Red Kurdistan

The Red Kurdistan (Ku: Kurdistana Sor, Az: Qızıl Kürdistan, Ru: Красный Курдистан) denotes an autonomous province in the former USSR, which existed between 1923 and 1929. Today, Red Kurdistan’s territories belong to Azerbaijan in international law but occupied by Armenia.

Kurdistan Uyezd

The area between the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia’s Syunik Province is historically populated by Kurdish tribes. Major Kurdish settlement in this area were Laçın (Kurdish: Laçîn), Kəlbəcər (Kurdish: Kelbajar) and Qubadlı (Kurdish: Qûbadlî).

In 1920, this region became part of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. On May 23, 1923, the area was given the status of an autonomous district (Uyezd) within Azerbaijan and was named Red Kurdistan. However, other Kurdish areas did not receive a national circle and were not allowed to join the Red Kurdistan. The official language of Red Kurdistan was Kurmanji and its administrative center was Laçın.

According to the census in Soviet Union in 1926, 51,200 people lived in the Red Kurdistan, including 37,470 (73.1%) Kurds, 13,520 (26.3%) Azerbaijani and 256 (0.5%) Armenians.[1]

Kurdistan Okrug

On April 8, 1929, the uyezd was disintegrated. On May 30, 1930, Kurdistan Okrug was established in its place. The okrug incorporated the region of previous uyezd and furthermore whole Zangilansky District and a piece of Dzhebrailsky District.

Soviet authorities founded the okrug keeping in mind the end goal to pull in the sensitivities of Kurds in neighboring Iran and Turkey and exploit Kurdish developments in those states. Nonetheless, because of the dissents of Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was worried that open help of Kurdish development could harm relations with Turkey and Iran, the okrug was sold out on July 23, 1930.[2]

In the late 1930s, Soviet experts expelled the majority of Kurds of Azerbaijan and Armenia to Kazakhstan, and Kurds of Georgia additionally moved toward becoming casualties of Stalin’s cleanses in 1944. Starting from 1961, there were endeavors by the deportees for the reclamation of their rights, led by Mehmet Babayev who lived in Baku, which turned out to be futile.[3]

Lachin Kurdish Republic

In 1992, after the seizure of Laçın by Armenian forces amid the Nagorno-Karabakh War, the Lachin Kurdish Republic was announced by a gathering of Kurds led by Wekîl Mustafayev. In any case, since a large portion of the region’s Kurdish community had fled alongside the ethnic Azeris and had taken shelter in different zones of Azerbaijan, this attempt was unsuccessful. Mustafayev later sought asylum in Italy.[4]

Maps of Red Kurdistan by Mehrdad Izady,1997