Lachin Kurdish Republic is declared

  • (Translated) - By Mehmet Aktas
  • 30/11/2000 00:00:00

KOFî: The Kurds deported to Central Asia, Part of a series of articles by Mehmet Akta, Published in Turkish in Ozgur Politika

Lachin Kurdish Republic is declared

In the buses provided by the Yerevan municipal government, everyone was excited. Anyone who saw these Kurds would have thought that they were going not to proclaim a state, but rather to a wedding celebration. On 20 May I992, this group of Kurdish intellectuals and a few Armenian observers, when they reached Karabagh, declared the “Lachin Kurdish Republic” on the historical territory of “Kurdistana Sor”.

About a year after Babayef retired from the political stage, the question of Red Kurdistan once again came onto the Kurdish agenda in a big way. This time, it was the Armenians who wanted a Kurdish state to be declared in the Caucasus.

The proposal came from the Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, which had just attained independence.

The Armenians conducted their initial contacts with Kurdish intellectuals in Yerevan such as Karlan e Chachani, Emerik e Serdar, Professor Sherefe Eshiryan, and Tezegul a Wekil.

Professor Sheref e Eshiryan says that the first meeting with them was attended by Mirza Hagopian, Chief Advisor to Armenian Head of State Levon Ter Petrosian.

Professor Eshiryan relates: “In the first meeting with us, the Armenian side said, “We are cleansing Lachin and the surrounding area of Azeris. The Kurds have a historic right to this land. Come and proclaim your state. We don’t want the world to say that the Armenians have occupied Azeri land. We’ll be happy to have you declare a state there. We’ll even provide military assistance to you. Gather up all the Kurds of the former Soviet Union there.”

Most of the Kurdish intellectuals who had earlier been in YEKBUN were strongly opposed to the proclamation of “Red Kurdistan” on the basis of instigation from Armenia but without guarantees from Moscow. And the strongest opposition was offered by Babayef himself, who had spent all his life working toward such a goal.

In his view, the Armenians were playing a “game”; they wanted to use the Kurds against the Azeris, and would never give up the Kurdish territory that they had wrested via armed force from the hands of the Azeris.

Among the Kurdish intellectuals, mutual recriminations and accusations of being “agents” for various sides once again became the order of the day.

Kurds in Yerevan accused Babayef and his supporters of being “Azeri agents”, while Babayef called the others “Armenian agents”.

When the Armenians’ proposal reached Wekil Mustafa, who had been one of the leaders of the YEKBUN movement, he received it enthusiastically. He then went to Yerevan, and set to work.


In the spring of 1992, during which Armenian forces established absolute superiority in Karabagh and captured the Lachin region, some seventy Kurdish intellectuals and young people set out for Red Kurdistan in buses. About twenty of them were armed, while the others were dressed in formal clothing. Everyone in the buses, provided by the Yerevan municipal government, was excited.

Anyone who saw these Kurds would have thought that they were going not to proclaim a state, but rather to a wedding celebration. On 20 May 1992, this group of Kurdish intellectuals and a few Armenian observers, when they reached Karabagh, declared the “Lachin Kurdish Republic” on the historical terroritory of “Kurdistana Sor”. Speeches were made, and there were dances to the music of reed flutes and drums.

In the ceremony of proclaiming the state, Wekil Mustafa Lachin was declared the Prime Minister. Some members of his cabinet were also announced. For instance, Karlan e Chachani was declared Minister of Culture, Emerike Serdar Minister of Information, and Sheref e Eshir Deputy Prime Minister.

The group of Kurds that proclaimed the establishment of the Lachin Kurdish Republic erected a Kurdish flag that they had brought with them in this uninhabited territory, then returned to Yerevan. Some twenty-armed Kurdish youth who had come with them remained a few additional days, and then they returned home as well.


When I interviewed Red Kurdistan Prime Minister Wekil Mustafa on 29 May 1992 in Yerevan on behalf of “Ozgur Gundem” newspaper, he was getting ready to leave Armenia.

Wekil, then living by himself in a one-room house, had worked as a senior KGB officer in Central Asia during the days of the Soviet Union. He had been born into a family that had been exiled to Uzbekistan. His wife was serving as an officer in the Soviet military.

The Wekil family had always worked for Kurdistana Sor in the past few years, and had expended all their material wealth in this cause. In the end, they proclaimed the state. Yet less than two weeks after the proclamation, he was preparing to go and live in the Russian Federation.

Wekil Mustafa first explains why he fell out with his comrade Babayef: “Before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, YEKBUN was on the verge of attaining its goal. At that time, the Lachin Kurds hadn’t yet migrated to Azerbaijan, and the Armenians hadn’t yet occupied the Kurdish territories.

It was primarily Kurdish intellectuals who, out of their careerist concerns, most thwarted our efforts. And so even before the Soviet Union’s dissolution, our movement dissolved as well. Babayef went to Baku, because he had good relations with the Azeris. His daughter-in-law was an Azeri. He wasn’t keen on the proposals of the Armenians. But I’m determined to work for our cause to the end, regardless of whom I’m working with.”

During the Armenian-Azerbaijani clashes, some 1,500 Kurds had been killed in the Kelbejar and Spartakanas region. Some 6,000 Kurds living in the region had fled from the Armenian attacks to Azerbaijan, together with a large number of Azeris.

Red Kurdistan was left depopulated, empty of Kurds. In such a situation, why had they proclaimed a Kurdish state?

Wekil Mustafa explained: “The Armenians said they were going to give us arms. They said they would aid us materially. We were to work to bring in Kurds from nine separate republics of the former Soviet Union. None of it actually came about. We were only able to get two busloads of people together for the declaration of the state. And the Armenians provided no aid. The intellectuals who should have been leading the people in these territories simply sold themselves. They continually accused various people of all sorts of things, and hampered our work. Now I have no hope at all.

And so I’m simply closing the book on all this. It is definitely not the case that the Armenians used me. I’m a Muslim Kurd, and while everyone else was piling up money, I sold everything I had to come here.”

Five years later Emerike Serdar, while recalling those days in a television program we were making on Red Kurdistan, defended his own politicise and said that: “We all knew full well that the Armenians were never going to give us that land, and that we were never going to be able to convince the

Kurds to come and settle in the land depopulated because of the war. But we went to Lachin to leave a marker for history. We filmed it all, we took photographs. This struggle will not end. One day when this issue becomes topical again we will have documentation in our hands.”

And so in later years, it was Armenians rather than Kurds who settled on the territories proclaimed as the Lachin Kurdish Republic. And Wekil Mustafa, Prime Minister of the Lachin Kurdish Republic, after living for a time in the city of Krasnodar in the Russian Federation, went to Italy and applied for political asylum in 1999.

Source: Ozgur Politika, 30 November 2000, in Turkish

  • (Translated) - By Mehmet Aktas
  • 30/11/2000 00:00:00