The article below by Mehrazar Suren was originally posted in Azargoshnasp.

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It is a well known fact that when the Soviet created (by the direct orders of Sovietg leadership) to separate Iranian Azerbaijan and Kurdistan provinces (Click here…).

When the Azerbaijan democratic party lead by Pishevari took over, they first ask Iranian troops to disarm (with Soviet forces), then they arrested them and subsequently massacred them. This was before even a shot by the Iranian army was fired (this was the era when Ferqeh took over Azerbaijan). One example is a the massacare of 300 Iranian troops by the Ferqeh that brought sadness in both the province of Azerbaijan as well as the rest of Iran and has been documented by Ayatollah Mojtahedi Tabrizi and others.

Professor. Hamid Ahmadi writes on this incident:

یکی از نکته​ی جالب در مقاله​ی فوق اینست:

چنین وضعی در جریان حملات فدائیان فرقه دموکرات به مراکز ارتش و ژاندارمری ایران در آذربایجان روی داد و قبل از هرگونه تخاصم از سوی ارتش، ده​ها نظامی از سوی فدائیان فرقه دموکرات قتل عام شدند. برای نمونه می​توان از قتل بی​رحمانه حدود سیصد نیروی ژاندارمری ایران توسط فدائیان فرقه دموکرات نام برد، که تأسف بسیاری از اهالی تبریز و آذربایجان را برانگیخت و برخی از شاهدان عینی حوادث به آن اشاره کرده​اند(ر.ک.: آیت الله میرزاعبدالله مجتهدی، بحران آذربایجان،(خاطرات آیت​الله مجتهدی تبریزی)، به کوشش رسول جعفریان، ص 138-238). همچنین کشتار مردم زنجان از سوی غلام یحیی دانشیان فرمانده فرقه دموکرات در این شهر زبان​زد همه است(در رابطه با حوادث زنجان ر.ک.: همان، ص 62-63 و 301-302).

See: “Dowlat Maadern o Aqwaam Irani –Hamid Ahmadi” also available here

“Schenectady Gazette in its of Dec 7, 1945” writes:” 30 Killed by Iran Rebels in new attacks”

“”Rebels have killed 30 persons in new attacks in Azerbaijan province, official reports from Tabriz announced tonight, and Premier Ibrajim Hakimi demanded freedom of movement into the Soviet-occupied area for the Iranian government to “redress the givevances of the people.”

 Insurrectinonist Democratic party members attacked troops billet at Sarab, killing 21 gendarmes and two officers, the reports relayed by the Tabriz radio said. Six other persons were reported killed near Marand, between Tabriz and the Russian frontier, and the police chief at Tabriz was killed in another clash, the radio said.

The local police chief and presient of the local tribunals were slain in the Marand fighting,

Tabriz, reported.

In Tabriz itself, capital of troubled Azerbaijan province, insurrectionists tried to occupy the military garage, but were prevented by Governor Bayat, who just recently took the governship at Tabriz, the broadcast said””

It is of interest that the Sponsor of Ferqeh, Mir Ja’far Bagherov himself had killed 70,000 people:

By 1940 an estimated 70,000 Azeris had died as a result of purges carried out under Baghirov. The intelligentsia was decimated, broken, and eliminated as a social force and the old guard Communist elite was destroyed.) Historical Dictionary of Azerbaijan, Asian/Oceanian Historical Dictionaries; No. 31 by Swietochowski, Tadeusz Publication: Lanham, Md. Scarecrow Press, 1999)”

This is interesting because in the letters and correspondences of Pishevari with Mir Ja’ffar Bagherov, Pishevari constantly addresses him as “Dear loving and benevolent father” Consequently, such a mass murderer.

In a letter on the Iranian month of 21 Azar, Iranian year 1329, Pishevari and Ferqeh leadership send a letter to Mir Ja’far Bagherov:

The Khalq (people) of South Azerbaijan who are an integral and inseparable part of Northern Azerbaijan, like all the people of the world, have their hope in the Soviet people and government”.

