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NKR Shahumian District

On September 2, 1991 the Joint Session of Soviet People's Deputies of NKAR and the Shahoumian Region proclaimed the establishment of the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh within the boundaries of NKAO and the Shahoumian region, based on the Constitution and the laws of the former USSR, granting the peoples of the autonomous regions and ethnic groups the right to decide independently the issue of their statehood, in the event when a Union Republic secedes from the USSR.

In July 1921, the regional body of the Bolshevik leadership issued an illegal decision, by which Nagorno Karabakh was handed over to Azerbaijan, and they were entrusted with the task of establishing an autonomous region. However, during the creation of the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Oblast, the Azerbaijani leadership excluded almost half of the original territories of Nagorno Karabakh, including the Gyulistan province, later called the Shahoumian region.

Up to 1988, that is up to the commencement of the new phase of the Karabakh movement, the Armenians made up more than 80 % of the total population of the region, i. e. over 20 thousand. Already during the period of the Karabakh conflict, the Azerbaijani authorities abolished the Shahoumian region as an administrative entity with the aim of changing its demographic picture, and included it in the newly created Geranboy region. In summer 1992, the Shahoumian region was entirely occupied by the Azerbaijani armed forces, which, to the present time, continue to control it. Moreover, the occupation was accompanied by acts of an unprecedented violence. There is a documentary testimony about it by the Deputies of the Russian Parliament, members of the human rights organization "Memorial".

After the establishment of the cease-fire in May of 1994, the Azerbaijani authorities began implementing an intensive settlement policy in the Shahoumian region, in order to change the existing demographics. Moreover, the international organizations, which received inaccurate information from the Azerbaijani leadership regarding both the pre- and post-war conditions, in effect became a tool in this settlement policy implemented by Azerbaijan.

Specifically, the International Charity Corps, on the request of the USAID, developed a program of assistance to the liberated territory of the Geranboy district, aimed at settling 18,000 Azerbaijanis in that district. In addition, the statistics used in the said program, in reference to the ethnic composition of the villages in the Shahoumian region are inaccurate: only three of the 20 villages in the said region were mostly populated by Azeris, and not seven villages as the program documents claim. One village was Russian, and all the others were predominantly Armenian.

On August 22, 2001, the Azerbaijani President signed a decree, according to which the various state agencies were ordered to settle Azerbaijanis in the Shahoumian region on a permanent basis, providing them with homes and farmland. As a result of these measures, currently not only the Azerbaijani refugees from Armenia are living in the Shahoumian region, as it is stated in the International Charity Corps reports, but also the residents of other regions of Azerbaijan, as well as Turks-Meskhetins and Chechens are settled there.

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