Azeri troops captured during the destruction of a medieval Armenian cemetery containing 10 thousand beautiful Armenian cross-stones

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The video stuff on the issue available HERE.


Khachkar destruction in Nakhichevan refers to the systematic campaign beginning in 1998 and ending in December 2005 of the government of azerbaijan to completely demolish the

cemetery of medieval Armenian khachkars (cross stones) near the town of Julfa (known as Jugha in Armenian), Nakhichevan, an exclave of azerbaijan. Claims by Armenians that

azerbaijan was undertaking a systematic campaign to destroy and remove the monuments first arose in late 1998 and those charges were renewed in 2002 and 2005. Numerous

appeals were filed by both Armenian and international organizations, condemning the azerbaijani government and calling on it to desist from such activity. In 2006, azerbaijan barred

European Parliament members from investigating the claims, charging them with a "biased and hysterical approach" to the issue and stating that it would only accept a delegation if it

visited Armenian-controlled territory as well. In the spring of 2006, a journalist from the Institute for War and Peace Reporting who visited the area reported that no visible traces of the

cemetery remained. In the same year, photographs taken from Iran showed that the cemetery site has been turned into a military firing range. After studying and comparing satellite

photos of Julfa taken in 2003 and 2009, in December 2010 the American Association for the Advancement of Science came to the conclusion that the cemetery has been demolished

and leveled.

About Nakhichevan region

Nakhichevan is an exclave which belongs to azerbaijan. Armenia's territory separates it from the rest of azerbaijan. The exclave also borders turkey and Iran. Lying near the Araks River

as a part of the historical province of Syunik' in heart of the Armenian plateau, Jugha gradually grew from a village to a city during the late medieval period. In the sixteenth century, it

boasted a population of 20-40,000 Armenians who were largely occupied with trade and craftsmanship. The oldest khachkars found at the cemetery at Jugha, located in the western

part of the city, dated to the ninth to tenth centuries but their construction, as well as that of other elaborately decorated grave markers, continued until 1605, the year when Shah Abbas I

of Safavid Persia instituted a policy of scorched earth and ordered the town destroyed and all its inhabitants removed. In addition to the thousands of khachkars, Armenians also

erected numerous tombstones in the form of rams which were intricately decorated with Christian motifs and engravings. According to the French traveler Alexandre de Rhodes, the

cemetery still had 10,000 well-preserved khachkars when he visited Jugha in 1648. However, many khachkars were destroyed from this period onward to the point that only 5,000 were

counted standing in 1903–1904.

Azeri Vandalism

Armenia first brought up charges against the azerbaijani government for destroying khachkars in 1998 in the town of Julfa. Several years earlier, Armenia had supported the Armenians

of Karabakh to fight for their independence in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in azerbaijan, in the Nagorno-Karabakh War. The war concluded in 1994 when a cease fire was signed

between Armenia and azerbaijan. The Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh established the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, an internationally unrecognized but de facto independent state.

This resulted in azerbaijan losing fourteen percent of its territory, including lands falling outside of Nagorno-Karabakh. Since the end of the war, enmity against Armenians in azerbaijan

has built up. According to Sarah Pickman of the Archaeological Institute of America, the loss of Nagorno-Karabakh to the Armenians has "played a part in this attempt to eradicate the

historical Armenian presence in Nakhichevan." In 1998, azerbaijan dismissed Armenia's claims that the khachkars were being destroyed. Arpiayr Petrosyan, a member of the

organization Armenian Architecture in Iran, had initially pressed the claims after having witnessed and filmed bulldozers destroying the monuments. Reacting to the claims, the

government of Iran expressed concern over the destruction of the monuments and filed a protest with the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic's government (NAR). Hasan Zeynalov, the

permanent representative of the NAR in Baku, stated that the Armenian allegation was "another dirty lie of the Armenians." The government of azerbaijan did not respond directly to the

accusations but did state that "vandalism is not in the spirit of azerbaijan." Armenia's claims provoked international scrutiny that, according to Armenian Minister of Culture Gagik

Gyurdjian, helped to temporarily stop the destruction. Armenian archaeologists and experts on the khachkars in Nakhichevan stated that when they first visited the region in 1987, prior

to the breakup of the Soviet Union, the monuments had stood intact and the region itself had as many as "27,000 monasteries, churches, khachkars, tombstones" among other cultural

artifacts. By 1998, the number of khachkars was reduced to 2,700. In 2003, Armenians renewed their protests claiming that azerbaijan had restarted the destruction of the monuments.

On December 4, 2002, Armenian historians and archaeologists met and filed a formal complaint and appealed to international organizations to investigate their claims. The old

Cemetery of Julfa is known to specialists to have housed as many as 10,000 of these carved khachkar headstones, up to 2,000 of which were still intact after an earlier outbreak of

vandalism on the same site in 2002. Eyewitness accounts of the ongoing demolition describe an organized operation. In December 2005, Iranian Armenians documented more video

evidence across the Araks river, which partially demarcates the border between Nakhichevan and Iran, stating that it showed Azeri troops had finished the destruction of the remaining

khachkars by using sledgehammers and axes.