In Azeri Turkish:

“”aziz ve mehrabaan aataamiz Mir-Dja’far Baagherov! shomaalindaan aayrilmaaz birhaseh oolaan djonoobi aazarbaaidjaan khalghi, donyaanin bootoon khalgh-lari kimi omidgozooni booyook soviet khalghinah ve soviet dolatinah tikmishdir”( by Dr.Enayatollah Reza. Published by “Iranzamin publishing”, Tehran, 1360, pp.211-227)

It should be noted that “South Azerbaijan” for historical Azarbaijan (Iranian region dating to Atropatene) is a name designed to separate this Iranian province from Iran. This issue has been dealt with elsewhere, but sufficient to say is that the name Azerbaijan is Persian (not Turkish), it has no ethnic value till the 20th century, and the people of Arran/Sharvan are not all “Turkish” but there are Iranian,Armenians and Caucasins there was well. Consequently, this is no different than calling the republic of Azerbaijan as Southern Lezginistan, Eastern Armenia and Northern Talyshistan. The most important thing to note is that the name Atropatene/Aturpatakan occurs even before the advent of Turkic speaking groups in world history, and this province in Iran is also diverse.

Going back to the topic of this article, since the Ferqeh had attacked the Iranian and massacred its conscripts, there was bad blood between the Iranian army and the Soviet Ferqeh. Consequently, Ferqeh and its Soviet backers never felt remorse for the killing of Iranian soldiers.

In recent era, pan-Turkist authors in order to feel victimhood claim that 100,000 people were massacred in Tabriz when Iranian army took over. Unlike the realities of the genocides committed by Changiz Khan (most of his troops being of Turkic background) or the Armenian/Greek/Assyrian genocides commited by Turkey, such a false claim by Pan-Turkist does not hold any water.

First, pro-republic of Azerbaijan sources like Swietchowski note:

As it turned out, the Soviets had to recognize that their ideas on Iran were premature. The issue of Iranian Azerbaijan became one of the opening skirmishes of the Cold War, and, largely under the Western powers’ pressure, Soviet forces withdrew in 1946. The autonomous republic collapsed soon afterward, and the members of the Democratic Party took refuge in the Soviet Union, fleeing Iranian revenge.. In Tabriz, the crowds that had just recently applauded the autonomous republic were now greeting the returning Iranian troops, and Azerbaijani students publicly burned their native-language textbooks. The mass of the population was obviously not ready even for a regional self-government so long as it smacked of separatism”. (Swietochowski, Tadeusz 1989. “Islam and the Growth of National Identity in Soviet Azerbaijan”, Kappeler, Andreas, Gerhard Simon, Georg Brunner eds. Muslim Communities Reemerge: Historical Perspective on Nationality, Politics, and Opposition in the Former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. Durham: Duke University Press, pp. 46-60.)

Swietchowski (again a pro-Azerbaijani republic source) also notes:

Addressing the troops entering Azerbaijan, General ‘Ali Razmara proclaimed that they were restoing the soul of Iran to the nation, and henceforth the anniversary of the event would be celebrated by a military parade. By all accounts the population’s enthusiatic welcome of the Iranian army was genuine. Among the elated throngs were many who barely a year ago had also enthusiastically greeted the rise of the Pishevari government; the change of heart was due not only to disenchantment with the Democrats but also the uncontrollable violence being meted out at the sympathizers of the faller regime. Rossow conservatively estimated 500 killed during the lawless interregnum that preceded the coming of the Iranian troops. Hundreds of others were tried and jailed, and scores were hanged. ”( Tadeusz Swietochowski, Russia and Azerbaijan: A Borderland in Transition. New York: Columbia. University Press, 1995. pg 154)

According to Professor. Gary R. Hess:

On December 11, an Iranian force entered Tabriz and the Peeshavari government quickly collapsed. Inded the Iranians were enthusiastically welcomed by the people of Azerbaijan, who strongly preferred dominination by Tehran rather than Moscow. The Soviet willingness to forego its influence in (Iranian) Azerbaijan probably resulted from several factors, including the realization that the sentiment for autonomy had been exaggerated and that oil concessions remained the more desirable long-term Soviet Objective.”( Gary. R. Hess Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 89, No. 1 (March., 1974))

Although what these scholars say is important here is no better source than the contemporary sources with regards to this event.

Luckily, now archives from that era are readily available on the internet.

