May 28, 1918 was the seed for Independence of Azerbaijan

Millions of Azerbaijanis are celebrating 100 years anniversary of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR) on Monday as on May 28, 1918, ADR was established as the first independent and secular democratic state in the Islamic World.

The day of May 28 (Republic Day) has a special significance in the history of today’s Azerbaijan and in the lives of all Azerbaijanis who feel proud for fighting for their independent state throughout the 20th century and regained independence by sacrificing blood and flesh in 1991.

When I first visited Baku in early 90s, I asked question to my translator that why the most populous area of the city is (was) named as “May 28”?

She smiled at me and I could see that whole blood of her body appeared on her face and she said “May 28 is the day of birth of a Nation — A Day which is more important than my life and lives of my family”.

Her answer brought several questions in my mind but I held myself for answering further questions as I could see extreme emotions on her face and wanted to give her a break from an emotive state of mind. It was winter and the day was wet and cloudy. I offered her coffee at a nearby coffee shop and our sitting was the first of a series of conversations about the history of Azeri nation and such conversations continued till the day I left Baku through its old airport building with a clear vision about what a role “May 28” plays in the life of a Azerbaijani.

May 28 (Republic Day) is the day when Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was founded in 1918 as the first secular democratic state in the Muslim East headed by Mammad Amin Rasulzadeh.

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The fire of an independent state was burning inside every Azerbaijani under the cruel rule of Russian Empire. Azerbaijanis got a chance for securing independence when Russia under Czar died through February 1917 Revolution and a national movement started from Baku for an independent state for Azerbaijanis. On May 28, 1918 the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan (1918-1920) was proclaimed by Mammad Amin Rasulzadeh. DRA adopted its flag on November 9, 1918. DRA was short-lived and the Soviet Union invaded Azerbaijan on April 28, 1920. The independence was again snatched away from Azerbaijanis but desire for independence was not defeated.

The decline of USSR under Mikhail Gorbachev during early 90s gave another hope to Azerbaijanis to snatch back their independence. Judging the situation, Azerbaijanis on August 30, 1991 declared the Independence and Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic (Azerbaijan SSR) on October 18, 1991 through meetings officially got independence from former USSR. The decision was SSR was affirmed by a nationwide referendum in December 1991, while the Soviet Union officially ceased to exist on December 26, 1991

One can say that May 28, 1918 was the seed of independence that survived in the wet soil of desires and then brought up as a strong tree on October 18, 1991.

While remembering ADR Parliament, Kamila Aliyeva, a senior writer working with AzerNews writes that the Parliament of Azerbaijan which existed only 17 months conducted 145 sessions and worked on the establishment of the most up-to-date legal and democratic state that would ensure human rights and liberties, and protect the country’s independence and territorial integrity.

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She adds:

The ADR leaders played very important role in the foundation of the ADR and in the country’s history. Some of them were killed, forced to emigrate and punished in many different ways for dedicating their lives to the idea of free, secular, democratic and independent Azerbaijani state.

I believe that Azerbaijan is an example if the People are a Nation — then Independence can be achieved and sustained even under worst circumstances.

Writer of this article Agha Iqrar Haroon is a Development Observer. His area of work includes Central Asia, South Asia and Eastern European regions

 

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