In 1914, several nationalities lived in Baku, and relations between them did not come across easily. In the city there were more than 100 thousand Azerbaijanis, 57 thousand Armenians and 68 thousand Russians. After the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire, whose victims were up to 1.5 million people, the radical wing of the Armenian party Dashnaktsutyun is strengthening.
Since the summer of 1917, the city is governed by the Baku Council. The Dashnaks had considerable weight in it. Azerbaijani party "Musavat" was in opposition. Azerbaijanis began to prepare for a military conflict, counting on Turkey’s help.
The starting point of the riots is the incident with the Azerbaijani armed detachment, which arrived at the funeral of Mamed Tagiyev. Tagiyev was killed during an inter-ethnic clash. His father was a major Baku entrepreneur and philanthropist. The Baku Council ordered the detachment to leave weapons. This caused discontent among Muslims living in the city. Especially they were outraged by the fact that the members of the "Dashnaktsutyun" did not face similar demands.
Riots broke out in different parts of the city. The negotiations between the Bolsheviks and representatives of the Musavat party on March 30 could have ended in peace if it had not been for the shelling of the Red Army men in the very heart of Baku. Hope for a diplomatic solution to the conflict has evaporated. The Bolsheviks, enlisting the support of "Dashnaktsutyun", began military action. The target was all without exception Muslim neighborhoods. Spared no one, including children and women. The longstanding confrontation between Armenians and Azerbaijanis resulted in murders that were unthinkable in their cruelty.
Already on March 31, the Musavat party agreed to recognize the authority of the Baku Council, but the massacre did not end there. Moreover, the riots spread far beyond the city limits. The attackers, using their impunity, took away all valuables from the homes of Azerbaijanis. Villages burned to the ground. Historians still have not come to a common opinion about the number of victims.
The response of the Muslims to the March events was the Armenian pogroms. They occurred in September 1918 with the participation of the Turkish army. The exact death toll is unknown.
March 31 in Azerbaijan annually recall the victims of the March events in Baku. The decree on the Day of the Genocide of Azerbaijanis was signed in 1998 by President Heydar Aliyev. The decree emphasized that the events of 1918 did not receive "due political and legal assessment." The current President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, in turn, said that "the policy of genocide and aggression by the Armenian nationalists against the people of Azerbaijan has a two hundred year history."