International response

azerbaijan's government has faced a flurry of condemnation since the charges were first revealed. When the claims were first brought up in 1998, the United Nations Educational,

Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) ordered that the destruction of the monuments in Julfa cease. The complaints also brought forward similar appeals to end the activity by

the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS).

  • azerbaijan

In reaction to the charges brought forward by Armenia and international organizations, azerbaijan has asserted, falsely, that Armenians had never existed in those territories. In

December 2005, Zeynalov stated in a BBC interview that Armenians "never lived in Nakhichevan, which has been azerbaijani land from time immemorial, and that's why there are no

Armenian cemeteries and monuments and have never been any." azerbaijan instead contends that the monuments were not of Armenian, but of Caucasian Albanian, origin. In regard

to the destruction, according to the azerbaijani Ambassador to the United States, Hafiz Pashayev, the videos and photographs that were introduced did not show the identity of the

people nor display what they are actually destroying. Instead, the ambassador asserts that the Armenian side started a propaganda campaign against azerbaijan to draw attention

away from the alleged destruction of azerbaijani monuments in Armenia. azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev also denied the charges, calling them "a lie and a provocation."

  • European Union

In 2006, European parliamentary members protested to the azerbaijani government when they were barred from inspecting the cemetery. Hannes Swoboda, an Austrian socialist MEP

and committee member who was denied access to the region, commented that "If they do not allow us to go, we have a clear hint that something bad has happened. If something is

hidden we want to ask why. It can only be because some of the allegations are true." Doctor Charles Tannock, a conservative member of the European Parliament for Greater London,

and others echoed those sentiments and compared the destruction to the Buddha statues destroyed by the Taliban in Bamyan, Afghanistan in 2001. He cited in a speech a British

architect, Steven Sim, an expert of the region, who attested that the video footage shot from the Iranian border was genuine. azerbaijan barred the European Parliament because it

said it would only accept a delegation if it visited Armenian-controlled territory as well. "We think that if a comprehensive approach is taken to the problems that have been raised," said

azerbaijani foreign ministry spokesman Tahir Tagizade, "it will be possible to study Christian monuments on the territory of azerbaijan, including in the Nakhichevan Autonomous

Republic." After several more postponed visits, a renewed attempt was planned by PACE inspectors for August 29 - September 6, 2007, led by British MP Edward O'Hara. As well as

Nakhichevan, the delegation would visit Baku, Yerevan, Tbilisi, and Nagorno Karabakh. The inspectors planned to visit Nagorno-Karabakh via Armenia, and had arranged transport to

facilitate this. However, on August 28, the head of the azerbaijani delegation to PACE released a demand that the inspectors must enter Nagorno Karabakh via azerbaijan. On August

29, PACE Secretary General Mateo Sorinas announced that the visit had to be canceled because of the difficulty in accessing Nagorno-Karabagh using the route required by

azerbaijan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Armenia issued a statement saying that azerbaijan had stopped the visit "due solely to their intent to veil the demolition of Armenian

monuments in Nakhijevan."

  • United States

In April 2011, the newly-appointed United States ambassador to azerbaijan Matthew Bryza visited Nakhichevan but was inexplicably refused access to Julfa by azerbaijani authorities.

Bryza had intended to investigate the cemetery but instead was told by government authorities that they would help facilitate a new trip in the coming months. In a statement released by

the US embassy in Baku, Bryza stated that "As I said at the time the cemetery destruction was reported, the desecration of cultural sites – especially a cemetery – is a tragedy, which

we deplore, regardless of where it happens." In response to the statement, Aram Hamparian, the executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), called the

ambassador's comments "Far too little, five years too late" and criticized him for not speaking out more forcefully and earlier against the destruction while he was still United States

Deputy Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs in 2006.

  • Other

Numerous non-Armenian scholars condemned the destruction and urged the azerbaijan government to give a more complete account of its activities in the region. Adam T. Smith, an

anthropologist and associate professor of anthropology at the University of Chicago, called the removal of the khachkars "a shameful episode in humanity's relation to its past, a

deplorable act on the part of the government of azerbaijan which requires both explanation and repair." Smith and other scholars, as well as several United States Senators, signed a

letter to UNESCO and other organizations condemning azerbaijan's government

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Comments (1)

JeO112 on September 27, 2013

Let us all respect and admire each
others art, cultures, and traditions.
There is alot more to admire in the
world than hatred and destruction.
Besides my love of travel and art,
I believe sacred places must and
should be respected regardless of
who may come into control. Governments
of the world need to stop erasing the
past for political and cultural
control. All need to respect each other.
This happens much to often around the
world. , ☆☆☆Like☆☆☆, Cordial
greetings from "La isla del encanto"
Puerto Rico....JeO112.

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