Struggle for Freedom 1923-1988
The authorities of Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic (AzSSR) systematically and persistently violated the rights and interests of the Armenian population of the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Oblast during the entire period of its existence under Azeri rule. Azerbaijan viewed Nagorno Karabakh primarily as a source for raw materials. Its policy of discrimination against Nagorno Karabakh was aimed at artificial suppression of its social-economic development and active de-Armenianization. Armenian monuments and cultural artifacts were destroyed or presented as Azeri origin. Because of this discrimination, the Armenian population never abandoned its intent to secede from Azerbaijan. Trying to avoid the same plight of Nakhichevan, an area once heavily populated by Armenians but of which eventually disappeared, Nagorno Karabakh Armenians saw secession as the only guarantee for a secure future.
Their struggle against the Azeris used many methods and took different forms despite Azerbaijan's efforts to crush it. As early as the 1920s, the Central Committee of the Communist Party (CCCP) of Azerbaijan was forced to discuss issues pertaining to the Karabakh movement. Many leaders of NKAO and its regions were accused of nationalism and were punished in the 1920-1930-ies; some communist party organizations were disbanded in Nagorno Karabakh.
A number of attempts were made to raise the Nagorno Karabakh issue before the central authorities of the USSR after WW II (in 1945, 1965, 1967, and 1977). Representatives of the people of Nagorno Karabakh appealed to Moscow with numerous letters and petitions. 45,000 people signed a petition in 1965. Based on this petition, the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) ordered the CCCPs of Armenia and Azerbaijan to jointly investigate the Nagorno Karabakh problem. Nevertheless, Azerbaijan once again sidestepped a possible resolution to the problem by finding support among influential leaders in the USSR.
The Azerbaijani authorities policies against the Armenian included the provocation of ethnic clashes. In the guise of crushing popular protests, Azerbaijani authorities shot and jailed nearly twenty Armenians, while more than ten disappeared, and more than 150 were suppressed. More than 100 families were forced to leave Karabakh due to persecutions, which lasted for two years. These violent acts were initiated and implemented by former KGB head and current President of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev.
Numerous suggestions regarding the Nagorno Karabakh issue were made during the discussions about the new USSR Constitution in 1977. Despite the fact that top-level officials acknowledged the problem, a solution was deferred indefinitely.
For example, the Presidium of the USSR Council