands from us so this is a serious issue for all the names I mentioned above. They should all talk about this becasue once they are done with Armenian’s all of you are next! May God help us all.

  4. A Mahdavi said:

    Azeris are not Turks, they are genetically the same as Iranians. In fact, South Azerbaijan, which is on Armenia’s southern border and Republic of Azerbaijan used to be one country until it was split by the Turkmenchay treaty. Why do you think Azeris are Shiat Muslims and not Sunni like Turks? Why do you think Azeris have same traditional holidays as Iranian? The name Azerbaijan means Guardian of Fire in old Persian, which originates from Zoroastrianism which pre-dates the Abrahamic religions. How is it that you say Azerbaijan are Turks? There is even the old Azari language which is like old Persian. How can you possibly argue that Azeris are not indigenous to the area? You really need to do some research! It’s all available online, just Google the terms I used here.

    • Ed said:

      Azeris are not turks, but they speak turkish. Azeris are not turks, but they declare turkey and azerbaijan are “”two states one nation. Azeris have have same traditional holidays as Iranians, because of the Iranian influence on cultureless azeris.

    • said:

      Azeri Turks are nomadic Turks, the rest of the population of Baku Republic as well as Iran has nothing in common with their nomadic civilization. The so-called Azerbaijan was artificially created after WWI by the invading Turkish army and local nomadic Tartar tribes of Afshars, White and Black Sheep, etc. on the lands of native Armenian, Tolysh, Lezgi, Tat and other peoples.

      The name “Azerbaijan” was purposefully stolen from the neighboring provinces of Iran by Turks and their Bolshevik buddies who had plans of spreading their revolution to the Red East.

      Historically the provinces now occupied by Baku Republic were never called Azerbaijan and the nation of “Azerbaijanis” never existed. This is a total bastard of Turkey and the ruling minority of nomadic Turks there should be called Azeri Turks. The rest of the native population are discriminated and exploited by them.

      The reason why Iranians in northern provinces speak Turkic dialects is the same Turkic yoke that was imposed on them for 200+ years. It was enough time to switch their language but not their culture which is close to the rest of the native peoples of the region and radically different from the nomadic Turkic invaders.

  5. said:

    To me the most appalling in this story are actually the statements attributed to the Armenian speaker. Who gave him the right to talk such nonsense? Where did he pulled this from?

    “Armenian government was prepared to return the regions jus outside the borders of the Republic to Azerbaijan as part of the Madrid principles, thus allowing the majority too return to their homes. He also pointed out that those regions were held merely for security reasons”

    What Armenian government? How can Armenian government “return” something that does not belong to them? Armenian government has no jurisdiction over this part of the ancient Artsakh lands that were given to Baku Republic after Turkish army committed Genocide of Armenians there in the beginning of last century! It’s been more than 20 years since these lands were reintegrated into Artsakh, a whole new generation of Armenians grew up there and ready to protect their Motherland. He needs to talk about returning the remaining Arstakh lands still occupied by Baku Republic!!

    The homes of Azeri Turk nomads are in the Altai mountains of nowadays Russia where their ancestors came from. They can return to these homes anytime – Russia is rapidly depopulating and accepts new immigrants from Baku Republic every day.

    How can an Armenian scholar buy into this cheap Azeri Turk propaganda trick about the “My Brother’s Road” book? Has he read the book himself? Is he aware of the context of the quotes used by Azeri Turk propaganda machine?

    The last thing that this professor doesn’t understand when he tries to rationalize his position by saying that Azerbaijan doesn’t need Artsakh geographically or implies that Azeri Turks should be ashamed of Safarov is that he clearly does not understand that we are dealing with an entirely different civilization of nomads whose values are opposite to ours. It is perfectly OK in their culture to kill sleeping people, women, children, and elderly. In fact this is the only way they were able to concur Armenian lands throughout the history. Safarov is their true hero and they have many more of Safarov going back all the way to their centuries of travels in Asia. A professor of history ought to know that!

    Geography argument doesn’t make any sense to these nomads. They do not understand land ownership and do not value it. They go where their sheep go. What they value is conquest, genocide, robbery – they would take all lands they could concur and kill all native inhabitants because they CAN, not because they NEED.

    • Avery said:

      well said Voskanapat.

