Azerbaijan Must Be Held Responsible for Destruction of Religious and Cultural Heritage of Armenians -
Ottawa – The Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC) is marking the 8th anniversary of Azerbaijan’s destruction of the historic Armenian cemetery of Djulfa by calling on the Canadian government to hold Azerbaijan accountable for the systematic destruction of Armenian historical, cultural and religious sites and monuments.
On December 10, 2005, the government of Azerbaijan began the final demolition of the historic Armenian cemetery in Djulfa, an ancient Armenian city now located in Azerbaijan. This marked the final blow to the 10,000 intricately hand carved khachkars (stone crosses) which were erected between the 6th through the 17th centuries. Khachkars are a uniquely Armenian form of stone carving which UNESCO has recognized as being both culturally and religiously significant to the Armenian people and constituting part of humanity’s shared intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding.
By December 15, 2005, the final destruction was complete. Approximately 200 Azerbaijani soldiers amassed at the Nakhichevan-Iran border to desecrate the remaining grave markers at the Djulfa Armenian cemetery. The cemetery has since been replaced with an Azerbaijani military training base.
In 2007, at the 16th International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) General Assembly in Quebec City a resolution regretfully stated with regard to this Azerbaijani vandalism: “this heritage that once enjoyed its worthy place among the treasures of the world’s heritage can no longer be transmitted today to future generations,”
On December 5, 2010, the American Association for the Advancement of Science published a case study titled "High-Resolution Satellite Imagery and the Destruction of Cultural Artifacts in Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan". This report further documents the destruction through clear satellite imagery.
Despite clear evidence of this crime against humanity’s shared heritage, Azerbaijan continues to deny this crime and in fact continues to destroy Armenian religious and cultural monuments on its territory.
Dr. Girair Basmajian, President of ANCC stated “Azerbaijan is engaged in a systematic effort to erase all traces of Armenian culture and history from its territories. The destruction of the historic Djulfa cemetery which took place 8 years ago this week is just one example of Azerbaijan’s campaign against Armenian religious and cultural sites.” Dr. Basmajian called upon the Canadian government to use all means available to pressure the Azerbaijani government to end this campaign. Dr. Basmajian said “This is an issue that affects all of humanity because our shared cultural heritage is threatened. Canada must act to ensure that Azerbaijan does not destroy any more Armenian monuments and be brought to account for the destruction of the Djulfa cemetery and countless Armenian churches and historic sites.”
Armenian National Committee of Canada