The newsreport here reads: “Hundreds claimed shot in Azerbaijan Province” (Dect 17, 1946),

London (AP) “The Moscow radio charted Thurday that Iranian central government troops had shot “hundreds of persons in Azerbaijan province and had instigated “Attacks on Soviet citizens in the provincal capital of Tabriz“.

The broadcast contented that the government troops had broken Iranian Premier Ahmad Qavam’s agreement to enter the province which borders the Soviet Union, peacebly.

 “In the course of the last few days over 600 Azerbaijan Democrats have been murdered and about 300 arrested in Tabriz,” a Tass dispatch declated. “Bodies of killed Democrats are scattered through the steets” of the provincial capital, the Russian news agency’s own correspondent in Tabriz wrote in a second dispatch broadcast by Moscow. “Unbridled bandits instigated by anti-Sovient elements” and “with the connivance” of the Iranian central government cammander “are also raiding Soviet institutions and attacking Sovient citizens.” the Tass correspondent added. The broadcast constitued the first major charge by Moscow against the central Iranian g overnment since the Soviet supported semi-autonomous government of Azerbaijan province agreed last week to allow the entry of central government troops to supervise elections. The Azerbaijan Democratic party was a moving force in the province’s semi-autonomous regime which now has collapsed

We note that Soviet sources who were sponsoring separatism claimed that 600 people belonging to Ferqeh were killed and 300 arrested.

The Iranian government denied the accusations of the Soviet government and radio as reported the Chicago tribute:

Besides theSoviet accusation and Iranian government report, a British source which might be more neutral has mentioned:

A British source cited by the US Embassy in Tehran gives the number of killed Democrats as 421. The American Embass’s report has been classified under wash. Nat. Arch. 891.00/1-1547, 15 January 1947”( Touraj Atabaki, Azerbaijan: Ethnicity and the Struggle for Power in Iran, [Revised Edition of Azerbaijan, Ethnicity and Autonomy in the Twentieth-Century Iran] (London: I.B.Tauris, 2000. pg 227).

Consequently, we make the following conclusion:

1) The Ferqeh in 1945 attacked Iranian officials, troops and police and summarily mass executed some of them. None of these had any ethnic component as most of these troops that were mass executed were Iranian Azeris. But this shows Ferqeh was not a peaceful movement but rather an armed and violent movement (and created and financed by the USSR).

2) The Iranian government army, which also compromised a large Iranian Azeri contingent (and it was the tribal Shahsevans who had an important part inrouting Ferqeh out of Zanjan) took back Iranian land that was under Soviet puppet occupation. During this take back, some members of the Ferqeh attacked Iranian troops and they were killed. The Iranian government only concentrated on political members of Ferqeh.

3) Many reports and books also indicate that the Ferqeh was routed by the people of Tabriz before the Iranian government arrived. It should be noted that Ferqeh had no popular support and collapsed in less than a week (where as the Mahabad government of Qazi Muhammad was able to hold on much longer).

For example an Iranian Azerbaijani writes:

یکی از ایرانیان وطن​دوست و اهالی آذربایجان می​نویسند:

دائی من که هنوز در قید حیات هستند به عنوان کسی که در جبهه توده ای ها و شاید هم فرقه چی های تبریز بوده و هنوز هم پشیمان نشده که شاید واقعیت را وارونه سازد، کاملا ضد این حرف را میگوید ! کل خشونت از طرف مردم عوام پیش آمد (ایشان حتی خانواده هایی را که دست به خشونت بر ضد فرقه چی ها زدند را هم نام میبرند!) ارتش ایران تنها مدتی در قافلانکوه درنگ کرد – شاید برای اینکه درگیری پیدا نکند – و تاخیر منجر به حمله مردم بر ضد فرقه چی ها شد. بعد از ورود ارتش حتی بعضی از مقامات به اصطلاح دولت محلی ابقا شدند (مثلا دکتر جاوید) و بر عکس دائی من از بد نامی و خشونت افرادی از قبیل غلام یحیی شکایت داشتند که آدم شقه میکرد و دست و پای ژاندارمها را اره کرده بود و مثلا وزیر جنگ فرقه بود. بیسوادی غلام یحیی هنوزهم معروف است.