      (assuming Ms. Malakian accurately reported what Prof. Marashlian said)

      no one outside of NKR, which at this time includes our historic liberated lands, has the right to gift anything to anyone. (what ‘return’ are we talking about, BTW: how do you ‘return’ something that belongs to you ? you gift it; you don’t ‘return’ it)

      If the people of Artsakh – and only people of Artsakh – want to gift something to Axerbaijan in exchange for several 100 US$ Billion, or access to the Caspian Sea, or whatever, then it is their decision.

      Armenians worldwide must back our brothers and sisters of NKR in whatever decision they take.

      And if any Armenian anywhere is still not convinced, remember these facts:
      NKAO Armenians wanted no more than to live as Armenians on the original NKAO footprint.
      Murderous Axeri invading savages did not even want Armenians to have a little postage-stamp size land to live on as Armenians.
      Axerbaijan invaded NKR and attempted to exterminate and ethnically cleanse indigenous Armenians from their ancestral lands: they nearly succeeded. In the Summer of 1992, Axerbaijan had occupied 48% of NKAO footprint.

      Question to Armenians who still want to give this or that to invaders: if ceasefire was signed in 1992, do you guys actually think Axerbaijan would return that 48% to NKR today ?
      If Axerbaijan had succeeded in wiping out NKR, would anyone ask them today to give back NKR to Armenians who were 75% of the NKR at the time of the invasion ?
      Who were reduced from their previous 95% in the 20s by the slow but relentless ethnic cleansing program conducted by foreign Turkic invaders ?

      Armenians of NKR threw out the murderers and liberated additional historic Armenian lands.
      Glory to Artsakh’s mountain warriors: they saved Armenia proper from slow death.
      No piece of paper can replace the safety and security of defensible land depth.

      • Kevork said:

        Hi Voskanapat and Avery,
        Listen everything you guys said is true and I agree 100%, however, give the professor some credit, I think he is very knowledgeable, he has written some brilliant articles. I think his approach here was merely “political” and was stating what had transpired before in negotiations, and these were all political games. It does not mean NKR is giving anything, and everyone knows that. Also remember that whatever he feels, he cannot say and just openly attack those idiotic students, because he is speaking in public, and also among mostly non-Armenians (presumably), so he has to keep everything civil, especially given his position.

        Regarding the lame Garabedian-Safarov analogy: always remember the most important differences besides the ones already stated: Garabedian was acting on his own, Safarov was acting on behalf of the Azeri government. Garabedian was part of a loose, divided, unorganized and unrecognized organization, Safarov was sent by the Azeri government. Garabedian did not represent Armenia, or any political parties of the diaspora, and Safarov represented Azerbaijan at the NATO facilities on a mission of peace, which Safarov turned into a mission of terrorism, and Azerbaijan condoned. Thus, only an idiot would be desperate enough to compare these cases, and I believe Azeris fit the bill perfectly.

  6. Artin said:

    NOT ONE INCH OF LAND MUST BE GIVEN BACK!! IN FACT MORE SHOULD BE TAKEN!! Armenians have suffered enough at the hands of the cruel and unrelenting Turks and Azeri’s. I will be VERY angry if even one single tiny centimeter is given back to the Azeri’s! They have NO RIGHT to that land, ANY OF IT or that oil. That is OURS. That WHOLE area is ours and Iran’s. I am sick and tired of you Azeri scum, if you want your land back so bad, come and get it! Stop talking garbage and come get it! Fight for it instead of fleeing like your fathers did you cowards!! This is the FIRST of many steps, Armenia WILL regain ALL of her lost land! We are no longer sheeps being led to the slaughter, we are no longer naive fools who think others are out to help us. We can only help each other. I am willing to DIE for Armenia and my Armenian countrymen you Azeri slime, think hard ARE YOU?? You can destroy our churches, and khatchkars, you can blockade us and even try to rewrite history but no matter what you do, IT WILL ALL BE LIES. We are and have always been the greater men, the only men, amongst a horde of cowards, animals and barbarians. God Bless our Motherland, All Armenians everywhere and our culture. For the first time in a LONG time, we will have what is rightfully ours. Come and get your land Azeri vermin, cmon, I BEG YOU.

    • edward demian said:

      My sentiment exactly. Armenian historical border is the Kura river. And so what if they have oil. We have water! We have proven that we can live without oil; But can they live
      wwithout water? The Armenians could divert every drop of water destined for
      Azerbaidjian, sell it to Iran for a very handsome profit. The oil will run out far soooner than the water. Armenia needs to play its hands better. ()Better POCKER)