4) We can say that the estimate of Swietchowski which matches that of the British embassy is likely and Soviet estimate of (600 Ferqeh members killed) is an exaggeration. The Iranian army could also be correct, since the people of Tabriz themselves dished out revenge to the Ferqeh members as indicated by eyewitness reports from 1946. It should be noted that any eyewitness report that is not from 1946 is not a valid source, and sources from 1949, 1950 and etc. and today, cannot contradict news reports, eyewitness reports and etc. of the media and the people of the time.

5) Be that it may, the pan-Turk estimates of 25,000 and 100,000 is a falsification, and no such list or grave of such people have been identified (although pan-Turks might in the future makeup such graves as well). The pan-Turk estimate is meant to spread hatred and the claim that Iranian army was a “Persophone army” who massacarred “innocent civilians”. By abusing the fact that Iranians were also called Persian at the time too, and Iranian army is called Persian army , they rely on non-eyewitness accounts. What is important to note here is that it was Ferqeh that attacked the Iranian army, officials and civilians in 1945 and committed atrocity with Soviet support. Consequently, they were members of a warring party, and the Iranian government treated them as a warring party, and not a “dissident voice”. It was an arm conflict, between the Iranian government and a separatist party created, financed and planted by the USSR. The conflict had no ethnic component as the Iranian army, bulk of which was Azeri in the Azerbaijan area, did not target civilians but only members of Ferqeh which was an armed party. The swift and quick collapse of Ferqeh showed that the civilians did not support it, or else it would not collapse so quickly.

Swietchowski notes:

As it turned out, the Soviets had to recognize that their ideas on Iran were premature. The issue of Iranian Azerbaijan became one of the opening skirmishes of the Cold War, and, largely under the Western powers’ pressure, Soviet forces withdrew in 1946. The autonomous republic collapsed soon afterward, and the members of the Democratic Party took refuge in the Soviet Union, fleeing Iranian revenge.. In Tabriz, the crowds that had just recently applauded the autonomous republic were now greeting the returning Iranian troops, and Azerbaijani students publicly burned their native-language textbooks. The mass of the population was obviously not ready even for a regional self-government so long as it smacked of separatism”. (Swietochowski, Tadeusz 1989. “Islam and the Growth of National Identity in Soviet Azerbaijan”, Kappeler, Andreas, Gerhard Simon, Georg Brunner eds. Muslim Communities Reemerge: Historical Perspective on Nationality, Politics, and Opposition in the Former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. Durham: Duke University Press, pp. 46-60.)

According to Professor. Gary R. Hess:

On December 11, an Iranian force entered Tabriz and the Peeshavari government quickly collapsed. Inded the Iranians were enthusiastically welcomed by the people of Azerbaijan, who strongly preferred dominination by Tehran rather than Moscow. The Soviet willingness to forego its influence in (Iranian) Azerbaijan probably resulted from several factors, including the realization that the sentiment for autonomy had been exaggerated and that oil concessions remained the more desirable long-term Soviet Objective.”( Gary. R. Hess Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 89, No. 1 (March., 1974))

Consequently scholars agree that the swift collapse of Ferqeh was due to lack of support. Similarly, not a single source supports the pan-Turkist claims of 25,000 to 100,000 “dead people” in Azerbaijan. Rather all sources indicate (and the most pro-Ferqeh sources like those of the USSR) that between “400-600” members of Ferqeh were killed by the people of Tabriz and Iranian army. And as mentioned Ferqeh was a warring party which attacked Iranian officials, army and civilians in 1945 as documented by many sources including the eyewitness accounts of Shabistari and news sources from 19145.

These problems belong to the past and it is best to pursue peace and friendship between all peoples of the world. However, one way to cause hatred is to forge and makeup history as is done with the pan-Turk claim of 25,000 to 100,000 “innocent civilians killed by Iranian Army”.

In order to spread hatred, pan-Turks have to comeup with evil “Armenians” or “Persians”.. where we know that if we look at history, the numerous incursions by Oghuz and Turkoman tribes (not related to Turkish speaking Iranians who were Turkified linguistically) an the Mongol incursion (most troops of Turkic stock), the attacks of Timur , etc. wiped out and Turkicized half of Iranian speaking territories (Soghd, Chorasmia, Arran and Azarbaijan) , and killed millions of Iranians.